When I think about creativity, I think about spirals. A spiral is a key metaphor that guides my process. It represents a way I learn about myself and my craft each time I create.
Leonardo Pisano Bigollo was a prominent Mathematician in the Middle Ages who was born in Italy and educated in North Africa. He was known by his nickname, Fibonacci, a name made famous for a sequence of numbers that demonstrates spiral patterns in nature, including those in shells, pineapples, pine cones, and sunflowers.
The head of a sunflower has many spirals moving to the right and to the left, clockwise and counterclockwise, with seeds growing in logarithmic shapes that get wider as they move away from the centre. If you count the spirals in each direction of a sunflower you will find they often add up to numbers in the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…).
The Fibonacci pattern is simple, each number is the combination of the two numbers before: 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, and so on. Each new seed appears in relationship to the one prior. A sunflower could have thirty-four spirals clockwise and twenty-one spirals counterclockwise; or maybe fifty-five spirals clockwise and eighty-nine spirals counterclockwise. The number of spirals changes as the sunflower grows.
As we create, we grow. As we grow, we change. Fibonacci's spiral can be found in many places in art and nature. It can inspire our creative process and products too.
Every time I write I learn something new about the process and myself. Like the seeds of a sunflower, I move in growing spirals.
Consider your process. Reflect on your life journey and the ways creativity moves through milestones as well as simple moments. If you were to map out where you started to where you are, what would it look like?
I find it helpful to use metaphor as a reflection tool. It helps me to practice seeing in different ways and to make new connections.
In this video I introduce the idea of spirals through the lens of a writer.
This series has a number of spirals to explore:
Ambition & Audience
Perseverance & Diligence
Curiosity & Adventure
Love & Energy
They are designed to guide us through a journey of self-reflection on the big lessons weaving through our creative lives.
The articles in the Creativity Spiral Series are inspired from my book The Writing Spiral.