5 Stages of Using Cannabis for Creativity

// June 13, 2017
Painting on Cannabis

One of the most intriguing effects of cannabis is its creativity-enhancing ability . Painters, musicians, dancers, writers, and creatives–everyone–can benefit from the insight-probing, perspective-lending, and euphoria-inducing capabilities of cannabis.

Before you get started, set the intention of using your dose for creative purposes. Even if it’s just a simple whisper out to the world: “hey weed smoke…as you enter me, please fill me with creative energy”. Set a short intention before/during your toke so as to get the vibe and mindset right before starting.

Whether you’re a seasoned (and potentially blocked) creative or someone who rarely has time to be creative at all, cannabis can be great for providing the relaxation, head space, and new angle you need to get your creative juices flowing.

There’s a theory coined by a group of scientists, including Jaques Hadamard and Henri Poincare, which says that creativity can be broken into 5 stages. These stages aren’t necessarily in order (is there such thing as an order to creativity?), but they’re all components that feed the creative process on an intellectual level. Essentially, the theory explains that creativity is the formation of seemingly random thoughts combined to create an ideal amalgamation of ideas. It’s interesting to analyze how cannabis can be incorporated at each level of these creative stages.

Stage  1: Preparation

This is the stage where you are faced with a “problem” that needs “solving”. Examples of a problem would be a school assignment with a short deadline, the decision to write the next chapter of a book, or a creative block/challenge that won’t seem to dissipate. Once the problem is presented the creative begins researching, creating deadlines, setting goals, brainstorming thoughts, and preparing to commence on the project at hand. This is the preparation stage, where you’re meant to get super inspired. A fashion designer will look at their favourite lookbooks, a musician will listen to inspiring albums, and a business owner will do market research. This is the stage of absorption. Cannabis can be of great value at this stage as it can help you dial in and focus on learning, all while keeping you open minded and adaptable to new ideas as they come. Try a light dose: maybe only a few hits or a micro-edible so that you’re not too high during this stage. You want to be fully present as you overload yourself with knowledge and inspiration.

Stage 2: Incubation

In this stage, your knowledge and ideas start trickling down to your subconscious mind. Your imagination begins working on a less conscious level, storing information for later use. At this point, you’re not actively looking for solutions to the problem, but solutions are subconsciously forming without effort. This stage is passive, and you really have no say as to how long this can take. A song lyric you thought of on your morning walk 4 months ago may come back to at the perfect time, while you’re recording at the studio. Again, you have no say as to when these stored ideas will resurface. Cannabis has a genius ability to re-spark memories, create nostalgia, and bring you to a more relaxed state. It’s not to say that it will directly help you tap into your subconscious mind, but it can definitely put you in a place of receptivity and contemplation, which can stimulate your thought process, and in turn, may naturally help you to gravitate towards thoughts and ideas buried deep in the subconscious. Try a sativa if you’re seeking a “head high” to get you thinking!

Stage 3: Illumination

This is the stage of insight, where you have an epiphany or an “AHA” moment. It usually takes place while you’re doing something completely unrelated, like a brushing your teeth or going for a bike ride. It’s the stage where you’re meant to lay back and relax, and just allow ideas to flow without your participation. If you’ve been cramming at a computer for hours, working on the same hook for your song for days, or simply feel like no good ideas are coming to you- TAKE A BREAK! Go for a stoned hike, try a new meal at a cool restaurant, have a beach day, or hang out with friends. Distracting yourself is your best thing to do at this stage, as these eureka moments only come when you stop seeking them. Cannabis can get you out of your mind and into whatever activity you’re doing. Smoke a nice joint and go out and do something irrelevant and fun!

Stage 4: Evaluation

This is one of the trickiest stages of the creative process: determining whether or not your epiphany is worth pursuing. It’s the point in creation where you need to make a decision on whether or not you want to commit to bringing it to life, or leave it as a thought left to die. This stage is especially hard if you’re on a creative high and are experiencing many “AHA” moments. You have to sift through your ideas and evaluate which ones would be of benefit to see through. My advice? Hang out with some trusted friends, pass around a joint, and seek outside opinion. If the idea is still too infant to talk about with friends, just try changing scene and smoking a joint, as the switch in perspective may be enough to help you come to a quicker decision about which idea to use!

Stage 5: Elaboration/Implementation

This is the stage where you finally get to work; it’s the first stroke on your canvas, the story outline for your book, and the product development for your business. It’s the late nights at the studio, the experimentation in the lab, and the early mornings assessing and reconstructing. This is the stage that differentiates a creative person from a creative contributor. So many people have idle creative minds, they get stuck in the evaluation process, or the researching stage and they simply forget to actually do the creative work. Be warned: you may face resistance at this stage; you may over contemplate your ideas or decide that maybe you aren’t good enough, or that you bit off more than you could chew. KEEP GOING! You will only progress if you stay in motion. Using cannabis at this stage is lots of fun, it can keep you in a state of euphoria, and help you connect deeper with your art. It also has the ability to help you change perspective (ex; write sober, edit high), which is great if you’re feeling stuck.

All in all, cannabis can be of assistance at every level of the creative process. It can help us set an intention, calm our busy minds, access subconscious thoughts, and help us gain insight. It has this ability to spark euphoria and engage a reflective mind-set, both of which are of great aid in creative pursuits. With these steps in the back of your mind, I encourage you to try using cannabis as you aim to create! Who knows what the crazy beautiful outcome could be?