How does one "create" something?
If that title sounds nebulous, that's because I don't really know how to pose this question.
I've been subbed to CGCookie for about half a year now, and I've really enjoyed what I've learned so far. There is something very comforting about being in a community of professionals that actually excell at their subject matter. It's a far cry from the days of getting by on low quality youtube tutorials or hackneyed guides.
However, despite learning a great deal here at CGCookie, time and time again I have this gnawing feeling that I have a giant blindspot in my skillset that needs addressing.
In the past, I was very much a reverse engineer. I would cobble together knowledge from youtube videos, examples, and imitation. I've spent a great deal of my life figuring out how to do things via dissection and practice, instead of professional instruction.
I've went on to create many things, some of which are posted online(outside CGCookie). Games, art, models, animations, videos, etc. I'm a jack of all trades, in that regard.
The method I learned to "create" art or games was always a mixture of old habits and brute force. I would use references heavily and frankensteined my pieces together until it matched my mental picture of what I wanted. I would iterate, over and over, until I finally refined my piece down to something I considered reasonably perfect. I would use rigid logic, falling back to the same patterns of planning and development that I've always followed.
However, the method I developed was extremely toxic, and generated a large amount of anxiety and mental anguish. Many of my old projects were exhausting, and required three times the reasonable amount of time to finish. It wasn't until I talked with other artists that I began to realize that this was not normal. I ended up developing a chronic illness from it, which now plagues me to this day.
I still feel, though, that it's not a matter of a lack of creativity, it's a lack of control over it. I can't structure my creativity properly enough to execute upon it.
My imagination runs rampant with ideas and concepts, and I can quickly map them in my head. However, when it comes time to put them to stone; to create a plan or concept on paper, something halts me. It's as if there is a collosal void between structuring the idea in my head, and starting work on the first piece of the project. I'm missing a crucial step. I do not know of a healthy way to materialize my ideas.
Once again, CGCookie has done a lot to bust down these false creative walls I've built by exposing me to the fundamental ideas behind the creative process, thus helping me reverse my toxic habits. However, now I'm feeling a bit lost.
This feels like a long rambling post, but it's partly from necessity. I can't adequately pose the question because I don't know what the question really is. Unlike most things, I can't search for a tutorial or guide to answer this question because I don't know how to effectively ask the question to begin with. It looms over me like a cloud, but I can't point to it and identify the issue outright.
Basically, I know what creating art looks like, but I don't know "how" to do it. In a much harsher interpretation, I'm non-literally "tracing" the creative methods of real artists. I walk like an artist, and quack like an artist, but I'm merely an imitation. I'd like to be one, because creativity fuels me, but my current process is terminally flawed.
Sorry if this is extremely long-winded, but I felt it had to be. I'm posting this here because I greatly value the knowledge and expertise of this community. This chronic problem had haunted me for most of my life, and is far too great for me to solve.
Is there any advice people can give on how to proceed? Is there some CGCookie flow I should look at? Is there some obvious process I've missed? It doesn't even have to be a direct answer, I'm just looking for informed perspectives on the issue. Thanks for reading.