Being creative, be it painting, writing, composing, sculpting, problem solving, etc., is something that is essential to our souls. We have to do it and for lots of reasons. As much as creating is a driving force in our lives, it is never a smooth ride. We all run into times when we feel stuck or it feels like quick sand or we bemoan, “This is hard!” Yes, it is and you are in good company. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Have you ever stopped to think about the common places when creatives get stuck or question their ability to continue? Or considered the general phases of the creative process? In this blog (Part 1), I will be discussing the latter question first.
The creative process has been studied by various scholarly fields for centuries. Because it is a mysterious process, creativity has always enamored us. Many attempts have been made to articulate it so that it can be better understood.
When I researched literature about the creative process several years ago, I learned that the sequential stages were first defined into only four phases.
In Graham Wallas’ 1926 classic The Art of Thought, he summarized the creative process as follows:
- Preparation: The mind prepares for the creative solution, which requires study and thinking intently on the subject—whether it be a musical composition, a new invention, a mathematical formula, or a business dilemma.
- Incubation: A germination period follows. The person steps away from the problem and takes up some form of activity like daydreaming, walking, or meditating.
- Illumination: Often as a flash, a brilliant idea shoots across the mind, frequently during a mundane task or while one is involved with something else.
- Verification: The idea is tested to determine its validity. The composition is scored; the mathematical formula, proven.
Variations of the above creative process have been developed over the last century with a few additional tweaks and language changes. Boldly, I added a stage that I thought was missing!