The creative process doesn’t have to be difficult because it’s a simple mix of influence, imitation, and adding your own interpretation to it. It may feel like it comes easier to others but I believe everyone can train themselves to be more creative or at least tap into the process of it.

While the creative process may be different for person to person they do have the same basic 5 steps, but keep in mind that the creative process is not predictable or linear.

Preparation

The preparation stage is where you gather as much information as possible. You begin becoming immersed with the material. Research is done in this step. Look at the audience, research the brand, gather information and inspiration from other sources. 

For example, if you are a writer, this step is the researching facts and reading other works in the same area. If you’re an entrepreneur you’re researching your audience needs and the demand. If you an artists, you will look into compositions of negative space.

Incubation

This is the step that will take time. It’s where the magic happens. After you absorb the information from step one, you begin to examine concepts, look at them in different ways and experiment on how the fit together. This step is when ideas are marinating in your mind. It can be consciously while you are brainstorming or subconsciously. You may have to step away from the problem to do something else that energized and excites you before you come back to it. 

For example, when I do wood-burnings, I either start with the wood piece in mind or have a picture in my head looking for the right piece of wood to work with. Or when I am writing a book, I simply just write down notes I have but I am exploring how I want to lay out the information.

Illumination

This is the “Aha!” moment, the lightbulb moment, the “Eureka!” moment when the perfect idea hits you. It’s the breakthrough moment. It’s often unexpected. It happens many times when you are doing a completely unrelated activity. When this moment hits, grab your notebook or sketchbook and jot it down before it gets lost in your brain.

Keeping with the wood-burning example, this could be that I have a piece of wood and all I need to do is cut it to size. With the book writing example, I definitely get my notebook to write down the breakthrough.

Evaluation

This is the reasoning stage. It’s the hard part where you look at all your ideas and narrow them down to the ones that will work and the ones that won’t. For each idea or solution ask:

  • Is it worth pursuing?
  • Is it new enough or has it been many times before?
  • Are there changes I could make?
  • What do my colleagues, superiors, client think of the idea?

Implementation.

This is the stage where the work gets done. It’s where the idea is turned into the final product. It’s where things like your skill, knowledge, experiences and the work all come together to create the solution. The final draft. The artist’s finished piece.

Creativity doesn’t have a definitive process, yet it does have general steps in each stage of the process. This 5 step process can help you in your work and daily life to help you solve problems, come up with new products and be more creative in your life.

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