The Creative Process

by | Jan 10, 2020 | Creativity | 0 comments

Steps of the creative process

If you’re following my  social media series, you’ll see that January’s focus is on cultivating creativity. We’ve talked about how all people have the potential for creativity if they use it. So how does creative thinking come about? The Wallas Model gives us 4 steps: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. 

Graham Wallas’ (1926) model has served as a starting point for many creativity theorists over the years.

Preparation is the exploration part of the process. We brainstorm ideas, investigate situations, and gather as much information as we can. Our interest is piqued at this point from questions raised about a situation.

Incubation is an important step of the process. It’s a time to step away and digest the information we have gathered during the preparation process. I have a friend who has been studying for an important certification exam. She spent hours pouring over information until her head felt like it was going to explode. She worried about taking breaks, but then realized that the break was essential to being successful. The same theory applies to problem solving or creative endeavors. If you find yourself stuck on a problem or hit with a creative block, take a break and come back to it. Your unconscious brain will still be working on it while you reduce your cognitive load a bit.

Illumination is the A-HA moment that often comes after you take that much needed break. 

Verification involves experimenting with our idea to see what works and what needs to be tweaked. 

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Another step–recursion

Runco (2014) expanded on the 4 step process to add recursion, which is the process of revisiting earlier stages in order to make any needed adjustments. For example, maybe you’ve brainstormed an essay, let it incubate, had a lightbulb moment, and wrote a first draft. Upon reading the draft, you start to cultivate more ideas, and the process begins again, creating a vibrant piece. 

Seeing creativity as a process can help you feel comfortable taking risks and trying new ideas.

There are a lot of theories on creativity out there, but this step model is a succinct way to describe what is happening in the creative process. Now’s your time to start with step one–preparation. Brainstorm and have fun!

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