Personally, I’ve always considered myself a “creative” person. Writing, art, and music are three of my passions and putting together something artistic, whether it’s with words or pictures, has always come easy for me. There are people, however, that find it hard to fathom the written word or really find a place in the arts. From the self-professed “logical” people to the “analytical” crowd, creativity is a mystical process for them, something they think they couldn’t possibly possess. However, there are actually four steps that people sometimes don’t notice, but are actually the building blocks of creativity. What are these steps that we unconsciously go through to create art, music, inspiration, and things of artistic or written value?
The four steps that “create” creativity are: preparation, incubation, illumination, and implementation.
In the preparation stage, it’s kind of like a “brainstorming” exercise: if you’re a writer, for example, this means looking at old pieces of work and trying to decide where to go from there. In “preparation,” this might feel like work, but you’re actually just trying to see what you can come up with. People usually have to do this anyway or else nothing gets done - the brainstorming might be slight, but it IS preparation for the next stage, which is incubation.
In step two, incubation, necessary connections are made in order to “lay” the idea – like when an egg is getting “incubated” and getting the heat it needs to turn into a full-blown chick. In this stage, you have the idea, but you’re just giving it some steam and energy in order for it to fully materialize.
Step three is illumination, which is in short, the “lightbulb” moment. This is the time when the puzzle of an idea has come together and there’s no stopping its influence from coming out in creativity. These moments sometimes happen at the most inopportune times, like when you’re nowhere near a canvas, a computer, or a piece of paper. For example, this is the moment for a writer when an idea just hits them and they need to grab a piece of paper in order to remember it. Illumination means seeing the light and the creative juice is flowing its best when this “eureka!” happens.
The last step of the creative process is implementation, which means that the idea has gone down on paper – in short, this is the “final product” stage of the creativity process. For example, this is when a writer records their idea for a story and actually gets to decide if it’s worth following through with.
It takes a lot of work to get to the “implementation” stage because the pieces have to fall together and if they fall together wrong, you have to start over. You may follow many different roads, but in the end, there’s one idea that sticks out all four stages and ends up being your “project.” For example, writing these blogs follows that process: I “prepare” by researching and thinking, which leads to “incubating” on one subject and eventually to an “illumination” and “implementation” of that idea into an entry for online publication.
By thinking of the creative process in chunks, it’s easy to distinguish between what stage you’re on and how to “create” ideas in real life. It’s not difficult to harness creativity if you use your brain and slowly think out what you want to do – each stage can be done over and over again, but eventually an idea will come to fruition and possibly surprise you if that’s not your usual way of processing information. Therefore, creating “art” or using creative processes to fuel new ideas is more of a calculated way of thinking, whether conscious or not. By using these steps, anyone can create something for themselves – so get out there and get your independent selves into gear! For more on this topic, check out this article.