Journey of Creativity

First, one searches for the quest, looking for the brightest idea amongst the jumble of thoughts passing through a mind every day. After that come the incubation and evaluation processes, finding how best to go about your idea and how to find the easiest, highly cost-efficient, and most importantly, different and unique way to reach the end.

Choosing your creative highway

It is obvious that for everyone, steps in the journey to creativity might not be the same. Some people think they would much rather shoot in the dark than contemplate a process; but for others, the systematic procedure is what brings out the best ideas and the most creative thoughts.

Choose yor creative path to follow

The creative process is often mistaken for being something set in stone for a particular individual. It is wrongly believed that a person who once had an absolutely brilliant idea while sitting down to his morning coffee and toast, will always have to be a slave to the ‘moment’; i.e., he will only get an idea when he is least looking for it, least expecting it. On the other hand, people who schedule brain-storming meetings, who read up on the area they wish to have ideas in, often find themselves apprehensive of schemes that pop into their heads without help.

English, social psychologist Graham Wallas, in 1926, at the age of 68, came up with a total of five stages that he thought every person went through, whether consciously or unconsciously, during the creative process. He described his own observations and the finding of famous inventors and intellectuals as the foundation behind these stages.

The creative process is a winding, twisting road that leads to a far off—or near, depending on the person—destination that you can sometimes see and sometimes can’t. It is very difficult to describe in hard and fast terms.

According to Wallas and other students of creativity, the five steps involved in the process are as follows:

First step - Preparation

Preparation—collect and mix the ingredients

This is the foundation over which creative ideas are built. Preparation is when a person hunkers down and starts to gather data about what they wish to find a solution for. This step starts the moment a problem has been identified, and the need for a solution felt.

This might include, but is not limited to, reading up the facts of the problem, familiarizing yourself with work done in the field by your predecessors and peers, and studying the current trends in the area.

A journalist writing an editorial about a town would go through the preparation process by reading other pieces about the place already published, talking to the residents of the town, holding discussions with other journalists and editors in the area, and in general learning everything, there is to know.

Second step - Incubation

Incubation—let them sit

The incubation period is just that, a time to mull things over. Like the babies in a hospital’s NICU, this is the stage where you give your information extra time to grow and develop while still in the safety of your head.

The incubation stage starts right after, or even during, the preparation stage. Filled to the brim with all the information gathered, a person might seize a moment to themselves, perhaps taking a walk outside the office or by eating a quiet lunch in a familiar roadside café.

The incubation period is not time sensitive. It might take days, sometimes weeks, to come up with the perfect idea.

For our journalist, this is the time to put her pad down and to get out under the sun. She takes a walk down the busy streets, munching a bagel and trying not to think. She goes home and does half the dishes and leaves the rest. She feeds her cat. And during all this, subconsciously, she is still mulling over her piece. She writes down the ideas as to what direction to adopt, what issues to raise and what eventual conclusions to draw.

Third step - Illumination

Illumination—light the fire and let the soap bubble

This is the moment an idea sparks. Illumination is the most important part of any creative process in that it is the best reflection of all your hard work till this point. You have collected the information, you have thought about it, mulled over it and sweated about it, and in the end, this is where you get an actionable idea.

Illumination can happen anytime, anywhere. You might be walking your dog in the morning, thinking of everything but work, and suddenly you hear something a passer-by is saying on his phone, and an idea hits you. It is unpredictable and sudden, the crux of all the information you have gathered so far. There are several ways to increas your creative thinking.

Our journalist has been hit with an idea while watering her plants. She sees a young man, perhaps 21 or 22, walking down the street in smart clothes, with a white lab coat over his arm, and remembers how the town she is researching has a low population of men and women under 35. Suddenly, she knows she wants to write about the younger generation moving to the cities.

Fourth step - Evaluation

Evaluation—taste the seasoning

Think about the idea you have decided to employ. Talk to your friends and co-workers. Research the reception others got when they followed a plan similar to yours. This is the time when you evaluate the direction you wish to take and the impact it would have at the end of the line. The evaluation process is important because it brings to light the mistakes and errors in your judgment. When you think about your idea, or better yet, let others run through it, you can focus on the improvements that need to be made. There are many methods and techniques for idea evaluation.

The journalist will now write up a rough draft of the article about the town’s younger generation and the reasons behind them leaving the town and moving to cities. She reads it to herself, shows it to a co-worker and runs it by her editor. She finds that she hasn’t considered the impacts this brain drain has on the town’s economy or the emotional effects on the older people left behind. She rewrites the article.

Fifth step - Implementation

Implementation—serve in flower embossed porcelain platter

Implementation is the end of the line. This is where the final touches are made to the project, where the little kinks are ironed out. And it's time for the hard work to pay off.

The journalist thinks she has added everything that could be added. She has considered all the effects of the problem, has provided a few ideas for a practical solution, and even gotten statements from the town’ Mayor and Youth Affairs minister about what they are doing to provide more jobs. She submits the article.