When you look at examples of creative work, you might be amazed at how simple they are in their beauty and their effectiveness. You might wonder how the designer came up with the idea and how can you use that creative process in your work and life.
Creativity is not magic. It’s a mixture of influence, imitation, and your own interpretation. It can be more predominant in some people, but everyone can train themselves to be more creative. It’s not just restricted to those in art or music, or even inventors. Anyone can be creative. It comes down to training yourself in the creative process.
The creative process is different for everyone, yet has the same basic 5 steps. Each step will be different depending on the person, job, industry, creative medium, or other factors. It might take days, weeks, or even months to get an outcome. 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, and gather information and inspiration from other sources.
For example, if you are a writer, this step is researching facts and reading other works in the same area. If you’re an entrepreneur, it means you’re researching your audience’s needs and the demand.
- 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 they 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.
- 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.
- 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, and 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 work all come together to create the solution. The final draft. The artist’s finished piece. The businessperson’s product.
Creativity doesn’t have a definitive process, yet it does have general steps in each stage of the process. Use the 5 step process in your work and daily life to help you solve problems, come up with new products, and be more creative in your life.