Simply put, the creative process is the way ideas, art, or creative thinking come about. Contrary to popular belief, in one way or another everyone goes through a similar process in which they begin with gathering inspiration and eventually produce the final product; although it may look different for everyone. SkillShare Blog does an amazing job at laying out the creative process in easy-to-understand and relatable steps. They believe that familiarizing yourself with stages of the creative process allows you to more easily unlock your best ideas. It gives you the creative elbow space to figure out what satisfies your spirit and what turns you off, and it provides you full permission to dive into the deepest corners of your imagination. It encourages you to scrap ideas that don’t work without damaging your ego and, most importantly, to bring you closer to yourself and create something you’re proud of.
Here is an overview of the steps discussed by SkillShare Blog :
The creative process has traditionally been broken down into the following five stages of creativity: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration (although creatives’ definition of each step, and occasionally the names, can vary).
- Preparation: The Inspiration Phase – the first stage of the creative process is where your best ideas are born. This can be scrolling through social media, deep-diving into autobiographies of artists who inspire you, perusing artist websites and their virtual galleries, watching documentary films on the topic, listening to music, or reading through poetry, people watching, exploring nature, etc. Wherever this stage takes you, commit to it wholly and truly relish in it. Take notes. Observe what (and how) these other creatives have created, jot down ideas as they come to you, colors that inspire you, sounds that move you, and words that catch you by surprise.
- Incubation: Absorbing and Processing – In this stage of the creative process, it may not even feel like you’re really doing anything since it’s your subconscious that’s actually doing all the work. They relate this step of the creative process to allowing a piece of steak marinate overnight in a juicy bath of flavors. To the naked eye, the meat is just sitting there, but in reality, a delicious transformation is occurring. The lenth of this process varies for every individual. You may have your lightbulb moment right then and there or it might come even a few days, weeks, or months later. There is no shame in the lenth of time you incubate your ideas. It is crucial to not rush this stage and allow yourself the freedom and time for the best ideas to formulate.
- Insight: The “Eureka” Moment – This is the stage in the creative process that we are arguably all most familiar with. This occurs after all your thoughts have had time to marinate and a metaphorical lightbulb turns on in your mind. This is often mistaken as step one and causes many to conclude that you must be an inherently gifted creative person in order to ever experience such a moment. As you now know, the reality is that it might have taken days, weeks, months, or even years for such inspiration to hit. This is true even of the greatest artists our world has seen. This can look like ideas come pouring out of you or simply an idea appears as a whisper in you ear.
- Evaluation: Putting Your Idea Through the Wringer – After your ideas have come to light, you have to sift through them and objectively look at each one and determine if it’s a worthy idea to move forward with developing.
- Elaboration: Putting Pen to Paper (So to Speak) – Once your project idea has passed the scrutiny test, it’s finally time to “elaborate.” Or in easier-to-understand terminology, it’s officially time to put pen to paper, ink to canvas, and clay to wheel. This is the phase where you’re actively creating something and bringing your idea to life. This can and usually will be the step that takes the longest out of all of them. You may cycle through developing the idea, hating it and then going a different direction until you are satisfied.
Now that you better understand the five stages of the creative process, hopefully, you feel less pressure to create something mind-blowingly awesome out of thin air. Art, no matter your medium, very rarely happens that way. When frustrated, remind yourself that the creative process is a slow and steady journey and one that involves much more preparation, marination, and self-reflection than many realize.