The Creativity Process: For a More Creative Brain, Follow These 5 Steps, by James Clear
The 5 Stages of the Creative Process
In 1940, an advertising executive named James Webb Young published a short guide titled, A Technique for Producing Ideas. In this guide, he made a simple, but profound statement about generating creative ideas.
According to Young, innovative ideas happen when you develop new combinations of old elements. In other words, creative thinking is not about generating something new from a blank slate, but rather about taking what is already present and combining those bits and pieces in a way that has not been done previously.
Most important, the ability to generate new combinations hinges upon your ability to see the relationships between concepts. If you can form a new link between two old ideas, you have done something creative.
Young believed this process of creative connection always occurred in five steps.
- Gather new material. At first, you learn. During this stage you focus on 1) learning specific material directly related to your task and 2) learning general material by becoming fascinated with a wide range of concepts.
- Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind. During this stage, you examine what you have learned by looking at the facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting various ideas together.
- Step away from the problem. Next, you put the problem completely out of your mind and go do something else that excites you and energizes you.
- Let your idea return to you. At some point, but only after you have stopped thinking about it, your idea will come back to you with a flash of insight and renewed energy.
- Shape and develop your idea based on feedback. For any idea to succeed, you must release it out into the world, submit it to criticism, and adapt it as needed.
The creative process is the act of making new connections between old ideas. Thus, we can say creative thinking is the task of recognizing relationships between concepts.