Thursday, October 6, 2016

What is the creative process? A spiral model.

The creative process is the process of creating something new that did not exist before. It's the process of conceiving of, executing, and completing a project.

The project can range from writing a book to painting a piece of art, taking a journey, moving abroad, or finding a new job. The possibilities are endless.

The phases of the creative process are often listed as preparation, incubation, illumination or insight, and verification (Wallas' model, 1926), implying a fairly linear process.

However, I find that the creative process moves along an ascending spiral, not along a straight line. You keep coming back to the same stages over and over, but each time you reach a higher level on the spiral path.

The following are the phases of the creative process as I see them. Note that, at any point in time, you may circle back to a prior phase.


1. Idea

I usually come up with the idea first, or - the idea comes to me! If I don't yet have an idea, I start with the next step, Brainstorming. I firmly believe that ideas are best developed unhurried in the mind, not forced or rushed.

2. Brainstorming

Let your thoughts develop freely and associatively around the idea or topic. A mind map might be helpful.

3. Active Resting

Active resting is an important step that should not be overlooked. For best results, it should be incorporated in all of the phases.

What does active resting mean? Taking a walk, exercising, knitting, gardening, picking berries, and similar simple and repetitive tasks are all examples of active resting that allow the brain to sort information, do necessary filing, make connections and associations, etc., on a deeper level. It does not mean reading a book, surfing the internet, watching television, listening to music, talking, etc., tasks which only provide more information to mentally sort and file.

4. Research

Now it's time to gather information. There may be a feedback loop going back and forth between Brainstorming and Research, each spurring the other along.

5. Preparation

The idea is defined and necessary information has been gathered. This is setup time, the final step before getting started. Set up a work space, gather necessary tools and supplies, learn new techniques, practice.


6. Doing the Work

It's finally time to get started, to write, paint, build, travel, whatever the project is. Here is where the work gets done.

7. Review

This is where you check in with your idea, goal or intention. Are you going in the right direction? Are there more factors to take into consideration or include? More research to be done? Do you need to change anything – or start over? Starting over is more common than you think, so don’t shy away from this option. Better now than later!

This is the main loop, between Doing the Work and Review. After reviewing, it's time to keep working, sometimes even go back further for more preparation or research. The key is to do regular reviews, but not so often that the Work is constantly interrupted. Generally, there are natural stopping points in the process. Stay in this loop until you feel done.

Depending on the length and intensity of the project, it may be necessary to take a break at times and get the mind a fresh start after the weekend. After a break is a good time for the review, as you then have some distance to the project and can see it with fresh eyes.


8. Completion

Congratulations, the project is done! The very act of completing a project is important, as it signals to the brain that it could get done, building confidence in your abilities and making the next project easier to start. Read this post for more about the benefits of completion.

9. Cleanup

As you clean up your physical environment, the studio, workshop, office, house(!), etc., the mind also begins to file away information it has previously kept accessible. This physical and mental clearing opens up space for new ideas, projects, and possibilities.

10. Rest and recuperation

Time to rest. It's important to take some time off after each project to allow both body and mind to recuperate.


11. Evaluation

After a few weeks, it's a good time to revisit the project. How did it go? Would you like to continue and do another one? Did this way of working suit you or do you need to tweak the process? What went well? What could be done better? Is there a next step?

Sometimes this phase brings you back into the process again, you come up with a few ideas for improvements and do another round in the creative process!

Vad är den kreativa processen? I denna artikel beskriver jag min spiralformade modell där varje fas eller steg återbesöks om och om igen, men på en allt högre nivå i processen. 

  • 1. Idé
  • 2. Brainstorming
  • 3. Aktiv mental vila - viktig punkt som bör ingå i alla faser
  • 4. Samla information
  • 5. Förbereda och sätta upp projektet
    • 6. Utföra projektet
    • 7. Genomgång - dessa två steg, utföra projektet och genomgång, utgör den främsta iterativa loopen inom den kreativa processen, stanna här eller återbesök tidigare steg tills projektet är klart
      • 8. Avsluta projektet
      • 9. Fysisk och mental uppstädning
      • 10. Återhämtning
        • 11. Utvärdera projektet

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