The Creative Process


Much has been written about the creative process and how to improve your creativity.  Most of it is abstract theory.  How much of that is really useful?

Here are the key points.

The Purge Phase

Put your first hunches out on the table.  Try them.  Often your first intuitive hunches are ultimately the best ones, after considering dozens more.

Mix into the Stew

Ideas rarely emerge from a vacuum.  Most often they are new ways of combining preexisting elements.  Play with a collision of various elements, perhaps far-ranging, borrowed from even the least likely sources.

Vertical and Lateral Thinking

Edward deBono coined these terms, noting that lateral thinking is especially effective in creative problem-solving.  Read more here.  Welcoming chance intrusions into what you're expecting is one of the fundamental components of creative thinking.  Lateral-thinking dancers see differences from what they expected as opportunities, not mistakes.


You can access your intuitive and more creative right hemisphere if you relax.  Take a deep breath; exhale.  Quiet yourself for a moment while relaxing your shoulders, neck, jaw and hands.  Keep a relaxed attitude, both physically and mentally, as you work on a problem.

Incubation Period

Work on it a for a while then drop it.  Come back to it.  Often the best "Aha!" moments happen after you've stopped concentrating on the problem.

What's New?

Don't worry about the possibility that someone else has already thought of an idea that just occurred to you.  Originality is coming up with something new to you, not something that has never been thought of by anyone in the world.