The Key Elements of the Creative Process

By Liternauts posted June 25, 2016

I have always thought that learning how your brain works is one of the best ways to overcome any resistance or fear of writing as this knowledge with enable you to make the most of your creativity. This is why I want to tell you about the creative process (also known as the search for an idea or solution to a problem) which is an internal battle we all have to fight before we begin to write.


Every creative process goes through four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

Every creative process goes through four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

1. Preparation

This first stage may vary slightly depending on whether you know what you want to write about or not. Let’s take a look at an example. Suppose you’re not sure about your story’s details, but you have decided you want to write a war novel. In this case, you can begin with the documentation process. It won’t be a thorough research (that will come later) as you know very little about your story, but you can leaf through books and magazines related to the main topic, watch films and documentaries, go to exhibitions, and interview people. There’s no better starting point.


Now, assuming you don’t know what you want to write about, the most effective method to find a good idea is to do a free search for information where you read, watch, listen to, and learn about anything that interests you. During this phase of the creative process, your mind is similar to an empty cocktail shaker that you can fill with many different ingredients.

2. Incubation

The second stage is like “being on holiday.” Your mind is so full of images, sounds, and words that you just have to wait for the results that come from that mixture. When I reach this phase, I feel like a pot about to boil over. I have many things running through my head, but they are unfinished and disjointed.


The solution to this problem is do something like go for a drink with your friends, cook a delicious meal, take a long walk, play sports, paint, etc. It’s up to you! Your subconscious mind works better when you’re relaxed. The only thing you’re allowed to do during this stage is jot down any thoughts about the direction your story can take, but don’t get obsessed with finding it at all costs.

3. Illumination

The illumination comes when all the pieces fit together, and you say, “Eureka! I’ve got it!” I’m sure you’re familiar with the experience of when you stop thinking about a problem and do something else (take a shower, go to sleep, attend a family meal, etc.), the solution reveals itself as if by magic. Intuition is sometimes more reliable than logic! Needless to say, when the “eureka” moment arrives, make sure you have a pen and paper handy!

4. Verification

In the final stage, you must put your idea to the test by turning it into a story (gather information about the characters and the setting, outline the plot, develop your research, etc.). Don’t worry if you don’t know how to do it because I shall return to this topic later.


For the moment, remember to treat your ideas with respect. They’ll come to you all throughout the creative process, and the worst thing you can do is censor them outright. Creativity is about being able to dream, imagine, and let yourself go just like a child.


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