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Friday, July 13, 2012

Growing Ideas is a Process, Not a Lightning Bolt | Carolyn Kaufman, Psychology Today

Supporting her myth-breaking statement that creative "ideas do not explode fully formed from the unconscious like a bolt of lightning," Kauffman writes:
A lot of the research suggests that most writers use a complex, multi-stage process when they create. Different researchers have named different stages, so the discussion that follows merges several theories to give you an overall picture. You’ll notice that the bolt of lightning doesn’t happen until Stage 5.
Here's a summary of the stages Kauffman describes:
Stage 1: Problem Finding/Formulation
Even before you identify an initial idea—even before you start asking “what if” questions—you may need to explore the elements of the problem. ...
Stage 2: Preparation
Preparation involves analyzing the context of the problem, defining what’s needed, and then drawing on one’s existing education and ability to solve problems ....
Stage 3: Frustration
Some stage theories include a frustration stage in which the individual reaches a limit on her ability to deal with the problem/idea. ... According to researchers, this frustration may lead to the crucial next stage.
Stage 4: Incubation
During the incubation stage, you’re not consciously working on the idea, but your unconscious is, trying out different associations or idea combinations. ... The trick with the incubation stage is to keep your unconscious working. It will give up if you do. ...
Stage 5: Illumination
Once the unconscious happens upon something good, it pushes the idea out to the conscious mind. ... Of course, the illumination phase is the most delicate stage of the process ....
Stage 6: Verification
Once you get the idea, it’s still just a seed—it needs to be evaluated, developed, and refined … which may again push you back to the Preparation stage.
Kauffman concludes:
Remember, creativity is fluid; it requires flexibility and a willingness to try things others might not. It also requires you to be an active part of the development of the idea … even when you’re feeling frustrated!
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This article is featured in today's (July 13) Garbl's Creativity Connections -- available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

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