4. The five stages of the creative process

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Creative work is hard work. It’s sitting down day after day, and getting a project done bit by bit. It’s not sitting by a lake staring wistfully into the distance or waiting for ever-elusive inspiration to strike. 

Think about the creative process like building a house: you have to lay it down brick-by-brick. This process can be repetitive and draining, but at the end of it, you have something to be proud of. 

There are five common stages to the creative process, and while we might pretend they follow a linear path, the reality is, it’s a LOT messier than that and you’ll probably end up jumping back and forth until you get things right. 


Watch the video below by James Taylor, a leading expert on creativity, on these 5 stages:


So, just to recap, after you’ve gotten the first spark of an idea for a project, you’ll need to go through:


1. Preparation


Absorb information. Do your research on what else is out there; brainstorm concepts and solutions; and think deeply about your project subject matter to spark inspiration. 


2. Incubation 


Step away from your project and let your subconscious digest the research you’ve done. This is a ‘cooling off’ period, and it can be as long or as short as needed. 


3. Insight 


The ‘eureka!’ moment, where everything comes together and you’ve refined your initial seed of inspiration into a tangible project idea that you can pitch to others. 


4. Evaluation 


Get feedback from trusted sources to figure out if this idea is worth pursuing.


5. Elaboration 


Implement an action plan with clear goals and deadlines, then get to work! It’s time to put in the blood, sweat and tears. Create a trial version that incorporates the feedback you received, and then another version and another. 


Aaand our own addition…


6. Celebrate!

Reward yourself for completing your project 🌻

A few extra notes....

Make sure you establish the purpose of your project. Is it just for your own personal fulfilment; something to share with friends; or something you want to turn into a job? Establishing the motivation behind your project will impact how you go about implementing it. 

And at the end of the day, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. A fresh perspective is key when you’ve been buried in a project for too long, and other people will see things that you can’t. This can be scary: for some people, it’s easier to ask someone you trust for feedback. For others, going to a stranger or acquaintance is easier, or even asking for feedback online, because it feels less personal. Find what works for you!


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