Understanding the Creative Process

I came across an article called ‘Demystifying the Creative Process‘, by Charlie Gilkey. Gilkey describes the creative process in four parts: preparation, incubation, illumination and implementation.

The creative process is divided in to four basic parts: preparation, incubation, illumination and implementation. During preparation, a writer may revise their work, read, or write in preparation for their creative endeavour. In the incubation phase a writer’s sub- conscience takes part in what is known as divergent thinking; divergent thinking is connecting, separating and searching for new ideas. Illumination is described by a guy called Gilkey as ‘the Eureka moment’, where a sudden urge to record an idea, or ideas, takes place in the conscience. Finally, the implementation phase (sometimes referred to as verification) is where a writer’s work flows, or is produced and communicated. These labels apply to the creative process in general however specific focus will be applied to creative writers. It has been suggested by a guy called Epstein that the creative process is in fact predictable and orderly and that the “generative mechanisms that underline creativity are universal” (Epstein 1999). This means that everyone has the ability to be creative but some people don’t know how to express it.

It is funny you know, I have never labelled these phases but have always been aware of them, I guess they are innate. Now when my friends ask me to do something, instead of saying, “no I can’t hang out, I don’t feel well,” when all i want to do is go straight home to hibernate and write furiously, which is actually letting them think I am always making excuses for some reason to do with their personality; I will instead declare, “I can not come out today as I am currently enduring the elimination period of the creative process,” thus informing them it is for reasons to do with my personality. It’s as though I take the form of a famous TV show with the comment being made, “sorry, TLG won’t be out until season ‘Implementation’ is made.”

Gilkey compares the incubation period to being “pregnant” with ideas. Sometimes the incubation period can be frustrating while you wait for your ideas to give birth, until – eureka! – they hit you at the most unexpected times!


Tulips on my desk, right next to my stapler…

I came up with this question after experiencing an absurd dream where ‘taking snakes’ was my metaphor for taking drugs: is it safe to drink alcohol when “pregnant” with an idea? What if you didn’t know you had an idea? What if you weren’t even ready for the idea? You can’t abort it, the Catholics would go nuts, especially if they knew you had the idea during school! Furthermore, while you were taking snakes!

Stephen King gave up the booze, Hemingway said ‘write drunk, edit sober’, and I like a good wine or GnT whilst writing, however, is this nurturing my full potential? And what are the long term effects? I am apt to now declare to my friends: “sorry I cannot go out and drink copious amounts of wine with you tonight for I am pregnant with an idea!”


Fall inside the tulip, I dare you.