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My Creative Process



So-called experts described the  creative process in different ways. In 1926, a social psychologist named Graham Wallas narrowed the process down to five stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, evaluation, and verification. I'm not sure what to make of those steps. For sure a illumination is vital. You need an idea. And you do have to evaluate it.  Is it good? Does it suck? Could it be good?

Then in the 1940, this guy named James Webb Gunn, an ad man, came along with his five steps: gather ideas, recombine them, step away, come back, and get feedback.

Useful. You do have to gather ideas. In my books Hey, Writers and Hey, Songwriters, the are great tips on how to do this, including borrowing and stealing, but in a nice way.  Tip: every true artist steals. Every artist steals ideas, too.

So steal. But my dear creative friends, make the idea gathering process a conscious part of your creative process. The foundation of it. The best way to gather ideas?  See the world through artist eyes. What does seeing the world through artist's eyes look like? First of all, you are that artist. Be that artist.

Webb says,  "[T]he habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas."


This happens for artists like you and me through the art of noticing; learning that what we hear, feel, smell, see and read all around us—the magnificent and the banal—are all be possible ideas for art. 

John Lennon sang, "I read the news today oh boy..." Beautifully banal. See the newspaper as an idea.  See the English army winning the war as an idea. See it all as art potential.

Whatever ideas you get, or you steal, or borrow, and recombine them and add your own magic. That is the beginning and basis and blooming potential of the creative process.

That's idea #1: See like an artist.


Try it. spend a day doing it. Keep notes.  


How does that resonate with you? Are you seeing the world as an artist? Are you noticing the world in this way? Let me know.


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