Preye Raymond is a leading content writer who enjoys a blend of pragmatism in his self-help topics.
I’ve been a fan of the popular Graham Wallace principle of creativity which states that every creative process should involve 4 stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.
But these stages did not incorporate the preliminary stage of creativity- which involves the initial ‘spark’ of an idea before the actual ‘preparation’(Wallace’s first stage).
How can we ignite that first spark of creativity before the preparation? This question can be a struggle to answer for most people, including me. Some conclude by saying ‘it is a game of luck’, but I think it is beyond that.
As a writer, I encounter a lot of blocks even after drafting my outline and preparing my materials. This particular paragraph you are reading took me almost 40 minutes to write, because I was trying to figure out what next to type, and how well to organize my sentences so I can relay my message accurately.
When we are being productive, the processes and plans involved are not always linear. Oftentimes situations ensue where our plans would cease to function, or fail to provide the result we had hoped for, and consequently we become tasked with the job of creating new ideas to make adjustments.
Creativity exploits our psychological aptitude and effectiveness. In this post, I am going to discuss some of the effective ways to facilitate our creative thinking to incite useful and intelligent ideas.
I) Emulate Ideas from Past Experiences
Nothing is original. “There is nothing new under the sun” according to the book of Ecclesiastes 1:9. Every creative process is an adaptation of what has already been done before but done differently.
A good creative process should involve the recollection of what has worked in the past and what has failed. Sometimes seperating past victories from past failures can create a fresh idea to prevent the doom of past mistakes from repeating themselves in the future.
This is the reason why cultivating a habit of keeping records and archives of previous tasks, projects, deals, etc, is essential for prospective ventures.
But how is it possible to sieve out an idea from a past victory? These are some of the steps to consider:
- Outline the past procedures and techniques applied in achieving previous results.
- Choose some aspects of the procedures that are feasible and can be employed adequately for your prospective plans or decisions.
- Use recent tools, software, or technology to revamp these procedures were necessary and implement them.
Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube apply this creative technique when updating their algorithms.
They recommend; feeds, videos, friends to follow, channels to visit, etc, based on your previous interactions or engagements with similar feeds, videos, channels, and so on...
II) Use Problems as a Motivation to Create
You are not creative until you’ve solved a problem. There are productive entrepreneurs and business owners who create products and services to solve problems that don't exist or are not significant.
A creative process should be deeply rooted in the problem. For example, 2020 saw a huge increase in ROI for a lot of online entrepreneurs and e-commerce retailers because of the pandemic.
A great number of online entrepreneurs sold more online programs and courses than they have sold in previous years, because of the high rate of unemployment caused by the crisis, specifically programs relating to: work from home, passive income, self-improvement, etc,
A friend of mine, who owned an e-commerce website, confessed that he started making six-figures for the first time in 2020. This is someone who has been in the e-commerce space since 2014. He has been struggling for five years to succeed in business because in Nigeria, the majority are not open to online shopping and e-commerce, except a handful of people. However, in 2020 that began to change and my friend made his millions.
There is a popular Nigerian saying: “problem no dey finish” which means that the world’s problems are endless. Therefore, If you find yourself stuck in a creative rut, let the problems around your work environment, your home, and your society rekindle your ideas.
III) Improve Your Spatial Intelligence
Forrest Parry gathered some plastic cards and had an idea to stick short pieces of magnetic stripes to each card. His efforts became frustrating because the glue he was trying to use wouldn't stick, and it rendered the stripes useless.
When he came home later that day, he met his wife, Dorothea, ironing some clothes. He told her about his failed attempts to glue magnetic stripes to his pack of plastic cards.
His wife suggested that he should try using the heat from the flat iron to press the stripes against the cards to see if it would eventually stick. Parry tried his wife’s suggestion and it worked. The intense heat from the iron was able to melt a stripe to a plastic card without breaking.
This was how Forrest Parry invented the use of “magnetic stripe card” for the U.S government in 1960, while working for IBM. Magnetic stripe cards are now used for credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, security IDs and badges, etc..
What fostered Dorothea’s suggestion was her ‘spatial intelligence’. The psychologist Howard Gardner, was first known to use this concept in his “Theory of Multiple Intelligence”.
Spatial Intelligence or visualization, simply refers to the mental ability to understand and visualize objects, shapes, and lines. Furthermore, this type of intelligence improves your imagination by helping you understand the relationship between two or more objects and shapes, and the movements they concoct to establish new relationships.
Scientific and technological innovations are as a result of spatial intelligence. Fashion designers use this intelligence in their creative process of ‘pattern-drafting’ to design the latest fashion trends or clothes. Visual artists also use spatial skills to visualize the proportions and lines their art pieces should have.
You don't necessarily need to be a scientist, fashion designer, or visual artist to develop your spatial intelligence. You simply need to stimulate your imagination and your attention to details by understanding how things in your environment affect each other.
Dorothea was able to understand the relationship between heat and plastic, and that aided her in creating a brilliant idea that caused her husband’s famous invention.
There are several ways of improving your spatial skills, but I found these three to be most effective:
- Solving Puzzles: They are the most common method for improving visualization and understanding the relationship between shapes and lines.
- Visual arts: appreciating artistic paintings, sketches and illustrations are effective ways to stimulate your creativity and improve your attention to detail.
- Observe Nature: Albert Einstein once said; “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. Learn to experience the world you live in and appreciate the moment, and you might just get the right idea that has been escaping your thoughts. Nature facilitates imagination and it properly acquaints us with the knowledge of how objects relate with each other and how they also affect people.
IV) Don't Wait for Illumination, Meditate Instead
Wallace’s four stages of the creative process mentioned earlier, have been thoroughly reviewed and expounded over the years by researchers and psychological experts. But one stage is still being encouraged as an aspect of creativity, which is-illumination.
A vast majority of people misconstrue the idea of illumination or ‘inspiration’ as a favorable way to get creative without much effort. When they run out of ideas, they casually wait for a sudden epiphany or an “idea out of the blue” to fall from the sky. In most cases, even if they spin an idea from ‘nowhere’, it end up becoming unrealistic.
According to Nick Cave;
“inspiration is a word used by people who aren't really doing anything”.
In actuality, inspiration is propelled by three main factors; meditation, imagination, and experience. We’ve discussed developing imagination through spatial visualization, and we’ve also covered experience when talking about emulation, thus, let's conclude with the power of meditation.
British inventor John Shepherd-Barron OBE, was in his bath meditating when he had the idea that: If a vending machine could dispense candy and chocolate bars, why can't another type of machine dispense cash? And that is how the idea behind the ATM was born in London in the 1970s.
Meditation is a primary source for getting inspiration, but sometimes it can seem like a waste of time because of Impatience. People are always in a rush to get things done that they end up achieving little results for their efforts, and they expect the right ideas to stroll in through the backdoor without taking ample time to meditate and reflect on existing ideas.
When the mind is relaxed through mindful meditation the brain is open to ideas and it enables you to categorize your thoughts from those that are toxic and those that are useful.
When in the office, and you are tasked with coming up with a new idea for a project or a campaign, find a quiet space and relax your head for 10 minutes. Collect your thoughts and meditate on what plans are reasonable and what plans are unreasonable.
If you are thinking of the next chapter to write for your fictional book, and you are stuck in writer's block, employ meditation with a bit of imagination. If it is a non-fictional book, then meditate on past experiences and historical events that can convey your story.
The style of meditation varies, it depends on what your objectives are, and how you want the procedures to take form in real life.
Thank you for reading the post,
If you are struggling with being creative, or you have any comments or questions relating to this topic, you can send me a mail- email@example.com if you are not a Hubpage user. Cheers!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Preye Raymond