How To Be a Better Creative Thinker


I feel strongly that all of us have the creative gene and our lives are infinitely better-lived when we look for creative solutions to get us to the next level. I have developed a 3-stage process for myself which has proven to be extremely helpful over the last few years in pivoting from Zandl Group to The Opinionator.

Which is why I was so thrilled to come across this EXCELLENT article about creativity by Jory MacKay on Medium. The process he outlines is closely aligned to what has worked so well for me.

What especially resonated with me is how solitary an endeavor unlocking your creativity can be. Most of us in the business world have participated in numerous brainstorming sessions attended by dozens of people – but honestly, how often have they resulted in anything worthwhile? Rarely!! Which is why the concept of creating in solitude is so intriguing.

Here are highlights but please read the whole article if this topic is of interest.

The creative process involves four steps:

  • Preparation: This is where the creative problem is ‘investigated in all directions’. It’s the accumulation of resources, both consciously and subconsciously, that you’ll eventually use
  • Incubation: Here, we take on a period of unconscious processing where no direct effort is exerted upon the problem
  • Illumination: Eureka! Serendipity, or whatever you want to call it — this is the moment of ‘sudden insight’ where we find a new creative way to solve the problem
  • Verification: The final stage of the process where your unique insight is verified by others.

There is a huge emphasis placed on the period of ‘incubation’ — of time spent alone, letting your thoughts wander and random ideas coalesce. Without incubation there is no Eureka:

  • T.S. Eliot celebrated the ‘near mystical’ quality of idea-incubation.
  • Alexander Graham Bell spoke of the power of ‘unconscious cerebration’.
  • In almost every ‘system’ of creativity devised, the most important part of the process involves a letting go of your consciousness to let the deeper parts of your mind come in and make connections.


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