What Is Your Creative Process

Listed are the collected responses for "What is your creative process?

  • It idvolves me thinkingover one thing or idea over a longtime, and then finally coming to a conclusion on that thing.

Initially, it sounds like this person is brainstorming for a solution. This was one of the first structured attempts to enhance creativity. It is designed to encourage the use of the imagination and wild ideas. It was designed specifically for groups, increasing the probability of good and novel ideas. However, individuals can engage in brainstorming by "attempt[ing] to generate a set of possible courses of action or approaches to a problem, reserving criticism and evaluation of the list until it is relatively complete." This is sometimes referred to as the principle of "deferred judgment". (Nickerson, 402)

However, this response is also similar to the "Aha! moment" discussed in class. Although the individual does not reference a decisive moment, the elongated thought process of trying to come up with the right response is similar to the experience described in Professor Sawyer's book. As described in our Dot Puzzle section, the "Aha! moment" was studied by Gestalt psychologists through the use of insight problems. Psychologists were trying to figure out how the brain came to a solution- whether it was a flash of insight or an unconscious but systematic process. In the end, studies were able to prove that there is indeed an unconscious thought process that occurs. Therefore, even while an individual is struggling to come up with the solution, their brain is continually drawing them closer to the correct response. Looking at the response above, the time the individual is taking to "thinkingover" is really time that his brain is honing in on the answer. The individual describes the situation as "finally coming to a solution" like it eventually just appears. However, this is not the case.

  • I need to look at whatever I am working on, then I manipulate what I am working on until I like the outcome.

This response is very similar to the one above it and also gives reference to the act of "deferred judgment".

  • Exercising and opening my mind to new ideas by listening to others, then making my own thoughts come to life in a mix of others input and my own.

This thought process is similar to IDEO's thought process, which requires teams to work together in order to come up with the best solution to the design problem at hand. Instead of giving the project to one engineer, team members from diverse backgrounds brainstorm together to come up with the best possible solutions. At IDEO, each team member does research and brainstorms individually. At the end of that time, the team comes back together and share what they have learned. All of the sketches and ideas are placed on the walls around their meeting space. The team takes time to study all of the ideas and rate them according to preference. After this is completed, the popular ideas are taken and compiled into a prototype. This initial design is a combination of everyone's ideas, and is assembled as a group. From there, modifications are made and the product is further improved. Collaboration is not only encouraged, but is an essential part of company life at IDEO. The Company has designed its space to promote conversation among its employees- movable furniture, low walled cubicles, open meeting spaces, and play spaces in the office all encourage the sharing of ideas. This environment created by IDEO resembles this student's own creative process. They also combine their own ideas with those of others in order to come up with the most innovative solution.

  • I like to leave things alone while I ponder. Also, a lot of times things just pop into my head.

Here again is an example of the "Aha! moment" being incorrectly referenced. Although unaware of the processes going on, there is significant activity in the brain working to narrow the choices of possible solutions. Even though it appears that "things just pop" into our heads, it is a very systematic process which brings us closer to the desired solution. Kenneth Bowers' experiment demonstrates this unconscious process. First, a target word is chosen. Second, a list of fifteen other words which are all remote associates is created. The test is presented as follows…


Participants would be asked to read the list in order and guess what the target word was after each new word. Results showed that most people had an idea what the word was after ten items and were fairly confident after twelve. The fascinating part of the results was the increasing correlation of each word to the actual solution. A computer program was designed to analyze how similar subject's responses were to the target. With each guess, participants drew closer to the final solution (even though they were not yet aware of it). This experiment gives a visual illustration of the internal processes working to come up with the solution that appears to us in a flash.

This person also likes to walk away from a problem when they are stuck. This is "another simple technique to enhance creative productivity that has received considerable attention in the literature…laying aside, temporarily, a problem or task on which one is failing to make headway despite a concerted effort to do so…There are many accounts in the literature of unusually creative people being inspired with novel and productive ideas at unpredictable times, when not actively thinking about the subject of the inspiration…" (Nickerson, 418) This is now referred to as a period of incubation- "which one does not consciously think about the task but the mind continues to work on it below the level of consciousness." This person is on the right track to walk away for a short time and take a break.

  • I close my eyes. I fire my neurons and I do work

This response does not really indicate much of a creative process as there is no specific outlet for creative thought. It is believed that this person responded to the question with their approach to homework in mind- making it hard to understand what exactly is meant by this person. When they say that they close their eyes, I am assuming it is to take time to think. If that is truly the case, then this person is engaging in some form of brainstorming. Although it is often used for groups, it can be done individually. There are three main steps to the brainstorming process- "understanding the problem, generating ideas, and planning for action." (Nickerson, 401) The process requires the participant(s) to come up with as many solutions as possible. Wild and crazy solutions are encouraged. It is believed that the process lowers inhibitions- therefore making an individual more likely to contribute when in a group scenario. When there is just one person brainstorming, the hope is that the individual will come up with a solution they might not initially think of.

  • Listen to music & just think.
  • If i ever have the need to kinda "shake things up" in my mind I usually write 'cause I thik its a great outlet & a great way 2 stimulate new ideas :)

The previous two responses are very similar. They both involve the individual finding a comfortable and relaxing activity. Both can help stimulate creative juices by relaxing the mind and beginning a streaming thought process. It is similar to the phenomenon of "group flow" which is a heightened state of consciousness. It occurs when there is " unified flowing from one moment to the next, in which we feel in control of our actions, and in which there is little distinction between self and environment; between stimulus and response; or between past, present, and future." In order for this to happen; the challenge and skill level of the group members must match, the goal must be clear, there needs to be immediate feedback, and there must be complete focus on the task at hand. Although the above students are NOT engaging in "group flow", they are using mind opening techniques that will hopefully generate a similar outcome. For example, when an individual sits down to write, they may not know what the story is or where it's going (particularly in the style of writing which is mentioned above). However, the longer the individual writes, the more developed the story becomes. Ideas start flowing about characters and plot lines- eventually the writer is just writing the thoughts that are flowing. It may be entirely nonsensical; but the goal is to get the mind flowing in the hope that eventually the big picture will appear to the writer. It's the same principal used in the movie Finding Forrester. When Jamal hits a writer's block, Pulitzer-prize winning author William Forrester allows Jamal to use one of his essays as a jumping-off point to get him started. Forrester's instructions were clear and concise. Jamal was to copy Forrester's work until he had an inspiration. In the end, only the first paragraph is the same. Jamal took a piece that was Forrester's and made it his own by allowing his mind to be opened. Copying the first paragraph got him started, helped him establish a rhythm, and free his mind. Then, he was able to continue with a novel and brilliant story.

  • Just think forever until I come up w/ something.

This response is similar to the one "I close my eyes. I fire my neurons and I do work". It sounds like the individual is describing a form of brainstorming, however that is an assumption. Perhaps this individual is referring to a homework assignment in which creativity is not highly valued.

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