10 Stages of Creativity

Entrepreneurship is a labour of love.  Successful entrepreneurs require patience, creativity, a little bit of luck and a lot of time spent with your butt in the chair.  You’ve got your vision – you’ve got your product, now to start turning that dream into reality. This is no easy task. Planning, designing, redesigning, testing . . . all of these loom just beyond starting gate.  Optimism and promise expand and then burst just as quickly as soon as you sit at the actual drawing board.  In his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King writes: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” So what does that work look like?  How do you go to it?

10 steps of creativity

Here are the 10 Stages of Creativity

  1. Ask yourself:

    What’s the problem? What solution am I creating?  You need to name your dragon before you can slay him.

  2. Brainstorm

    put no limits on this stage. Imagine a limitless budget and no constraints of things like time, space or distance.  Basically eliminate the physical world and dive into that magic space of creation.    Most of the ideas you come up with in this space will never be actualized in their ideal form; but placing yourself beyond limits allows you to start in fantasy and work backwards into reality.  Some of our best thinking comes from trying to find a way to make the impossible possible.

  3. R&D

    some people call this stage “Research and Development” but I prefer “Razzle and Dazzle” This is the part where you get to see the magic happen and your ideas come to life. Enjoy this stage.  It’s a moment of pure, creative joy before step 4.

  4. Take it to the cutting room

    Sharpen your knives and get ready to kill some darlings.  This stage may feel ruthless and uncomfortable.  A true visionary knows that to be kind to the ideas that work you can’t tie them to ideas that don’t.  Get used to this place – you will revisit it a lot.

  5. Get the tape and begin piecing things together from the carnage

    Maybe the analytics have come back saying that this product doesn’t resonate with the target market.  Maybe your perfect plan requires a team of 8 to execute and you only have a team of 3.  Maybe unforeseen costs have made the budget a little tight. Trim the fat and boil it down to the simplest version.  Ask your team what skills they have outside of their designated job description.  This is the thankless stage of going back and forth with a pair of scissors and a roll of tape and try to create something that resembles the pink cloud vision of the brainstorm. This process may feel like you’re in the weeds.  Lean into this and embrace the unknown.

  6. Put the Pro in Procrastination

    By this I don’t mean kick up your heels and abandon your project to watch the latest Netflix series.  I mean be a pro and get in front of procrastination before it starts.

    • Know your distractions – put your phone on airplane mode or turn off all your social media notifications. Shut the door and lower the blinds.  Do what it takes to get the work done.
    • Make a schedule and schedule yourself breaks – Know ahead of time when your next coffee or meal break will be so you can work until the allotted time.  Don’t forget to put time for your daily tasks (checking emails, returning phone calls, client meetings, etc.) into your schedule.
    • Know when you’re the most efficient – If you do your best thinking between the hours of 1 and 5am and have a space to work in that time, then don’t worry about setting the alarm for 8am and forcing yourself into a routine that doesn’t work for you.  You are self-employed – take advantage of setting your own schedule and being your own boss.
  7. Take a step back and look at where you’re at

    This is an all-important step.  While it’s so important to stay in the weeds even when it is uncomfortable, it’s just as important to take a step back and observe what you’ve done.  This should be done at various stages throughout your project and as such should be written into your schedule. Be kind to yourself and look just as honestly at what is working as at what isn’t.  If you’re working on a team give yourselves a chance to look over your work in style.  Order that pizza.  Open a bottle of wine.  Celebrate the process.

  8. Double-check the work

    Repeat this stage as necessary.

  9. Know when it’s done

    Even though the work never feels done, that deadline waits for no one.  Set a deadline for yourself and treat your deadline like a friend who is your best motivator.

  10. Give yourself a night off after a job well done.

Creativity is no science – Find what works for you and be willing to adapt and grow.

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