Creative thinking is a valuable skill to have, as it can help solve problems in both personal and professional aspects of life. It’s a common belief that creativity is something one is born with, but the truth is that anyone can learn to be creative by following a set of steps. The creative process can be demystified and made accessible to everyone with a five-step approach.
To understand the process better, let’s look at the story of Frederic Eugene Ives, a man who solved a problem in the 1870s in the printing and newspaper industry. Photography was a new and exciting medium at the time, and readers wanted to see more pictures, but the problem was that printing images quickly and cheaply was a challenge. The process of photoengraving was time-consuming and expensive, and it involved commissioning an engraver to etch a copy of the photograph onto a steel plate by hand, which often broke after a few uses.
Ives was a printer’s apprentice and went on to manage the photographic laboratory at Cornell University. In 1881, he had a flash of insight about a better printing technique and quickly translated it into reality. He patented his printing approach and spent the remainder of the decade improving it. The Ives Process reduced the cost of printing images by 15 times and became the standard printing technique for the next 80 years.
James Webb Young, an advertising executive, published a guide in 1940 titled, “A Technique for Producing Ideas.” He stated that innovative ideas occur when new combinations of old elements are created, and that creative thinking is not about generating something new from scratch, but rather combining existing elements in a unique way. He believed that the ability to generate new combinations depends on one’s ability to see the relationships between concepts and that the process of creative connection always occurs in five steps.
The five stages of the creative process are as follows:
- Gather new material by learning specific and general information related to your task.
- Thoroughly work over the materials in your mind by examining facts from different angles and experimenting with fitting ideas together.
- Step away from the problem and engage in activities that excite and energize you.
- Let the idea return to you with a flash of insight and renewed energy.
- Shape and develop your idea based on feedback by releasing it into the world, submitting it to criticism, and adapting as needed.
The creative process used by Frederic Eugene Ives offers a perfect example of these five steps in action. He gathered new material by working as a printer’s apprentice and managing the photographic laboratory at Cornell University. He thoroughly worked over the materials in his mind and had a flash of insight while asleep. He then stepped away from the problem, and his idea returned to him with renewed energy. Finally, he shaped and developed his idea based on feedback, resulting in the Ives Process.
In conclusion, anyone can learn to be creative by following these five steps and understanding the creative process. It may take courage and practice, but the results can be truly innovative and life-changing.