Is There a Map to Creativity?


From afar, creativity can seem like magic. The creative person simply abracadabras their creation into being. It just happens. So, it can also seem like the answer to “is there a map to creativity?” could be flat out “No.” Or, perhaps, something like “Yes, there is a map. But only some people can read it.”

Even though we call the act of creating “creative process,” it’s easy to think of creative process as somehow different from other processes. Not as tangible. Not as reliable. Or that if there is a process for creativity, it’s something only some people can use it with good results.

But those who consciously practice creative expression know a different answer. In fact, a whole set of different answers. Answers that are good news for those who want to express their inherent creativity, but have been stuck by the “how” of it:

  1. There IS a map to creativity – a formula you can use; an outline to follow; a guide.
  2. There are MULTIPLE maps to creativity – many of which are variations on a theme and there are a variety of tools a creator can use and rely on at each point on the map.
  3. The creator may be unconscious of his/her process, but it is there in some way and can usually be described post fact even if the creator was unaware of the process at the time.
  4. The creator can have many maps, paths, guidelines at his/her disposal and can actively choose which to use and at what time – and sometimes the creation itself seems to choose the path.
  5. All processes require work. Creative process is the creator doing the work of creation. It’s not magic. Instead it’s the result of the practical application of and follow through with creative process.
  6. Even practiced creators get stuck; feel like they don’t have a process; need to seek out new processes to get unstuck.
  7. Creative process as practical does not negate beyond-self inspiration and creation, pure flow. So for the creator, creative process can feel like magic; or more like a wholly intuitive, insync and/or spiritually guided experience, but this is different from an observer’s judgement that creativity “just happens” and only for the chosen few.
  8. Creative process can also feel like struggle – for everyone.

Here are a few links illustrating the creative process that I found very intersting, provocative and/or inspiring – enjoy!

A Model of the Creative Process

The Creative Problem-Solving Clock

ZenStorming’s Map of the Creative Process

Brain Dancing’s Three-Step Creative Writing Process

The Creative Process Illustrated – How Advertising’s Big Ideas are Born (book)

Working Paper: Models for the Creative Process (summaries of various models)

Kimberly Brooks The Creative Process in Eight Stages


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