The Creative Process, in a Nutshell

Here is the Creative Process:

Ideas —> Waiting —> Connections

The more ideas = the more connections.

After thinking on creativity for years, I’ve concluded that this is it, in a nutshell. It’s true for any industry from scrapbooking to writing music to selling real estate.

The more ideas you have, the more good ideas you have.

So the goal is to increase your collection of ideas.

This may seem terribly simple, but it’s actually life-changing, because it shifts the emphasis from final output – the stress of deadlines and results – to the process itself.

For example, you need a new revenue stream. You need creative inspiration. You strain and stress. You Google the competition. You look through old notes. You feverishly pray. None of these methods work all that well, because you’re focused on the final product.

The solution is – instead of diving to application, to the need – to forget the ROI. Start spending more time on the love of the ideas themselves.

I used to stress about creative deadlines, but now I spend an average of 30 minutes each morning generating raw creative material. Because of this I have a stack of ideas waiting for the right implementation. Literally, I have hundreds of blog posts and four book proposals on tap, as well as dozens of images and ideas for future sermon series for my job as a church creative director. This isn’t boasting, because I used to not have these things.

The difference is the shift from results to ideas, from deadlines to front end.

From misery to peace.

When you engage the front door of the creative process instead of wandering around the back, looking for a scrap on the clearance rack, you will discover a lot of cool content.

And you’ll deliver more, too. But the coolest part is that the finished products you make will probably be secondary to your increased enjoyment of the process itself.

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).

6 Comments on “The Creative Process, in a Nutshell”

  1. Thank you, Len! YES! So simple! And that is exactly HOW the Montessori directors teach children “Creative” ART! It’s all about the PROCESS and NOT about the PRODUCT. In our school, the CHILD was ALLOWED to even TRASH it if they so chose to, because we knew the CHILD learned the PROCESS; and the “SHOW and TELL” piece did NOT NEED to go home to BRAG about!
    The ONLY preschool or care center I’ve witnessed this ART PROCESS in was Montessori and Waldorf. All the others were teacher-made art “PIECES” that the children “maybe” got to cut out OR if already cut out by the teachers, the students got to GLUE them together. Then they were to look at is and say, “Wow! I MAKE that!” NO THEY DID NOT, and they “KNOW” they didn’t! Yet, they receive ARTIFICIAL PRAISE from the teachers and the parents for the “GOOD-LOOKING” piece of “art” work they NEVER really DID! And it CHEATS them of learning the CREATIVE PROCESS!

  2. Thanks Len! Another clear, simple idea to chew on. I’ve started doing a free-writing exercise on my sermon passage 2-3 times each week (10 mins at a time) and it has generated new/unexpected connections between the scripture and a metaphor/image for the week. I’m going to try your method to collect other ideas as well.

  3. I would love to hear so more details on this process. Do you keep a bulletin board? A 3×5 card handy? A notebook? I’m probably one of the people who likes steps and bullet points, but a few more specifics would be helpful.


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