Paper Example on the Four Stages of the Creative Process

Published: 2023-01-22
Paper Example on the Four Stages of the Creative Process
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Art Cognitive development
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1820 words
16 min read


Problem-solving is an everyday life function to the human brain of an individual to solve problems. Research is itself a problem-solving model (Wang, 2010). The Wallas' model is among the most common models of the creative process. Sadler (2015) outlines four stages essential to problem-solving steps of individuals in more of an artistic context. Sadler (2015) documents the stages of creativity as; preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification. The applications of the steps have been used and impacted massive numbers of people (Sadler, 2015). A close look at the Art of Thought reveals that there may be more than four stages in the model. However, this paper intensively illustrates the four standard steps of the creative process, critiques of the process, and the application of the process in life.

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The Four Stages of the Creative Process

The first stage of creativity is the preparation stage. The preparation stage involves gathering information after defining the problems that may exist and identifying the gaps and needs. The adoption of a problem attitude and the analysis of the problem itself also occurs at this stage. The domain in which the problem resides requires the mastery and application of logical rules. All directions of the problem are looked at, and methods of gathering information such as experiments, observations, interviewing people, and literature reading can be employed.

Education could be part of the preparation of an individual which could provide a body of remembered words and facts and several thought systems. The fact that something is wrong stimulates individuals to pull resources together. Other occasions prove that the preparation stage is fruitless and the correct solution may perhaps elude an individual. Sadler (2015) describes that individuals move to the incubation stage when they no longer consciously think about the problem.

The incubation stage is the second stage of the creative process. At the incubation stage, all activities related to the problem are stopped. The incubation stage involves two forms; the period of abstention being spent on other events, or the period of relaxation involving no mental work at all, which was referred to as mental relaxation. The period is described best as doing a non-demanding task. The negative attribute during incubation was that individuals do not think of a particular problem. The positive side was that the incubation stage involved unconscious mental events. Sadler (2015) argues that leaving other issues while working on others could be a solution. However, this method suffered in richness and depth. More productive and more in-depth solutions could be achieved by the free working of the mind or the partial process of the brain.

Severe forms of creativity can arise, and there should be a period of mental relaxation so that it does not interfere with free working. Information can be processed linearly and logically if an individual intends to solve a problem. However, unexpected combinations of ideas can emerge when an individual does not lead the concepts in a straight and narrow direction. Mental relaxation can require physical exercise or activities which amount to executive functions. The incubation period was followed by the illumination period where an individual found an answer.

The thinker coming up with answers characterize the illumination stage. Individuals would have insight and catalysts into a solution to a problem. The idea would foster from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind. The intimation is a moment in the illumination stage where an individual is in the state of rising consciousness that indicates that a flash of success is on its way. Individuals at this stage know that there is a forthcoming solution. The step may also involve unplanned breaks from mental activity such as one getting sick. The stage was referred to as where the Aha! Moment occurred. The last stage was the verification stage. The verification stage involved ensuring that the solution was correct and precise. The stage consists of checking that the idea was accurate, of value, and valid. Actions at this stage are being done to improve the creation. An individual at this stage decides whether the insight is worth pursuing and whether the idea is distinct or unique.


The creativity model has received a lot of criticism from psychology researchers. The generalization in the model, as well as the four stages, has been questioned by the psychology researchers. In the first phase, there have also been questions regarding whether a solver may have a solution to a problem within the given space.

The four-stage model does not accurately reflect the full account as proposed by Wallas' Art of thought despite it being an anchor for many creative types of research. A four-stage model given to the intimation stage would be a more accurate representation of the art of creativity. A model with the three levels of proximity; consciousness, non-consciousness, and fringe consciousness together with five stages of creativity which includes the preparation stage, incubation, intimation, illumination and verification would be a more accurate model to follow to which theories, concepts, and implications can be drawn.

Cultural variation in the creative process exists. The east and the west need to be considered when defining and understanding creativity. The west refers to Asian countries, while the east refers to countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. The Eastern area characterizes the creative process as an ongoing process which involves a circular movement while the western area regards the process as a linear movement to a new point. The western process also follows a problem-solving approach, while the eastern process values the personal and emotional aspects. The cultural norms which an individual adheres to build conceptual and perceptual sets which may curb the fluency of the process. Individuals in different cultures have different conceptions about creativity. Various measures based on culture contents may be used to measure creativity. Findings would only be accurate when culturally appropriate standards are used.

Western cultures view a product, and process-based creativity ore essential and highlight the problem solving and pragmatic outcome of creativity while eastern cultures put more interest in personal creativity and creative spirits and emphasize more on inner essence. Creativity to easterners require a reinterpretation of tradition while to westerners; creativity suggests a break from tradition, and an individual can go beyond what exists. The westerners also value creativity as solving problems for personal success while the easterners' value creativity as the contribution an individual makes to the social and moral society. Culture underwrites creative processes. It as well provides fundamental materials which are processed in creativity. Culture leads to different preferences during the selection of models in the creative process among different cultures.

Personal Application

The stages of creativity can be applied in the real life of a person. In the preparation stage, I may prepare by reading literature books or conversing with others. I would try to find a challenge, problem, or an opportunity or that which fascinates me. The goal at this stage is to gather much information such that a new and creative idea may spring up. I may also read journals and other materials from the internet. At the preparation stage, I may conduct experiments, observe the behaviors of other people, and even interview them to learn more. I could also gather my own past experiences. I would endeavor to complete my projects on time to allow time for the incubation period. I would also avoid stress as it is unfavorable for deep creativity.

The incubation stage is where all activities are abandoned. Sleeping and mediating may be probably one of the best ways I can go through the incubation stage. The human body, at this stage, has the chance to reboot itself. I could also try new experiences. After trying to solve a problem without success, I can walk away, abandon the problem, and allow the information to incubate. A solution may begin to emerge at the semi-conscious level until illumination occurs. At the incubation stage, I may also engage in physical exercise such as running or walking, which is a tool to aid in mental relaxation. I could play with the children, for instance, or even do laundry, or build a fence that I have always wanted to finish. I can also work on another problem that can be quickly solved while leaving others unsolved. If I would be an author who has written for weeks, I would probably go for months before writing other materials. Anything that stimulates my mind but does not involve solving my problem is what I would go for in this stage.

The illumination stage helps the creation become visible. I can come up with simple, logical, or common solutions to problems to arrive at the Aha! Moment. The feeling of emotional joy would probably take over me at this stage, knowing that I have filled a gap. The verification stage is where I would confirm whether my idea works or needs to be revisited. The creativity model is influential among researchers.


The four stages swing between conscious and unconscious modes of experience. In the creative process, intimation was a linkage between the incubation stage and the illumination stage. The verification stage involves confirming that the idea is specific and valid. Cultural norms can influence creativity. Although the creative process almost sounds like that of a linear sequence, it is not a step by step approach. The process is a non-linear and iterative. The Wallas' model may not be a creativity model but offers researchers a framework and a conceptual architecture in which theories and concepts may be derived and positioned.


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Sadler-Smith, E. (2015). Wallas' Four-Stage Model of the Creative Process: More than Meets the Eye? Creativity Research Journal, 27(4), 342-352. Retrieved from

Shao, Y., Zhang, C., Zhou, J., Gu, T., & Yuan, Y. (2019). How Does Culture Shape Creativity? A Mini-Review. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1219. Retrieved from

Sriraman, B., & Lee, K. H. (Eds.). (2011). The Elements of Creativity and Giftedness in Mathematics (Vol. 1). Springer Science & Business Media. Retrieved from

Wang, Y., & Chiew, V. (2010). On the Cognitive Process of Human Problem-Solving. Cognitive Systems Research, 11(1), 81-92. Retrieved from

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