In which you generate a large number of ideas

This is the research or idea-generation phase. The process is uninhibited and characterised by spontaneity, experimentation, intuition, and risk-taking.

Many people wonder where creative people find their good ideas. The answer is, in amongst a huge pile of bad ones. Creativity is like mining for diamonds, most of what you dig is thrown away, but that does not make the digging a waste of time. If you ‘cannot think of anything’ you are having difficulty with this inspiration phase, perhaps because you are too self-critical, or expect good ideas to come too quickly.

In the field of the creative arts the inspiration phase is often associated with a search for an individual voice, and with an attempt to conjure up deep feelings of (for example) empathy, spirituality, or an intense identification with the subject matter.

This is not a phase in which to be negative or worried about form, practicality, rhyme or quality. You should be rejecting at least 90% of your initial ideas. Let yourself off the leash! If most of the ideas you create are workable, then you did not take enough risks. This phase is like brainstorming.

Inspiration mindset

One of the main difficulties for creative people is that the different phases require radically different, even opposite ‘mind-sets’, each of which is difficult to sustain without deliberate effort.

In order to generate a large number of different ideas you need to be:

  • Deeply engrossed
  • Fearless
  • Free

That is spontaneous, risk-taking, joyful,’slap-happy’, intuitive and improvisational. It is very common instead to be self-conscious and fearful, and to try to use inappropriate logical thinking. There is also a common tendency to accept your first decent idea, instead of exploring more fully.