Creating something new is governed by two processes which, though they cannot be implemented at the same time, can be alternated: imagination and criticism. Imagination and the rearrangement of existing information and resources is a way of establishing new relationships, generating hypotheses and solutions, and new creative and “chaotic” ways of thinking. Logical thinking and the critical selection of hypotheses and solutions that are “viable” and meet the requirements is necessary in setting the course for your imagination. Before the creative product (creative solution) can appear, the creative process must go through the following phases:

  1. Setting a goal
  2. Preparation (Approaches)
  3. Frustration
  4. Incubation
  5. Insight
  6. Development

Setting a Goal

The creative process is triggered by dissatisfaction about something coupled with the confidence to change the situation. Such conditions engender in one an interest in wanting to change the current situation and the desire to set a goal and achieve it. At that moment feelings of anxiety change and one starts perceiving the world in the context of the dissatisfaction (which is often felt physically) about current circumstances and looking for a way to change them.

Preparation (Approaches)

The preparation phase is a period when a person analyzes the problem, goes over the possible options to solve it, implements familiar algorithms, compares a problem with similar ones they have had to deal with before, and makes conscious attempts to solve the problem. A figurative and spatial structure of the problem is formed during the preparation phase. If previously implemented algorithms and solution methods don’t help then the problem is a creative one indeed. The creative process moves to the next phase.


This happens when one realizes that they’re at a deadlock. All efforts to solve the problem haven’t returned any results. One may lose confidence, feel negative emotions, or think that there’s no possible solution (that it doesn’t exist.) Negative emotions signal that one is limited by stereotypes that prevent them from finding a solution. The frustration phase indicates that one should stop thinking about the solution consciously and move to the incubation phase.



Even if one’s original sense of motivation is sufficient, the problem continues to be automatically solved on a subconscious level. On such a level all possible combinations of information and resources are created and everything is combined together excessively; the subconscious brain’s information processing resources are basically infinite. Among the combinations created on a subconscious level are some that are absolutely useless and some that may hold the ideal solution, but there are only few of them that are actually realized. Combinations and decisions created on a subconscious level go through several phases of critical filtration. The most useless combinations are rejected on a subconscious level and those that have passed “internal censorship” are “allowed” to be realized.


One’s original understanding of the problem, built during the preparation phase, has its flaws (a void) that are caused by a person’s stereotypes. Creative thinking helps fill in this void on a subconscious level. Creative thinking is holistic and isn’t susceptible to stereotypes, which usually have a causative basis.

Decisions and ideas that will be realized depend on critical filtration. A weak “inner censor” lets one realize more ideas and make a choice on a conscious level. A strong “inner censor” allows only few solutions to be realized and the needed ones can remain on a subconscious level. Creativity is stronger when more hypotheses surface on a conscious level. The second crucial factor is the filtration criteria. Rejection of certain combinations on a subconscious level is also based on the solution and result requirements that were formed during the goal setting and preparation phases.

Success of the incubation phase depends on the qualitative passing of the preparation phase, which forms the image and structure of the problem. Moreover, positive emotions and a change in scenery and context help trigger the activation of creative thinking on a subconscious level. If the incubation phase doesn’t lead to insight, one more try at the preparation phase can be made. One can start over from the preparation phase as many times as they need until insight is reached.


Insight is the moment of realization and becoming aware of the signaling solution to a problem. Insight can often be sudden since it happens during the incubation phase when one is resting or sleeping and not necessarily thinking about the problem. At first insight is nonverbal and may be felt as anxiety, but that’s why one needs to verbalize and record it, lest it be lost. Insight may also be false; this is learned in the next phase.


The development phase includes checking the validity of one’s previous insight by logical means and the solution’s implementation. One often wonders “will it work,” “does it meet initial conditions,” “is it really the answer to the question”? If realization turns out to be false, one goes back to the previous phases of the creative process.