Practical Magic and The Creative Process

magic _hands_wand_hat_400_clr_6607I had a brilliant time meeting with a client yesterday whose business motivation/memoir I am ghostwriting. We are nearly there on every aspect of the book except the title. 

We’ve been going around and around for weeks with title ideas.  I suggested looking at the Amazon best sellers in his category for inspiration.  Nada.  We brainstormed a bunch of goofy ideas. Nothing good came of it. We looked at favorite quotes and played around with variations. Nope. We talked about various stories in the book and tried to put a title together around one of those. Nothing popped.

Then, yesterday as we were doing a line by line review and edit of the latest draft, inspiration struck!  The author saw the whole thing clearly: the title, the cover art, the colors to use.

It all bubbled up in his mind unexpectedly and it was really good; absolutely true to the spirit and content of the book.  

It’s such fun when that happens and truly feels like magic. The Eureka moment!  We felt it in our bones.  That title was a winner.

The thing is creativity is a process. You can’t force it or rush it, yet nearly everyone can tap into their creative potential, if they’ll stick with the process. 

And creative thinking is like exercise. The more you move the muscles of creativity, the easier it becomes to summon and focus your innovative energy.

The 4 Steps of Creativity are:

  • Preparation
  • Incubation
  • Illumination
  • Implementation

Preparation means you do the work, the research, the investigating of what you’re interested in achieving. You think, write and revise, get something made is a rough form, start getting the structure of what you want to create in place. 

When I was a TV reporter working on deadline, I'd come back to the newsroom and just start writing. No time for writer's block in the news business. Once I got the long imperfect form of the story on paper, I could revise and edit it down for the newscast. 

Incubation is when an idea, concept or vision is rolling around in your head and you’re not even aware of it. It’s being worked out in the back of your mind, even though you’re focused on other things.

Illumination is when the “aha” happens. Something springs up out of all that incubation (which can take a short or a long time) and you know it’s right.  A creative surge hits you. It feels as if a weight has been lifted or the heavens have opened to reveal the answer.

Implementation is the action you take to put the breakthrough into effect.  Sometimes, this step is called verification and revision, meaning you mull it over, test it and perhaps improve upon it before you put it into practice.

I hope understanding the process helps you when you get stuck for a creative idea or solution. 

Linus Pauling famously said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” 

Let the 4 steps play out, see where they lead and get ready for the magic.  

Thoughts?  Please leave a comment.

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Janet Vasil

On-Camera, Speaker & Media Coach/Trainer at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Communication Coach, Media Trainer & Founder Janet Vasil is a former award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who helps rising and future business leaders communicate with courage and charisma on-camera, and off. Contact at

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