3 Simple Steps to Spark your Creativity – Skinny Artist

3 Simple Steps to Spark your Creativity

creative spark


What’s your creative process?

by: Tara Leaver

Even if you’re not a painter or a writer or a musician, there are likely places in your life where you do have a creative process, even if you haven’t seen it that way before. If you think about it, bringing anything into existence, from an email to a human being, is a creative process!

Have you ever decided to make a certain kind of meal, and then spend the next few hours cruising Pinterest for good recipes? Do you enjoy burying your fingers in the soil in your garden to plant and nurture flowers or vegetables? Do you find you’re bombarded with ideas in the shower, or when you’re out for a run? Do you ever lie in the sun daydreaming and find yourself involved in an imaginary story?

These are all parts of the creative process; an idea arises, goes through phases of development and ultimately becomes something new, or sinks quietly back into the collective unconscious, perhaps to be picked up in a different way by someone else.

There are so many ways in which the natural human trait of creativity reveals itself in each of us, and what’s more, we can cultivate it to work for who we are and how we experience day to day life. Understanding the creative process brings a greater depth and richness to even the most mundane seeming things.

From my own experience as an artist and actively creative person, I’ve generally found there are three steps or phases to creative process. It’s not a one-size-fits-all plan, or even necessarily a single cycle; it’s more like a flexible blueprint you can lay over your own process for greater clarity and understanding of where you are and where you’re going. Not to mention greater enjoyment of the little things.


Saturate — Percolate — Liberate

Aside from the fact that the alliteration and rhyme makes this idea easy to remember, it also very neatly brings clarity to what happens during the creative process, which is usually far from neat! Usually these three phases are repeated over and over during the creation process; nevertheless it can be helpful to realise where you are and what you can look forward to!


First, the idea comes and you’re excited and eager to get started exploring and developing it. You think about it constantly, you research, spending hours on Pinterest or Google, poring over books, and talking with people about it. You write copious notes, more ideas come to you in sudden bursts, you’re buzzing with ‘new idea energy’. This is the saturation part of the process, where you are like a sponge absorbing as much as you can about your idea.


Then comes the percolation phase. The initial intensity has worn off and now you’re not thinking about it as obsessively or in quite the same way. But you know it’s evolving away in your subconscious. You might experience synchronicities around it, people might appear who can help you move your idea forward in unexpected ways, or experiences might happen that inform the way you’re going to develop it. This phase can be the hardest to accept because it often looks like nothing’s happening for periods of time. The more you’re aware of the nature of the process, the easier it becomes to realise it’s just the percolation time.


Finally, your idea is ready to be released into the wild, whether that means making it public or simply putting the meal on the table! You’ve put both conscious and subconscious time into growing it from an idea seed into a fully blossoming action or creation. You paint the painting, write the story, make the meal or start to build the website.

The beauty of this simple three phase container is that it’s so adaptable to whatever you’re doing. Writing a book and making a meal are not the same actions, but both involve an initial idea, a time of quieter evolution {as we sit with our characters and plot line, or wait for the food to cook}, and an ultimate birth into existence.

It acts as a reminder that all things change, even when we feel like nothing’s happening. Humans are part of nature’s cycles, and we only ever need look to a garden to remind us that when it looks like everything’s died and nothing’s happening, beneath the surface life is quietly pulsing and preparing to liberate itself.

This comforts me when the initial excitement of a new idea has abated and I’m not sure what comes next. I can trust that beneath the surface the idea is growing, and if I stay alert to synchronicity and intuitive nudges, it will continue to evolve until it’s ready to be liberated. It can feel frustrating when the timescale doesn’t match your plans! Trust is required. But don’t the things still get done? And when they don’t, it’s for a reason, even if that reason is that you simply changed your mind.

Does this allow you to see creative process in a new way? If you previously didn’t consider yourself creative, can you see the ways in which you are? What can you think of that you do in your daily life that involves these three phases? How might you use them to enhance your experiences and create more consciously?


TTara Leaver Artistara Leaver is an artist, teacher and creative mentor working from her home studio on the south coast of the UK. She runs online art courses which support different aspects of the creative experience, with a focus on uncovering and developing your natural and unique artistic expression. You can connect with her through her website or on Facebook, and for a free mini ecourse on making art your way, click here!

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About the Author

Drew is a writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist creative community. You can also find him online at OutmatchFitness.com where he writes about fitness, nutrition, and his continuing battle with father time.

I like Tara’s analogy of a seemingly dead garden, but beneath there’s much going on. I’ll bet to some, Steve Job’s time after he dropped out of school appeared wasteful. Taking random calligraphy classes and such. Yet, beneath the surface a creative force was emerging, who would go on to create the Apple computer phenomenon. We should all keep striving with our creativity, but times of dormancy may actually be budding growth, just not yet visible. Many thanks!

    Thanks John for sharing your thoughts with us. I think you’re absolutely right that there is a natural ebb and flow to almost everything including our creative life. It’s important to give ourselves the space to reflect and connect all of the information that we are constantly consuming. You never really know in advance what is going to be that missing piece that pulls everything together, so all you can do is cast a wide net and keep your eyes open for unexpected thoughts and ideas. At the same time, we have to find that delicate balance between action and inaction–between doing stuff and just sitting around waiting to do stuff. It’s easy to fall into that trap and end up going too far in either direction.

I also loved the garden analogy. I know after I get that initial creative spark, sometimes I will hit a wall with an idea and it takes walking away from the idea and letting it rest in my subconscious for a bit in order to get to the next phase of creativity. I loved the way you broke down the three phases. Great post!


So that’s how it works! I think I knew there was a process like this but I have not seen it described so succinctly and described so well. Thank you. When I’ve thought about what goes on in my own creative projects, I’ve described what goes on in the cyclic first two steps as wallowing. After my attention is initially completely snatched, I find that I’m completely absorbed trying to understand and explore it. But that never happens in one sitting. It happens over weeks or years often with intervening days or months where it sits caught in a slow, viscous, simmering whirlpool where sometimes nothing happens until I’m taking a shower or I awake from a dream and…flash! I’m consumed with it again. Eventually, I try to release it but it usually turns out to be just one experiment and then I just go back to wallowing in it more. I think I enjoy wallowing too much.

    I think you’re right Jon, it is sometimes too easy to get stuck in that creative trap of wallowing. I do believe there is a necessary “percolating” step where things kind of come together behind the scenes, but it can also sometimes stall our progress if we’re not careful. After all, it’s hard to know exactly when it’s done and ready to be brought forth into the world. It’s often far easier to just do nothing and wait a little longer. Personally, I tend to stall out at the initial “Saturate” phase because I have this tendency to overindulge in the research stage. Again, it’s hard to know when you actually know enough to move forward. I always seem to be playing this absurd “what if” game where I convince myself that I need still to dig a little deeper. I always need to read just more book or one more article because I’m convinced that it may hold the one vital piece of information that will pull the whole project together.

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