The Wallas Model for the Process of Creativity

Notes: Graham Wallas in his book the Art of Thought details what is one of the first models of the creative process. In his model creativity may be explained with the following 5 stages (or 4 depending on which literature you agree with):

1) preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual’s mind on the problem and explores the problem’s dimensions),

2) incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening),

3) intimation (the creative person gets a ‘feeling’ that a solution is on its way),

4) illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness); and

5) verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).

The implied theory behind Wallas’ model — that creative thinking is a subconscious process that cannot be directed, and that creative and analytical thinking are complementary — is reflected to varying degrees in other models of creativity.

The ‘spark’ is always surrounded by heavy bouts of dry analytical work and though it seems next to impossible to convince those whose lively hood includes applying for IP, it’s all in the latter. An idea has little value unless released to the world and executed upon.


  • Very interesting: I’ll have to see if I can find a copy of the Art of Thought sometime.

  • Creativity is something that has just recently made a return visit. Stress is a great dampener of creativity and since I’ve learned to transform my stress, I’m much more creative.
    I recently taught a workshop to gr. 4,5 & 6 students and asked them their thoughts on creativity. Everyone of them was able to identify why creativity was important in everything we do & learn how to access it.
    Phenomenal.
    I am definitely adding the Art of Thought to my reading list. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
    Warmly; Marianna
    @AuntieStress

  • Thank you for the comments.

  • Michael Sellars

    Intimation…
    I guess that’s the “gut feeling” concept, which seems to me very risky when taken alone. Moreover, it is difficult to define “intimation” in a universal way. Seems very subjective.