A curiosity of distance learning online is that I often think out my problem as I type it out. More curiously, I frequently resolve my own issues by articulating the problem through Blackboard. Weird.

Graham Wallas refers to this as the ‘incubation stage’ of the creative process* and I relate to that with gusto. He describes the incubation stage as that subconscious period where you may in fact be doing other tasks at the time but in your subconscious you are actually pondering the resolutions to your problem or situation. Like a lightning bolt straight to the frontal lobe, I frequently wake from deep REM sleep to write down my illuminating thought – all the while cursing Wallas under my breath.

Sadly, I am usually venting to a lecturer late at night via email when mid-rant I suddenly realise that in the process of outlining my issue I have solved it. I should usually sleep on the problem rather than hitting the send button but I often send the email – all the while cursing Wallas under my breath.  

Wallas goes on to describe the stages in the creative process as ‘preparation, incubation, illumination and verification’. I particularly like the illumination stage which he goes on to describe as the ‘Eureka!’ moment or ‘happy idea’. These moments are far and few between for me and I often find myself feeling constipated trying to forcefully squeeze out a Eureka moment. I just end up with high blood pressure and bulging eyeballs, which is never a really good look.

When those Eureka moments do occur it is a fantastic feeling. It is one of the joys of distance learning that really floats my boat. I rush to log into the Blackboard to blurt my idea out to the rest of my online colleagues hoping someone is online to congratulate me. Then comes the endless wait, the constant back and forth, the endless clicking of the refresh button and sometimes the disillusionment with the lack of response.

I’d be interested to hear about your creative processes. Do you think technology can help you be more creative?

*Article from “The Creativity question / edited by Albert Rothenberg and Carl R. Hausman”, Chapter 2, 1976, pp. 69-73.