Is there a formula for creativity? Try this one.

Have you ever tried to be creative in a hurry? It is probably not going to happen. Some of the greatest ideas in history have come at spontaneous random times.  Indeed, many great ideas have come in dreams or during periods of sleep or relaxation. You cannot be creative on a schedule.  Conversely, creativity is a process like any other activity and requires a systematic use and application of time tested principles. The creative process proceeds through steps.  One of the earliest models of the creative process is attributed to Graham Wallas (The Art of Thought, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1926) who proposed that creative thinking proceeds through the following four phases:

The Wallas Model for the Process of Creativity

Preparation (definition of issue, observation, and study)
Incubation (laying the issue aside for a time)
Illumination (the moment when a new idea finally emerges)
Verification (checking it out)

Of course, not all experts agree with the idea of steps or stages for creativity:

For example, Vinacke (1953) is adamant that creative thinking in the arts does not follow a model. In a similar vein, Gestalt philosophers like Wertheimer (1945) assert that the process of creative thinking is an integrated line of thought that does not lend itself to the segmentation implied by the steps of a model. But while such views are strongly held, they are in the minority. (Working Paper: Models for the Creative Processby Paul E. Plsek, 1996)
Which ever way you look at it, time plays a key role in the creative process. If creativity does require preparation, incubation, illumination and verification, then each of these tasks takes time.  I would also add some time for stimulation to the process. Something must be sufficient to stimulate and motivate me to want to solve a problem or be creative. If not, I will not put the time and energy into looking for a solution. Each of the phases noted above takes time. 
Many people believe that it takes a great deal of imagination to be creative. Some of us might feel wanting in this area. It is true that some people are more imaginative then others.  However, I would argue that if we apply time to our problems in a systematic fashion than we can all be creative. If you think you can solve your problems overnight, you are going to be disappointed.  If you realize that it will take time and you are willing to apply a systematic process to your problems then almost any problem is solvable. 
What problems have you been ignoring that a systematic use of time and effort might help you to solve?  How could you start working on those problems?  What changes in your life might occur if you could solve these problems? Have you labeled yourself as unimaginative and uncreative? Who could help you with these problems?  A little help with any issue can provide new insights and illumination. 

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