Creativity is a matter of preparation and experience over genetically produced ideas. Creativity falls in the same category that Thomas Edison talked about when he said “Genius is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration”
90 percent of the creative process is done before you start to generate ideas. Many times the only part of the creative process anyone ever notices is the final product and they assume you just thought it up. Short and sweet, wham, you’re a genius. The reality is it takes hard work to be that creative genius.
If you were to draw a line on a piece of paper to visualize the creative process timeline, you would need to draw a long line not a short line. The first 90 percent is prep time and the last 10 percent is idea generation.
Gordon MacKenzie best illustrated this process with a story about dairy cows. “Imagine dairy cows in a field eating grass. It may not look like much, but that field is where the magic happens, turning grass into milk. Not until the cows get in the barn do you ever see the product, milk. You can’t continually milk the cows and expect to get the same quantity and quality of milk with each milking. That cow needs to spend 90 percent of their time in the field hanging around eating grass before they can deliver their milk.”
The creative person needs time in the field before they can make their magic happen. They must first fill their brains with information, have time to process that information then they can start generating creative ideas. This information gathering may come from years of experience or one meeting to review a creative brief. But it must happen.
So the next time you see a glass of milk, remember, the magic happened in the field not the barn.