Albert Einstein said that creativity is "intelligence having fun." The truth is, creativity is hard to define, and there are many creative processes. 

When a really creative idea is flowing in me, I don’t identify it in a rational and logical manner, instead I feel elated and almost giddy with pleasure. So what’s causing me to feel this?

What's Happening in your Brain?

Psychology Today posted a study back in 2011 that measured EEG brainwaves during a creative moment. The study showed very high gamma activity, spiking just prior to the answer coming into consciousness, or what we identify as the “aha moment”. The feelings that often accompany a gamma spike? Pleasure and joy -- even giddiness.

If we go further we can liken this to gamma rays, electromagnetic radiation of extremely high frequency and therefore high energy per photon.  I love the visual of energetic light kicking up frenzy in our brain at the moment of a breakthrough.

Four steps

Keeping in mind the physical processes happening in our brains during creative thinking, let’s take a look at one four step creative process. 

Define and frame the creative challenge

Give yourself parameters to work within. These parameters give you the box (the framework) to think outside of, so make sure you take the time to clearly identify the challenge.

Immerse yourself and dig deep

Concentrate deeply on the problem, research and gather information and data that relates to the challenge. Knowledge is power right? The more knowledge we have the greater chance our creative ideas can hold their own.

Let it all go

Your brain needs time to process. Take time to concentrate on the challenge with maximum focus, and then allow yourself to let it all go. Knowing when to walk away and having the self-discipline to do so is a skill. Often taking a break allows the best ideas to come to us.


Putting an idea into action is a challenge unto itself. Often this is where our creative idea gets pared down to a realistic implementation. In this phase don’t forget about creativity, some of the challenges that arise may require you to go through the creative process all over again to find a solution.  


You may recognize this process but be careful not to take it too seriously. The creative process is personal and it may not fit into a neat four step model.

Since everyone has a unique creative approach, understanding your own may be key to unlocking your creative potential. Next time you take on a creative challenge, write down the process. When you are finished, take time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, where you felt empowered and energetic and where you felt encumbered and deflated. But most importantly, don’t forget about the giddiness and gamma rays; after all, reduced to its essentials, creativity may just consist of pleasure and light. 

Emilie Hayhoe is an account coordinator at ?Ketchum Canada?