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Creativity Is a Process, Not an Event

In 1666, one of history's most influential scientists was walking through a garden when he was struck by a spark of creativity that could change the world. 

While standing in the shade of an apple tree, Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground. “Why does this apple always have to descend perpendicular to the ground,” Newton wondered. "Why should he not go sideways or upward, but continuously toward the center of the earth? Surely the reason is that the earth attracts him. In matter there must be a force of gravity. 

And so the concept of gravity was born. 

The story of the falling apple has become one of the enduring and iconic examples of a creative moment. It's a symbol of inspired genius that fills your brain in "great moments" when the creative conditions are perfect. 

What most people forget, however, is that Newton worked on his ideas of gravity for almost twenty years until the publication of his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles study of natural philosophy in 1687. The falling apple was just the beginning of a decades-long thought trip.

Newton is not the only one who has struggled with a great idea for years. Creative thinking is a process for all of us. In this article, I'll share the science of creative thinking, discuss the conditions that stimulate creativity and those that hinder it, and offer practical tips for becoming more creative.

Thoughts on Creative Thinking

Creation is a process, not an event. It's not just a eureka moment. You have to overcome mental barriers and inner blockages. You must commit to practicing your craft deliberately. And you have to follow the process for years, maybe even decades, as Newton did, to see your creative genius grow. We have to practice creative thinking in order to be good at it and master it.

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Isaac Newton Newton

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