The fifth phase of the creative process: elaboration

Why is elaboration a phase in the creative process?

Elaboration is listed fifth in the seven steps of the creative process that I have written about. It comes after you have done your preparation, allowed time for incubation,  had some inspiration and carried out your evaluation. It is unwise to rush into one phase before you have completed (well nearly) the ones that need to precede it.

What is elaboration?

Elaboration is the working out of the details of your project. This is where the perspiration occurs. It is not to be confused with implementation. This phase should take place before you go live. You have still time to change things or even abandon the project. With a book, it is writing the first draft. Not going to a publisher, not even self-publishing. There’s work to be done after this is finished. You do not go into elaboration while sitting in the garden or walking in the countryside. You need to be in the office, putting it all on paper. Probably discussing it with the people who will have to carry it out.

A man studying a computer screen with a magnifying glass: working out the details of his project?
A man studying a computer screen with a magnifying glass: working out the details of his project?
What not to do during elaboration: Risk Management!

At this stage, try not to do too much Risk Management. (Did I really write that?) You can pour cold water on your ideas before you’ve had time to work them out fully. You can overthink or overanalyse everything. Once you’ve got something fairly well thought out, you should ask what are the risks and how can they be managed. Remember that risks need to be evaluated in relation to the potential costs and benefits of the project. That will enable you to see whether the cost of possible control measures is likely to be justified.

For more on managing risks, read my book Load the Dice.

Three dice: risks need managing!
Three dice: risks need managing!