This is the free-ranging component where the unexpected or the random are drawn into the creative venture.
(Note that there are inevitably some limits right from the start i.e. a selected field or starting point, the topic or initial objective – whether wide or narrow).
1. This first stage contains most of the vision part – inner or otherwise which requires an emotional, intellectual physical freedom to explore. The free-flow bit.
It means a reaching out for ideas, experiences (e.g. social contacts, books, the net, travel, sploshing paint. . . whatever. Or just getting something started.
2. Serendipity. An attitude of openness and uncritical acceptance of the unexpected and only remotely probable, of the unfamiliar, of the truth embedded in an opposing point of view, chance encounters, events, mistakes.
3. The field of vision is inevitably conditioned by personal factors – both the personal style, training and experience as well as an attitude of openness. We are compelled to be aware of our natural preference – for visual, auditory, bodily sensory input – and expressive style – words, images or action.
I think at this point it is relevant to note that this vision can involve the practicing of some skills or attitudes that go with creativity.
One is the state of “flow” as when an activity loses its self consciousness – e.g. the experience of a musician when she/he becomes unconscious of the techniques being used, the car driver unconscious of changing the gears, the sports player automatically just doing the stroke and so on.
The moments occur when solutions or new concepts emerge unexpectedly – such as a problem unsolved at bedtime suddenly being clear in the morning.
The brain does a tremendous amount of work without words and when one’s attention is not interrupting it. Some can achieve a mental clarity with meditation. Others of us can find this perceptive state of mind while just ‘pottering around’. . .
A study done some time ago focused on architects whose creative visions had to face the crucial test of practical uses. Often simplicity of design masked a huge amount of calculation of weights and stresses, of convenience, safety, finance and client acceptance.
This is the hard work part of creativity – but it is creative nonetheless- but very much with eyes wide open - checking, testing, calculating, supervising, consulting, refining, predicting.
Many truly creative artists find the marketing side of their professional commitment a real pain – that is not where their personal creative vision extends.