The Creative Process of Writing Fiction


“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will.” This quote from George Bernard Shaw is stating that imagination is the key of all creativity. When it comes to writing, pushing that imagination is done through a process. Essentially every person has a unique touch to their writing process. However, the breakdown is all the same. Research shows that there are five stages to the creative process. The first stage is the stage of groundwork. This could be reading other writer’s work, watching movies, discussing ideas with other people, or even a personal experience. This is when one is gathering ideas or researching the idea in order to further develop it. The idea is generally pushed forward with extensive research that could include online research, visiting places, shadowing people, drawing, and more. Next, is the stage of ripening. During this stage you’re progressing your idea and beginning to create the product. Outlines are usually made at this point in time. You are putting all your research and idea gathering onto a layout. Everything at this point may not make sense and you might not be sure where you’re going with it yet. As a result, writers take breaks from their work which is the stage of illumination. This could be taking a shower, going for a drive, going for a walk, and more. Usually breaks or time away from your work leads to you having an ‘Aha!’ moment. That is the moment when everything begins to make sense, when you realize what you want your piece to look like. You begin to finalize your idea or draft and seek appraisal from your peers. This is the fourth stage of the process. Now you are looking for feedback on your idea and how you’ve created it so far. Your peers may give you criticism that may make you want to change things. It could even lead to a complete re-write of the piece. Finally, the last stage is the stage of application. You’re now applying the feedback, research, and brainstorming you’ve received and working on your final product. “According to Gabora, an individual may begin this step more than once in order to reach the desired outcome.” (Richards-Gustafson 1). Research also shows that at this stage people use the fact that they are almost done, and the anticipation to share their product with others as a motivator to push them through the final haul. This stage can take days, weeks, months, years even. To go even further than what research I could find online I dug into the minds of my peers.

Background Information

“Creativity does not just happen. It is a cognitive process that produces new ideas or transforms old ideas into updated concepts, according to Brussels Free University psychology professor Liane Gabora.” (Richards-Gustafson 1). The creative process is done in every piece of fiction ever made, whether it be short stories, novels, papers for school, and more. There are five stages that are generally done in the process being groundwork, ripening, illumination, evaluation, and application. This process can be used in written piece such as novels, class work, and more. Authors, students, and regular people go through this every single time they write something.

Methods
I used a survey, and research online to collect my data. My survey was created on qualtrics. I posted it on reddit for any students to answer. I sent it to friends over facebook, text messaging, snapchat, instagram, and even had people answer it in person on my phone. I had both genders answering the survey, and it ranged from high school students to already graduated people. Qualtrics doesn’t allow me to copy my graphs, so I had to screenshot them and put them in that way.

My survey was just a general questionnaire about everyone’s creative process when it comes to writing papers, books, stories, etc. It went through the process, asking how many breaks they take when writing, what keeps them motivated, and where they begin with their work. It also asked what they would do to push their idea for their paper or longer piece which included visiting places, extensive research, shadowing people, watching videos or movies, drawing and more. The survey also gathered information on whether or not people require certain things to write such as tv, music, silence, food, drinks and more.
In my online research it was difficult to find a lot, but one of the major things I found when I asked to write my thesis paper for me was the five stages of the creative process which can not only be applied to writing fiction but be applied to several other things. I also looked into what many authors did during their process of writing books and many of them came back to the five stages. They all had something made them unique but it was very small things.

Results
My survey received a total of 51 responses. 25 of these responses were from current college students, 11 were high school students, and 15 were people who have already graduated college. Subsequent to sharing my survey about the creative process of writing fiction with several people, these are the answers I received.

When I asked the people answering my survey to rank from 1 to 6, 1 being the highest, on where they get their ideas from; the top three were personal experiences with 39.22% and 20 people placing at first. Second in being picked first was brainstorm with 22.45% and 14 people placing it at first. However, 14 people also ranked it as 4th in their choices for getting ideas. Third in being picked first was other books/stories with 17.65% and 9 people placing it there. But, 17 people placed other books/stories as their 2nd choice. The one that was chosen to be ranked 6th the most was Other at 72.55% with 37 people placing it at 6th.

After I asked how many breaks people took during the process of writing, the majority was was 1-3 at 49.02%. When it came to 4-6 breaks it was at 27.45%, 6-8 was at 5.88%, and 9 or more being third was 17.65%. Results also showed that high school students and already graduated people took fewer breaks than students in college. Of the 9 or more category 6 were college students, and all 6-8 replies were college students as well.

Conclusion
In conclusion of my research, I’ve narrowed down the process to five stages. The five stages apply to both genders and all ages. The stages are groundwork, ripening, illumination, evaluation, and application. Going through the process can range from a great amount of time to a very little amount of time. Most people also get their ideas from personal experiences, and brainstorming. The majority of people also only take one to three breaks, and are motivated by wanting to be done and being able to share their work. On a final note, when it comes to writing fiction every person will go through the five stages of the creative process in some sort of fashion.