ADVENTure #17

Graham Wallas' Creativity Step 2: Incubation

By Chris Dunmire | Posted 3/10/24 | Updated 6/19/24

EggsDr. Lucas D. Shallua, President of Mount Eagle College and University1, has a thoughtful take on the unfolding of dreams, likening it to the egg-hatching process of an eagle.

His take also aligns with Graham Wallas's Four Steps of Creativity. Shallua says:

"Every dream, like an eagle's egg, has three phases;

  1. incubation (brooding) period where all the facts about the dream are collected and carefully analyzed;
  2. nurturing period where much is invested initially and very little may be realized immediately; and
  3. flying period where the dream has broken loose and it becomes a reality to the dreamer."

Let's hone in on the incubation aspect of Shallua's process and consider the similarities.

Wallas says the second step in the creative process is Incubation. Incubation is the "percolating" stage where collected information is milled over to allow ideas to filter and bubble forth.

A good visual for how this works is the coffee percolator. Coffee percolators are stove-top pots used to brew coffee through a continual cycle of boiling the water through the grounds until the desired brew is reached.2

Coffee PercolatorYes, you can watch the pot boil as the coffee cooks, seeing the liquid continually cycle through the grounds filter as it gets darker (stronger) with each round (see diagram).3

Likewise, in the creative process, Graham says that after the research stage of collecting information and data has occurred, allowing a few cycles of "percolation" to brew allows ideas to filter or bubble forth.

Some other words with the same idea to incubate and percolate are:

  • pondering
  • reflecting
  • mulling over
  • contemplating
  • processing
  • digesting
  • deliberating on
  • considering
  • and rolling over


Hatching a Plan

Incubating Ideas

Your challenge: Now that you've done research into your new, low-carb cookie recipe, see what happens when you sit for a bit and allow ideas to incubate.

Remember, incubation, like the process of allowing a baby chick in an egg to grow and hatch, is a hands-off process that happens naturally without forcing.

Allow this process to take its course for a bit and I'll check back with you in a few days to look at your percolations.

Meanwhile, I hear there's another update for us on this month-long ADVENTure.


  1. Dr. Lucas D. Shallua. (2024). Retrieved from
  2. Ara Azzurro. (2007). Web Archive. About Coffee. Retrieved from
  3. UnknownFerret. (2008). Cross-section of a coffee percolator. Retrieved from

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