The Layers Of The Creative Process (And How They Can Elevate Your Screenwriting)

Writers are always on the lookout for story ideas to develop into films and TV series. Where do these ideas come from? How do you brainstorm? How does a film or TV idea sprout from an original concept? How do you know which ideas are worth keeping and which to discard? So many things to think about.

Ideas are germinated and nurtured within the three layers of our creative thought processes. There can only be one dominant layer at a time, although the non-dominant ones are still in play.


As its name suggests, this step is when our minds are in full awareness mode. Our curiosity is stoked. We merge new and interesting knowledge with what we already know. We are open to new ideas and welcome the creative unknown.

We are actively brainstorming new story concepts. We usually start with what movies typically do well, what our personal interests are and what are the current over-riding concerns of people. We have the most control over this type of creative thought process, but it is also the most exhausting. Think of it as a sprint for our creative muscles.

This phase of creative consciousness is important when we’re brainstorming new concepts. One idea may bloom into several other ideas or streams. The conscious mind is the most logical and is dominant when ideas are most ordered, categorized, structured, defined and refined.


Our subconscious minds lie in between our dream and alert states of awareness. We are in a semi conscious state and at our most creative. Ideas are less restricted by our critical, censoring conscious minds and therefore allowed to flourish in a meditative state.

This layer of creativity is more dominant when we’re processing information and story ideas. It’s also highly effective when we hit a writers’ block. We can take a short nap, lie down, go for a walk or do any activity that is mentally unrelated to our story. This gives our conscious mind some creative respite.

We can literally tell our brains to come up with story solutions that we can nurture when we actively return to writing with our conscious minds. . Ideas are semi-structured at this stage. This where the theme and characters are better defined.

Think of it as a long distance run for your creative muscles.


Our unconscious minds are the most creative and amorphous creative state. We are in deep sleep and have no control over what story fragments might emerge while we’re sleeping.

Our unconscious minds are tightly inter-connected with our dreams. They are designed to process our recent life events and store them in our memories either as information, knowledge or solutions.

This phase is best suited when our stories aren’t working due to severe writers’ block or we simply don’t have any story ideas. It may lead us into completely new story directions.  Those AHA moments often occur during our unconscious states.

Think of this phase as the marathon of generating story ideas. Trust that your story well is deep and boundless!

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