In 1666, one of the most influential scientists in history was strolling through a garden when he was struck with a flash of creative brilliance that would change the world.

While standing under the shade of an apple tree, Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,” Newton wondered. “Why should it not go sideways, or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s center? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter.”

And thus, the concept of gravity was born.

The story of the falling apple has become one of the lasting and iconic examples of the creative moment. It is a symbol of the inspired genius that fills your brain during those “light bulb moments” when creative conditions are just right.

What most people forget, however, is that Newton worked on his ideas about gravity for nearly twenty years until, in 1687, he published his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. The falling apple was merely the beginning of a train of thought that continued for decades.

Newton isn’t the only one to wrestle with a great idea for years. Creative thinking is a process for all of us. In this article, I’ll share the science of creative thinking, discuss which conditions drive creativity and which ones hinder it, and offer practical tips for becoming more creative.


Read the article “Why creativity is a process, not an event” from

See also: Understanding creative thinking from Tuts+