Greek philosopher Archimedes having his famous bath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Picture a naked man running in the streets, shouting “Yes! Yes! I found it. I understand it now.”
Yeah. That should be Archimedes after a crucial mental breakthrough on his problem regarding the king’s crown.
After a long period of intense concentration on determining whether the king’s crown was 100% gold without harming the item and coming no closer to an answer, Archimedes decided to take a break at the local bath. That break proved more valuable than all the hours he had spent at work.
A lot of creative people do say most of their ideas come out of the blue...when away from real work. An article in by Melanie Pinola on Lifehacker illustrates this well. You can also check designer Erik Spiekermann’s interview with Design Matters.
One of the most cited book regarding thought processes and creativity is the Art of Thought by Graham Wallas (1926). Wallas broke down the creative process into five parts: preparation, incubation, intimation, illumination, and verification.
The incubation section is one of the most underrated part of this process as it involves internalising a problem into our subconscious while taking no action outwardly. This mean allowing our minds to mull on the problem while we engage in a lighter activity of a different goal.
The truth is, when it comes to creative work, it does no good keeping your eyes on the ball 24/7. If you do, you are likely to come up with nothing. You must relax, take a bath, go for a walk, go dance, do something else and free your God-given mind to do its work independent of your interruptions. You may be surprised at the results.