Dixie Darr

In creativity, Learning, work on March 5, 2007 at 7:33 am

Time to Reflect

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain

Where do you get your best ideas? Mine seem to come when I’m taking a bath or walking or driving, all times when our brains switch into automatic pilot. There’s a reason for that.

Step three of the creative process (after defining the problem and searching for options) is incubation. It’s one of the steps that distinguishes the creative process from the problem-solving process. In the latter, you define the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, evaluation the options and implement the best one.

The creative process, on the other hand, requires time after the first two steps to let your subconscious go to work and make odd connections among unrelated subjects.

The story of Archimedes illustrates this. Given the problem of assessing the purity of a gold crown, he realized while bathing that objects displace water. He could calculate the volume of the crown by measuring the volume of water it displaced when submerged and thereby calculate the purity of the gold. He reportedly ran naked through the streets of ancient Syracuse shouting Eureka! (I have found it).

His Aha! moment (step 4 in the creative process) would not have come if he hadn’t already been working on the problem. Incubation requires preparation and then letting go. Daydreaming alone probably won’t do it.

There’s always a catch.

©2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

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