It’s interesting how counter-intuitive [or, more accurately, counter-commonsense] they are.
To increase creativity we’re always hearing about the benefits of daydreaming for incubating ideas. It’s a nice idea that all the work is going on under the hood with no effort from us. But you’ll notice that all the methods covered here are active rather than passive.
That’s because the research generally finds only very small benefits for periods of incubation or unconscious thought (Zhong et al., 2009). The problem with unconscious creativity is that it tends to remain unconscious, so we never find out about it, even if it exists.
The benefit of incubating or waiting may only be that it gives us time to forget all our initial bad ideas, to make way for better ones. Moreover, incubating only works if the unconscious already has lots of information to incubate, in other words if you’ve already done a lot of work on the problem.
I’ve realised that the one thing i miss about working closely with church people was the chance to talk about things like this in workshops…