The third and final piece of advice from the Lehrer lecture was simple: Learn to relax. Simple, right?
This ties in pretty well with daydreaming. As a whole, some of my best ideas occur when my mind is blank. I’m not searching for answers at all; they just appear. Like doing insight problems. Take the word association type games. Three words, and only one connects with all three. Pine, crab, tree. What is it?
The answer makes itself apparent not when over thinking, but when the mind is perfectly and totally relaxed.
As I’m not a neuroscience-y person, I’m not even going to attempt to explain how a relaxed mind produces better results. Something about alpha waves being present in a relaxed state of mind.
But when calm, we can direct our thoughts inward and come up with less obvious answers. Maybe a character or scene is being particularly obnoxious. By not forcing oneself to think about it, a creative solution may make itself obvious. It won’t happen right away, but maybe it’ll hit. That divine thunderbolt.
While I haven’t had any of those moments in terms of writing fiction, I’ve had my ‘a-ha!’ moments while writing papers for school. My favorite? A paper on the benefits of crime.