A roadblock to a desired mental path is called an IMPASSE. Being creative involves getting around impasses—or vice versa—getting around impasses requires creativity.
When you hit a new problem, it makes you think:
- Some problems are easily solved
- Other problems our brain uses a mental search function, comparing the problem to previous problems to find a possible solution
- Brand new problems with no procedures to follow—this is the space of reinvention, where there are no obvious answers, where solutions from similar situations don’t work
What is needed is not a logical solution, but one that recombines knowledge (the maps in our brains) in a whole new way.
That’s called an INSIGHT.
Go from IMPASSE to INSIGHT.
To have an insight experience, you must turn off the stage. An overactive prefrontal cortex can be the cause of the roadblock itself. An insight experience is characterized by a lack of logical progression. It’s when “knowing” the solution comes suddenly and is surprising, yet when it comes you have a great deal of confidence in it. Insights involve unconscious processing—when you are putting in no conscious effort to solve the problem (e.g. shower, gym, driving).
To increase your creativity, let your subconscious brain solve the problem.
In Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young describes a five-step method for producing ideas:
- The mind must gather its raw materials
- The mind goes through a process of masticating those materials
- You drop the whole subject and put the problem out of your mind as completely as you can
- Out of nowhere, the idea will appear
- Take your little newborn idea out into the world of reality and see how it fares
You must shut off the conscious, linear part of the brain-prefrontal cortex (which controls conscious mental processes).