This is an except from Mind Macros 04.
“'Creativity requires going slowly, pausing, even procrastinating. That allows ideas to marinate,’ Leonardo explained. Intuition needs nurturing. ‘Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work least,’ he told the duke, ‘for their minds are occupied with their ideas and the perfection of their conceptions, to which they afterwards give form.’”— From Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.
Creativity is an unconscious activity that takes place when we direct our attention elsewhere. But some conscious thought is necessary for the ideation process to take place. We need to be exploring, collecting data, pursuing our curiosity, and then following these activities with a period of rest. At this stage, the unconscious mind takes over and begins working.
Because of incubation, connections form in the unconscious. Incubation is the process of letting ideas, knowledge, and thoughts marinate. Our unconscious mind explores options during this time, like a computer program running in the background. When a piece of information connects with another, we have an idea that's transferred into our consciousness. The result is often a moment of insight or sudden clarity when in reality, our mind has been continuously working on this problem in the background.