My poetry students are at their most creative when, having exhausted their intellect, they are forced to tap into something deeper.
This has been the case in my career as a creative as well.
For years I’ve struggled to explain this aspect of creativity, how it often arises not from thin air but from when the intellect has carried an idea as far as it can.
In recently reading the 1980s classic from Stanford University titled Creativity in Business, I came across a fascinating insight from psychologist Helen Palmer that enhanced my clarity on this:
“Usually you come to the edge of your intellectual conclusions. Then you have to presuppose, you have to use some function that is already contained within you. You don’t go blank, and you don’t go to sleep at the wheel. But you have to inspect the particular piece of goods, the decision that has to be made, with some part of the self that is not ‘thought.’ And at that moment an inspiration of how to proceed, a direction that might cut corners, a new way to solve the problem, is possible.”