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11.2.1. Creative Tension: Incubation


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 11. Stimulating Ideas > 11.2. Creating Tension > 11.2.1. Creative Tension: Incubation

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Graham Wallas, in his 1926 book ‘The Art of Thought’ described four stages in creativity: preparation, incubation, illumination (the ‘Eureka’ or ‘aha’ experience) and verification. The incubation stage is singularly unexciting in execution. All you basically do is to immerse yourself in the problem and then forget about it, allowing the subconscious to go to work on the problem, in its own time and in its own way.

The great German author, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe explains it well:

“The worst is that the very hardest thinking will not bring thoughts. They must come like good children of God and cry, ‘Here we are.’ You expend effort and energy thinking hard. Then, after you have given up, they come sauntering in with their hands in their pockets. If the effort had not been made to open the door, however, who knows when they could have come.”

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