Incubation part 3: Why we (should) sleep on it

Why should we sleep on it? This post discusses incubation, sleep, and dream theory! My own experience, words from a sleep psychologist, and a wacky experiment examining the creative process.

"sleep and dreams and creativity" by Rachel Olsen:

“sleep and dreams and creativity” by Rachel Olsen:

My own experience:

So you remember how I was working on a novel and I just couldn’t finish it? Right, right, that was months ago. Well, I finally had a breakthrough!

I originally envisioned this novel in three parts, but currently only two parts of it work well. So I was thinking that parts one and two combined work as a standalone novel, with some revision.

But the problem that was to be solved was, at the end of part two, the heroine and her lover part on opposite sides of an intergalactic war. As enemies. So sad! And since I’m the kind of person who doesn’t deal well with sad endings (open that box of worms another day), this ending had to be fixed!

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Incubation: Creativity never sleeps… or does it?

Everyone has their own method.

Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes”

Last year I did a subject that asked us as creators to answer two questions: “Why do we create?” and “How do we create?”   You have to love Creative Industries assessments.

Mocking aside, however, these two questions are vital to understand if you intend to be creative successfully, or be creative for a living… or both.

The reflective waffle which was our first assessment piece answered the first question, and I’ll post that shortly.   Literally.   The short answer after much research and navel-gazing amounts, almost universally, to: “We create because it’s fun.”   Bronowski says that humans do not choose to create unless they enjoy the process (1985, p 245).

However, the second question led into hours of delightful research, culminating in a research essay.   My task was to argue that, although there are differences between the disciplines of art, design, and media, these differences do not affect the fundamental process of creativity, and that this creates links between these disciplines.

What follows is my summary of the parts of my research related to one part of the traditional creative process: the incubation stage.   The full text of the research essay is available on my Full text research essays page.

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