I love the play between the conscious and unconscious minds in the creative moment
I’ve been slowly becoming more aware of how useful it can be to give the subconscious tasks to work on.
Over Christmas a relative described doing crossword puzzles in the evening, going to sleep, waking up the next morning and without any effort being able to solve a bunch of the challenging puzzles which were unsolvable the night before.
A week or so later I was listening to an interview with Chess Master Josh Waitzkin (read an interview with him here) who described something similar, he would give his subconscious questions to work on at the end of his working day and first thing the next morning he would spend half an hour writing. He also explained that he wouldn’t ask the question just before going to sleep because he found that he started consciously thinking about it, which obviously defeats the point.
So I started to experiment, at the end of the working day i wrote down a question at the top of a blank piece of paper, I kept it very specific in relation to a tricky problem I was trying to solve. I wrote:
“What is the best way to make a jig for cutting curved angles on a curved board?”
The next morning, when I went back to workshop, I found my self simply making the desired jig (photographed above). What was interesting was that I was making it with noticeably greater attention to detail than I would normally make a jig like this and the solutions that I came up with were not ones that I’d consciously thought about before.
The other thing I noticed was that I was more present with my family in the evening. Somehow just trusting that my subconscious was dealing with problem meant that I could be more relaxed during my time off.