I told one of my bosses once, "I do my best thinking when I'm not thinking." Being a left-brained kind of guy, he looked at me cross-eyed. I'd worked for him for a few years, so he knew I was good at what I did, and he didn't press further.
Or sometimes it's just because you're too tired to concentrate fully, and some other part of you just keeps on going. I've got some of my best ideas this way. The many hidden FUNs in Julie's quilt came about because I was looking at the quilt on the design wall WAY PAST MY BEDTIME and ideas were bouncing around unobstructed in my brain.
It was a long day at work yesterday. The big fancy new storage device (many many many "green papers" worth) arrived and was installed. I stayed after hours while that was done, and after doing two errands, didn't get home until almost 8:00 PM. I watched Father Brown while I ate my dinner and then did the dishes, and a load of laundry before I floated into the studio about 9:45 PM.
I started arranging the light blue triangles, but then I decided to add the leftover triangles from the other quilts. I did two or three arrangements that left me bored. I had alternating vertical rows of diamonts, blue, colored, blue... and it was just dull. So I started moving the colored ones horizontally. But that didn't do anything to connect visually to the blue ones. So I decided to break the design even more. I find that if what I am working on isn't working, breaking it worse often triggers other things I might not otherwise have thought of, and very often produces good ideas.
Then something kind of interesting started to happen, so I took a photo (above.) The idea isn't complete, but it has potential and I want to play with it some more.
And break it again.