You don’t stop thinking just because you stop thinking. At least, that’s the gist of a lot of the evidence coming out of neuroscience’s endeavor to explain consciousness. Even though we’re not aware of it, our brains keep working on problems, explanations, and creative ideas while “we” are preoccupied with our workaday–playaday lives. And our unconscious brains may be quite a bit brighter than our conscious brains, according to the evidence.
Researchers have found that subjects who really have to pee make better decisions than those who have already been to the bathroom, for example, the hypothesis being that distracted decision-makers make more room for their unconscious to choose for them—and the unconscious chooses wisely.
Eureka moments really do happen when we’re not thinking about the problem. Thus, the value of being a Crockpot.
When tasked with writing a piece, fiction or non, the Crockpot hits the spot between planning and pantsing. The Crockpot does the “research”—whether that means old-fashioned book learning or just exploring the avenues, alleyways, and caverns of one’s own brain for a bit—and then sticks all the good stuff they find into their pot. They let it simmer for a while, a few days maybe, allowing the unconscious mind to work on making those connections, finding those insights, or coming up with that innovation. Maybe they check on the concepts once or twice a day, not to do any work (the pot’s doing that), but to make sure it’s still plugged in and hasn’t stopped bubbling.
The Crockpot trusts their unconscious mind is as valuable as their thoughts. And when the lid comes off, after all that information and all those ideas have had a while to comingle and seep into each other, something new and good usually comes pouring out.