Horizon: The Creative Brain: How insight works. It was worth a watch and you can still catch it on iPlayer. It explored the difference between creativity and intelligence and the science behind creativity.
Sometimes it can seem like wondrous magic or fate taking a hand when you strike on inspiration, but more often than not it is simply down to a new connection between existing neural pathways being developed.
How I understood it was the brain is like a big plate of spaghetti with ideas and thoughts and issues all jumbled up. Sometimes you come across a problem and you know instantly how to solve it but other times you need to think differently about it or mull it over for some time. This programme referenced studies that had found doing a mundane task while trying to think of an idea actually stimulated the parts of the brain that generate ideas. So that's why so often I'm washing my hair in the shower and - ding! - there goes the light bulb of an idea. (If that sounds like you too, you might like this post.)
It also explained that if you want to stimulate creativity, you should try doing something new. It can be something like starting a new job, which having just done that I can certainly vouch for it shaking up my thinking, or as simple as making your sandwiches differently. It seems where creativity is concerned, routine is an idea-killer.
What do you do to find new ideas?
Photo by Creative_Tools