Burt Bacharach’s Creativity Technique

Burt Bacharach said this in an interview with Spencer Bailey in the New York Times:

When I’m stuck with musicians in the studio and don’t know what’s wrong, I will break and go into a stall in the men’s room. I will sit on the toilet seat. Nobody talks to me there, and I get no advice from any musician. I work it through in my head, and four out of four times, I come out a winner.

I give very similar advice in my book Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. I call this technique “Incubate” and in addition to the toilet seat, here are some common places that people have sudden inspiration (page 114):

  • In the tub
  • On the treadmill
  • Gardening
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Sorting the recycling
  • Waiting in the doctor’s office
  • Shopping
  • Listening to talk show radio
  • Listening to a boring lecture
  • Sitting through a boring meeting
  • Commuting to and from work

I really should have added Burt Bacharach’s technique to the list!

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