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
- Mowing the lawn
- Sorting the recycling
- Waiting in the doctor’s office
- 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!