I posted my daily blog later than usual yesterday. I usually have them drafted early and scheduled for publishing early each morning. This time I didn’t.

I had a draft and I wasn’t happy with it. There was something I didn’t like about it. It didn’t read well and I wasn’t sure I was going to get my message out the way I wanted to. No matter how I crafted, redrafted and moved words around the page (or in this page iPad screen) I couldn’t get it right.

I was resigned to the fact I was going to miss a day and while I wasn’t necessarily happy I didn’t know what else to do. I certainly wasn’t going to publish in its current format.

Then I slept on it. [1]

The next morning on the train I opened the draft again and there it was. The missing piece of the puzzle leapt into conscious awareness and I had the draft finished in about five minutes. I then set about publishing it to my blog.

I have heard it said Earnest Hemingway would finish writing each day mid sentence or paragraph. He would then come back to his work the next day and continue where he left off.[2] The benefit was his brain would continue to work on the piece of writing overnight outside of conscious awareness.[3]

David Rock in his book Your Brain At Work talks about the power of the non-conscious. He describes the benefits of stepping away from difficult problems, doing something unrelated while the non-conscious part of the brain continues to work ‘in the background’.

So, if you’ve been focused on a problem and don’t feel like you’ve been able to find a solution, consider taking a break. Perhaps the answer will come.

  1. Actually, I cooked dinner, watched two episodes of Game Of Thrones and then went to bed.
  2. There is a fact check opportunity here for anyone who can confirm or deny this please.
  3. I make no claims of being anywhere close to being as good a writer as Hemingway.