How to Generate More Ideas Off-Line; Mozart’s Creative Process

When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer – say traveling in a carriage,

or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep;

it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.

Whence and how they come, I know not; nor can I force them.

Those ideas that please me I retain in memory, and am accustomed, as I have been told,

to hum them to myself.


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Posthumous Portrait of Mozart by Kraft 1819

All this fires my soul, and provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself,

becomes methodized and defined,

and the whole, though it be long, stands almost completed and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it,

like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance.

Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at once.

What a delight this is I cannot tell! All this inventing, this producing takes place in a pleasing lively dream.

Still the actual hearing of the tout ensemble is after all the best.

What has been thus produced I do not easily forget, and this is perhaps

the best gift I have my Divine Maker to thank for.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Mozart is talking about going off-line; disconnecting from the pressure of producing his next piece.

When we are off-line, creative flow is more possible. We allow more opportunities to synthesize.

Being off-line may include dreaming, taking a walk, going to a museum or gallery;

a myriad of activities we may do alone.

Sometimes when the weather is bad, I may take walks through the bookstores

where there are tens of thousands of visual stimuli.

We incubate when we allow ideas to develop at their own pace.

it is like sleeping on an idea.

The best ideas come to me when I am in that moment of somnolence just before I fall asleep.

I keep a pad by the side of my bed. I write my ideas down less I forget them.