We are the bakers, not the makers, of ideas

The way you make a cake is by collecting a bunch of ingredients, mixing them together in the right order, then putting it all into an oven to bake.

The process of creativity is a lot like baking a cake, in that it entails the gathering of ingredients—or knowledge—then mixing it up and allowing it to “bake” in your subconscious.

But how often do we think of creativity as something we do as opposed to a process we merely facilitate? The nuances of consciousness and anything beneath it aside, creativity is very much something which takes place outside of our full control. If we could generate novel and useful ideas at any moment, on a whim, there’d be nothing about creativity worth researching or writing about.

Of course creativity doesn’t work on-demand. It isn’t something we can readily rely on, let alone elicit as needed. Instead, it’s a process which we contribute to—or don't—and with which we experience the results as though they had come from a part of ourselves we have little to no awareness of.

We don’t “make” or “generate” ideas any more than we cook a cake. The oven is the thing doing all the work, we’re merely the ones who put the ingredients into it. Our subconscious is an oven, it’s our job to put the right stuff into it and then give it time to bake.

If you want to be exposed to new ideas, there are certainly things you can do to provoke them out of our brain. But the process is no different than baking: you have to first have all the ingredients, then mix them together, followed by giving them time to “bake.” You can adjust the temperature and try replacing ingredients, but the result always requires the time and diligence to bake.

We don’t pull ideas out of nowhere. To “have” an idea is to hold it, not to pull it from the void. In a way, we only ever discover ideas, not create them. We’re the bakers of ideas.