Ideas make you think, and not just about what you happen to be working on.
Creative people consume good content. I’ve seen and heard this from so many places.
Great ideas are like horses kicking up dust, and when you inhale that dust it makes you think about all sorts of things.
You might be working on something at work, or trying to write an essay. Or whatever. And maybe the subject you’re working on is Artificial Intelligence.
But you just got done reading a brilliant piece about Art History, or a piece about poverty’s effect on productivity. Or maybe you read a biography of a famous author and philosopher.
At any point in that reading you might suddenly be struck with a completely different way of attacking your current problem.
This is because your subconscious doesn’t stop working on your task. It keeps crunching even while you’re reading something else. And what it does is uses what you’re reading to assemble new weapons.
So you’re reading a piece about Evolutionary Psychology and suddenly realize it’ll help you better understand some algorithm you’re writing.
But you can’t have epiphanies if you don’t have two things:
Questions in your mind
New, high-quality input that subconsciously stimulates those questions
The more you read, and the wider the topics, and the higher the quality of ideas, the better you will become at anything you’re doing.
Everyone I know who doesn’t have any ideas, also doesn’t read anything of any quality.
And everyone I know who produces things, is also a reader.
I’m sure there are exceptions, but that’s why they’re called exceptions.
If you care about creativity, be a reader. Take it seriously. It’s not diversion. It’s raw material for the project of creation.