By studying discrete pieces of information thoroughly and practicing their application repetitively, they eventually shed their technical, nitty-gritty character. This happens because the process of digesting small chunks of knowledge over and over again shifts it from the conscious mind to the unconscious mind where it can connect with other chunks of internalized knowledge and manifest as the sudden burst of insight we experience as free-flowing intuition. This high level of knowledge integration is what we should aim for—it allows us to access what we have committed to learning in a fluid, precise, and improvisational manner.
In Josh’s Words
It is important to understand that by numbers to leave numbers, or form to leave form I am describing a process in which technical information is integrated into what feels like natural intelligence. Sometimes there will literally be numbers. Other times there will be principles, patterns, variations, techniques, ideas.
My numbers to leave numbers approach to chess study was my way of having a working relationship with the unconscious parts of my mind. I would take in vast amounts of technical information that my brain somehow put together into bursts of insight that felt more like music or wind than mathematical combinations. Increasingly, I had the sense that the key to these leaps was interconnectedness – some part of my being was harmonizing all my relevant knowledge, making it gel into one potent eruption, and suddenly the enigmatic was crystal-clear. p. 136
When I think about creativity, it is always in relation to a foundation. We have our knowledge. It becomes deeply internalized until we can access it without thinking about it. Then we have a leap that uses what we know to go one or two steps further. We make a discovery. Most people stop here and hope that they will become inspired and reach that state of “divine insight” again. In my mind, this is a missed opportunity. p. 231
Further reading: Chapter 7: Changing Voice, Chapter 11: Making Smaller Circles
From THE ART OF LEARNING by Josh Waitzkin. Copyright © 2007 by Josh Waitzkin LLC.
Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc