The Trick to Effortlessly Creating ‘Light-Bulb Moments’

How to harness your brainpower and feel consistently creative.


Max Phillips

2 years ago | 3 min read


The light bulb magically appears over your head. Ding, your brain finally works! But, unfortunately, those moments feel few and far between.

When I sit down and think about headline ideas after a long day of writing, there’s barely any creative electricity left in my head. It’s a waste of time.

Frustration builds, making the issue more challenging than before. It seems that when you think about something too hard in search of a breakthrough, your brain rejects any fresh thoughts.

However, there’s a secret amongst the creative community: light bulb moments aren’t mere gasps of brilliance. No. They’re a result of proper relaxation and subsequent focus. You need a system in place.

Properly switch off

I recently lacked creativity, so a friend alerted me to a helpful quote from writer 

Trudy Horsting:

“Stop doing as much — but ease into it.”

Of course, taking a break usually means no work. However, going from full-blown work to nothing has unexpected consequences.

It isn’t easy to turn your mind off like that. Without meaning to, you might start thinking about work — tinkering with your project in your head. This makes it more challenging to restore the focus you need to make a breakthrough.

So, in the days leading up to a break, gradually ease off. Finish big projects in advance and don’t do anything significant before stopping. So, when you’re on break, you won’t do any work consciously or subconsciously.

Create a discussion-rich environment

To create a mindset where light-bulb moments occur more regularly, your brain needs new ideas and experiences. You don’t need to climb a mountain or fight a local wrestling champion in Mali, as Matthew McConaughey did.

All you need is a few willing friends and perhaps a beer or two.

I recently got back from a trip to Ibiza, where my friends and I spent hours sat around a swimming pool, drinking beer and discussing all manner of things. It wasn’t fluff, nor was it controversial. Just topics you can get stuck into. One friend asked, “what is the worst sequel of all time?” That left us scratching our heads. I could talk about films for hours (and we did).

These types of discussions plant the seed for the food your brain will soon feed on.

Above all, break routine

I’ve heard plenty of people say spontaneous plans are often the best, and it’s hard to disagree. There’s no room for expectation, so you can’t be disappointed. But spontaneity isn’t vital. After all, you could have a terrible spontaneous experience.

The key is the break from routine.

A light bulb moment, in essence, is a break from routine. Your brain latches on to the new path of thinking — it’s surprised itself.

To generate these moments, you need a break from routine to begin with.

It doesn’t need to be a trip to Ibiza. It could be a different walking route or going to the cinema alone for the first time. Breaking a routine opens up new pathways in your brain, which you can then explore.

Devise the ultimate brainstorming session

So you’ve wound down your workload, taken a break, and now it’s time to get back to work. But where’s that pesky light bulb, and why hasn’t it dinged yet? Well, while it may happen randomly at times, it usually doesn’t.

You’ve got to sit down and think.

The day after I came back from Ibiza, I sat in my sunny garden and opened my journal. I wrote down my goals and where I felt they were headed. Then, I went to create some new headlines.


I raced through all the conversations, encounters, and thoughts I had during my break. Then, the floodgates opened, and I created all sorts of ideas, much of which I am publishing soon.

All it took was a debrief.

Too often, we go out, experience things, and then confine them to the lost wilderness of our memory. Yet, our memories are more valuable than most people realize, and when we explore them, they could be incredibly useful.

Light bulb moments are the result of a system

You’ve likely seen hundreds of ‘overnight success stories’ on social media. But there’s no such thing.

This isn’t too dissimilar.

Moments of breakthrough feel like you’ve lifted the weight of the world off your shoulders. Your brain has finally found a light to make its way through the dark.

But if you want to pave your way through your life, breakthroughs should become a common occurrence. That requires a stable system of unloading, rest, and reflection. Nothing revolutionary.

Soon enough, you won’t be saying “A-ha!” Instead, it’ll become the norm.


Created by

Max Phillips







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