An interesting excerpt from the book ‘Imagine – How Creativity Works’ by Jonah Lehrer (from chapter 5).
… Our thoughts are shackled by the familiar. The brain is a neural tangle of near-infinite possibility, which means that it spends a lot of time and energy choosing what not to notice. As a result, creativity is traded for efficiency; people think in literal prose, not symbolist poetry. It’s not until we feel distant from the problems – far from our usual haunts – that the chains of cognition are loosened, and the insight becomes obvious.
The author points to research which indicates that increased creativity appears to be a side effect of experiencing different environments over time, even for a short while. When we escape from the place we spend the most time, the mind is suddenly made aware of all those errant ideas previously suppressed.