When I draw or when I painted - which, sadly, I haven't in years - there's a way my brain has to shift the way it processes my vision. I'm floundering, but this is the best I can explain it. Normally, you don't really concentrate on seeing, you know? You just see. Same as breathing. But when you're trying to replicate what you're looking at, you don't see in the normal way. Things lose the dimensionality and the shape you know they have and just become angles. They lose the colors you know they have and just become tones and shades. You ignore what you know things actually to be, to focus on every element of them. Things stop looking like what they really are.
I'm not sure that explanation works, but it's the best I can do.
I guess the same shifts happen with words, too - when you're simultaneously looking at something for the narrative or the grammar or the flow or the arrangement on the page. But that's more fluid for me. And I guess it happens physically, too - when you start being aware of your breath or your movement. It probably happens if you're a musician. Or if you meditate a lot.
But my point is that clunk in your brain, that moment when it comes out of gear and the process goes from automatic, to something deliberate that you're making yourself conscious of. It must be that way all the time for people who are stunningly, startlingly creative. They must be permanently off autopilot. What a brilliantly beautiful - but utterly daunting - life to consider.
So what's my example (since I've decided to start looking at examples)? The most free-rangingly creative person I can think of is Ze Frank. I haven't gotten into most of his stunts or projects, not the way some of my friends have. But his latest is Color Wars. Google Ze Frank, Twitter and color wars if you're curious. Basically... he found a new medium, and where some people (i.e., me) would hang back and poke around till you figure out how everyone else plays - he lobbed a water balloon into the middle to see what would happen. And if it's anything like The Show, it'll be a community-building, difficult-to-describe collection of creativity just for the joy of creativity.
He seems to be one of those people who wake up every day out of gear, looking at everything slightly unfocused so he can notice at what everyone else is missing.