I've experienced both ways to break through problems I was having, e.g. with the character development and how it related to another character in a book-length manuscript, so I 'let it gel' is what I call it.Talking to an ISFJ colleague about our respective approaches to computer programming, I commented that I often make an important breakthrough in my work when I step away from my computer and stop thinking deliberately about it. She said on the other hand that she slept on these problems to solve them.
Hearing this, it occurred to me that perhaps sleeping invokes a process similar to Ni, even for someone who is not an Ni-user. I have long been mystified by claims that Ni is subconscious, but this possibility would explain that. I hypothesize that Ni reflects the standard mode of thought of the subconscious mind, with Ni-users distinguishing themselves from others in being able to access this faculty consciously.
I would wake up, and literally the character in question--the one I thought I understood, would say (words and her way of speaking in my mind), "I wouldn't have left a trust fund for my son. He wouldn't mature if I did, and he wouldn't work out the anger he has toward me after I was gone..." And I would answer the character in my mind, "Oh, that's so obvious, thank you."
I'm an organic writer, so on the occasions when I didn't quit work for the day soon enough and started 'making the characters do such and such,' after sleeping, I'd wake up to 'corrections' from them.
I would also take a walk, and on the walk, the story line, dialogue, conflicts and sometimes resolutions--so much! would come pouring forth, and I'd get home, grab my digital recorder and note as much as possible to work from later.
So, yes, I do think Ni works it's way to the surface--where rank-n-file sensors live and trust what they experience--during walks, during sleep, while swimming... when humans need it, 'if it is not too repressed,' conflicting so much with a long-held belief, especially from early conditioning that the person can't access it or make sense out of it as it is too threatening to a shaky sense of self-identity.
We need Ni; we're hobbled without it.
Some of us are more hobbled than others if it's our go-to for something we're invested in; for me, that's creative writing.
Even my haiku and senryu will contact me this way--not when I 'try' to make it happen; if I do that, it's dead in the water, not worth a damn, forced.
Interesting subject. Thanks for making a thread in which those of us interested in it can contribute.