When was the last time you learned something and were able to integrate that learning so directly that you saw immediate results? As an adult, this special gift is not given to me as frequently as I'd like; how about you? I do recall having this experience fairly regularly, and being able to clearly identify the link, when I was in Graduate School; that's part of the magic of being in school as an adult.
A short time ago I read "Finishing the Hat", a 2010 memoir by Stephen Sondheim covering 1954-1981, his first 25 years as a well known lyricist. In addition to copies of lyrics from his shows during those years, Sondheim also describes his process and some guidelines he tries to follow. If you're interested in this stuff, it's really fascinating AND instructive; I took a lot of notes.
Not long after, a good friend of mine lost a good friend of hers, someone I'd met just once. My friend wrote a brief e-mail to several people, including me, about her friend's life and spirit. That e-mail moved me a great deal. Soon after, I heard a melody in my head. With Sondheim's' guidelines whispering in my ear, I then wrote a lyric that is among the best I've ever written. I have no doubt reading Sondheim's book and my immediate improvement as a lyricist are linked.
Please share with me a time you've been certain your learning has given you this special gift.