"To gaze is to think." Dali
We gaze at other people's worlds instead of our own -- all of our various screens. We gaze and gaze. But we don't think.
It's the writers job to gaze. It is an exercise of thought as much as observation.
If you don't believe me, perhaps you'll prefer someone by the name of Benoit Mandelbrot who says, "The most important instrument of thought is the eye."
He's likely speaking of observation, but the blank gaze is a good gaze for the writer. The dumbstruck in absentia gaze. The one where you have stopped existing in this world and are in another. Practice it. Cultivate it. Nurture it.
If you're not gazing -- truly gazing -- then you won't find what you need.
"Chance furnishes me with what I need. I'm like a man who stumbles along; my foot strikes something. I bend over and it is exactly what I need." -- James Joyce
The writer has to a. stumble along -- likely gazing absently. b. trip. c. stop -- not just with a backward glance -- but bend over and pick this object up and then fit it into the world of the work, which is what they were thinking about as they were gazing and walking and tripping and bending and gazing again.