Unconscious thought (for the writers among us)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

While waiting for the dentist, a different issue of Newsweek on my lap, I encounter something that I have long known to be true for me (but hey, I just thought I was weird).  I walk away from the computer to dream or write.  I check no emails, don't carry my phone.  I seek, and nurture, a deliberate fogginess, retreating to a far somewhere before I allow myself to think about the story or sentence at hand.  Some people think I am sleeping.  I understand that I'm not.  I can't write unless I enter this fog state first.  It's the most peaceful—and productive—place that I go.

But don't take it from me.  This from a Sharon Begley story titled "I Can't Think," in the March 7 issue of Newsweek:
Creative decisions are more likely to bubble up from a brain that applies unconscious thought to a problem, rather than going at it in a full-frontal analytical assault.  So while we're likely to think creative thoughts in the shower, it's much harder if we're under a virtual deluge of data.  "If you let things come at you all the time, you can't use additional information to make a creative leap or a wise judgment," says [Joanne] Cantor (author of Conquer Cyber Overload).  "You need to pull back from the constant influx and take a break."  That allows the brain to subconsciously integrate new information with existing knowledge and thereby make novel connections and see hidden patterns....

5 comments:

Caroline Starr Rose said...

This is why walking the dog is such a great way to be creative!

Melissa Sarno said...

I like this idea of a fog state :-) I've worked out entire plot lines in the shower.

Ann Hite said...

This explains why solutions often surface just as I begin to fall into a deep sleep. The knowing that comes seems magical. Of course I then wake up and write down what I found. Also, my daily walk is taken with index cards and a pen in my pocket. My neighbors know it just the writer on the other side of the subdivision. ;)

Lilian Nattel said...

Yes--sometimes when I'm stuck, I just have to do nothing and then in the empty space the solution appears.

KFP said...

That's so funny: I just wrote a chapter in the book I am writing called: "Take a Drive/Take a Shower
Time and Spaces to Dream." Thanks for this, and I'm also happy to see the comments as it confirms what I am saying.

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