Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Inspiration: Where do Ideas Come From?
Yesterday, as I was stepping out of the shower I had an epiphany about my current WIP. I knew how the beginning and the end had to go, but there was a lot of murkiness in the middle. Just as I was towelling off it hit me. The perfect middle. I hopped into my clothes and jotted down a few notes so I wouldn't forget anything.
I listened to the radio show Spark: Technology and the Wandering Mind on the weekend. In one segment they talked about how human brains spend about 30% of waking hours thinking about things other than the task at hand and how this idle brain activity is where most of our creativity spawns. Like sleep and dreaming it is an essential activity if we want to keep our brains in proper working order. The best time for mind-wandering, they explained, is when you're working at a mundane task which doesn't occupy your full attention.
On the show, they discussed how many people are crushing that creative thinking-time by constantly plugging themselves in to their wireless devices. It's most noticeable in children, the scientist explained, because they have such active imaginations, but the 50% of American kids who are exposed daily to handheld computers of one kind or another (leap-pad, iPhone, whatever) show demonstrably less creativity than those with less exposure.
Which, combined with the shower got me to thinking. All of my best ideas have come to me while I was away from the computer, but whenever I'm sitting at my desk and struggling to come up with story ideas I tend to just sit here. I blog, visit writer's forums and such, but as long as my mind is occupied there's no room for that perfect solution to filter through to the surface.
I will try an experiment over the next few weeks. I will spend more time away from the computer to give myself time to think. I'll see if I get more writing done, or less.
In the meantime, I'm just glad I don't have a smart-phone and I'm not addicted to Facebook.