“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Researchers from Bar-Ilan University studied the effects of external stimulus via low-level electricity. They observed that external stimuli can affect our tendency to daydream or mind-wander, as they called it. They were surprised to learn that daydreaming can improve task performance.
It seems that a mental escape from boring tasks can put you on the right track again. While the researchers concentrated on the physiological implications, the findings suggest that using productivity techniques like the Pomodoro can help you focus.
Your daydreaming engages the larger neural network of your brain. This effect could in turn affect creativity, and hence, task performance. It’s not unlike the difference between focused thought and diffuse thinking.
When you work on a task, you may use a specific part of your brain to get the job done. When you leave it and do something that encourages mind-wandering, you can tap into other neural networks that may help you complete the task at hand. The findings from the Bar-Ilan University study provide the neurological basis for what is occurring in your brain.
Another thing to bear in mind is that daydreaming isn’t a bad thing. Your mind needs downtime to operate at peak efficiency. You probably know about some people who routinely work through their lunch hour. They rarely, if ever, take breaks. They say that they have to keep working to get a project done.
This mindset falls under the same category as multi-tasking. It doesn’t work like they think it does. Sure, they’ll finish the project, but it could have been easier. They may have tapped into some new ideas had they taken time for some mind-wandering.
That’s what makes this study so exciting. There is a better way to do things. And it applies to writing too.
Like any skill, writing has much to teach you. It isn’t just a matter of picking up a pen or turning on the laptop. There are many lessons to learn on the job. You may not always appreciate the lessons learned. There will come a time when you thank yourself for paying attention.
It might not go as smoothly as you’d like at first. That’s okay. The Muse is a good teacher. Here are a few of her valuable lessons that I have learned on the way.
- Use Microsoft Word for writing your manuscript. I love Libre Office, but headers and footers are a major pain. Word makes it ridiculously easy. Save yourself the headache. Pony up and subscribe to the software.
- One and only one copy of your work draft. Date the others if you want the older versions.
- Save a copy before messing around with headers and footers.
- Read the guidelines for publication first, especially before you start working with your images.
- If you’re going to do your own cover, do some research to see what makes a good one.
- Don’t worry about font choice when writing books for Kindle. Amazon has readability covered.
- Preview in every format possible: Kindle Preview, Calibre, your own phone/tablet, including the proof copy of your written book.
- Don’t be afraid to update an e-book or CreateSpace file. That’s the advantage you have when you self-publish.
- Keep your draft on your local drive and copy the file to Dropbox for safe keeping. A wonky Internet connection shouldn’t keep you from writing.
- Keep one notebook to record musings and ideas. Find something you like and use it. And keep it with you always.
- Don’t rely on your memory for writing ideas. Get it down on paper or on a digital platform.
- Don’t forget that completing a book is one of life’s great pleasures and accomplishments. Give yourself credit for making and sticking to the commitment.
Are you ever plagued by bad thoughts? Maybe you feel guilty about the fib you told to get out of going out after work. Or maybe you weren’t totally honest with your spouse about when your meeting really ended. Bad thoughts, it appears, have a good reason.
The Evolutionary Value of Bad Thoughts
Researchers from San Francisco State University studied the role of the outside environment on thoughts. They found that unintentional thoughts come unabated when participants were shown images of common objects.
Despite being told not to subvocalize (speak in the mind) about the objects they saw, they couldn’t help themselves. You can try this yourself. Take a walk outside and look around. You’ve identified the objects around you and have subvocalized what they were almost instantaneously.
There is an adaptive advantage to this act. Sometimes, you don’t have time to consider. Instant identification helps you act in an uncertain environment. But what about unwanted bad thoughts?
Thoughts and Behavior
There may be times you don’t want to think about some things. You don’t want to remember what an ass you were the last time you lost your temper at work. You feel guilty about it—and you can’t get it out of your head.
Ezequiel Morsella, associate professor of psychology and co-author of the study, explains that there is a reason for this. Your guilt is your brain’s way of changing future behavior. You learn from your mistakes and hopefully avoid another guilt trip.
In this sense, it is an adaptive mechanism. Getting along with your co-workers is the better course of action rather than being known as a hothead. It helps improve your work situation, and if we take this further, your job security and financial security.
Bad Thoughts in Your Writing
This information can be useful in your writing. Guilt is a powerful emotion. Understanding the motivation behind it can help you understand your characters better and lend some realism to your villains.
Unless he is completely evil, you have an angle on nuances of his behavior in light of his guilt. It can open up new scenes and confrontations from the guilt perpetuated by his unintentional bad thoughts. That can morph into anger and more interest in your work. It’s an intriguing insight into human behavior.
If you were wondering how to increase learning capacity, a study by Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology has an answer for you. Lecturer, Olle Bälter, found that by taking the classroom outdoors and walking increased students level of engagement in course studies.
Walking Offers Benefits
Bälter reported that students participated more when active during classes than sitting in a classroom. Walking, it seems, lifted the stigma of discussions, allowing students to speak more freely.
The active time also provided physical benefits which sedentary activities could not. Perhaps the feelings of freedom and engagement boosted endorphin levels a bit too, adding to the positive experience.
Behind the Experience
One might also look to the role reversal that walking as a group offers versus the traditional classroom setting. A lecturer speaking in the front of a group of students may intimidate some. When walking, a student didn’t have to fear being in front of the class and perhaps answering a question wrong.
Or it could be that walking is an enjoyable activity. It may harken back to pleasant grade school memories of field trips. It isn’t threatening, but rather passive. By removing such obstacles, students may have felt more free to express themselves.
Lessons for Writers
This study offers good ideas for writers looking to boost their creativity. The computer and desk may create the same experience as the classroom. By breaking away from this experience, a writer may find it easier to hear the Muse.
Great writers of the past, such as Wordsworth and Thoreau, knew the benefits of walking. It sparked creativity and new ideas. It generated many poems, essays, and other works that have stood the test of time.
The KTH The Royal Institute of Technology study reminds us that breaking from the usual routine has its benefits. For the student or writer, they can offer something that is priceless.
http://mystery.weborglodge.com/By Chris DR