This article has a few great topics for us. I think the primary message is the first one. One of the best ways to be creative is to be open to all kinds of ideas and experiences (the Openness to Experience trait of the Five Factor model) and to frequently expose yourself to new and novel ones. It is possible to do this by following a diverse group of thought leaders who post intelligent content. Of course, it is also possible for social media to put you into a filter bubble and dive down into the depths of narrow-minded ignorance. So choose wisely.
So we’ve got an idea of where writer’s block is happening – but what can you do to fight against it? There’s no pill you can take to make it go away, but there are some simple things that you can try to loosen up your frontal lobe, all recommended by Dr. Huston in 1998:
Read someone else’s writing. Studies have shown that people are more creative when they’re exposed to the creative ideas of others. Just make sure you’re only inspired by their writing and not copying from it.
The author of this article, Maya Sapiurka, makes it a point to follow her favorite authors who share their creative processes as they go through it, including how they experience and deal with writer’s block. It helps her when she has to deal with it herself.
I see three major challenges of using social media for our creative exposure.
- We can be shortsighted when deciding who to follow. The temptation to follow people based on fun, self-satisfaction, or other reasons that might be counterproductive for creative exploration.
- When posting, the people we follow are naturally (both consciously and unconsciously) self-selective in what they share. An old finding is that we overshare the positive and undershare the negative – misleading our followers that are lives are better than they really are.
- Our ability to understand the true meaning behind what these thought leaders are posting is limited by the typically short length, short time we spend skimming, and our preconceived ideas about what it will mean.
The second message comes from some neuroscientific findings on creativity and brainstorming. Both strongly leverage the frontal lobe, particularly the language areas. But there is a striking difference. Brainstorming had a stronger link to areas associated with semantic processing such as planning and control. Creative writing had a stronger link to areas associated with episodic memory.
OK, OK, I have acknowledged many times before that the links between neuroscience and tangible applications in human factors. But this finding is a great source of hypotheses. Why could brainstorming be more semantic and creative writing be more episodic?
I have some ideas, but I would rather hear yours first. Please share.
Image Credit: fancycrave1