The Creative Brain

Just spent the entire weekend doing creative visuals. I've been researching how the brain works, since mine is getting older and creakier (or should that be crankier?) by the minute. Turns out the spongy-looking critter is pretty much tuned in and turned on to visualization.

You've heard all the buzz about left vs. right brain. Well, turns out, I'm right in the middle, which explains a lot. I took a shrink's test to see how best to structure my writing and editing. In the last decade, in favor of cranking out all the stories swirling around in my brain, I've kind of let my other creative pursuits fall by the wayside, like sewing, quilting, art collage, etc.

After all the research, I'm beginning to see there may be a correlation. If I let each side have a few hours each week, maybe the opposing sides will fire a little better.

You, see, being an obsessive-compulsive creative type is a mixed blessing. You have to create, but at times the objects of creation fight for equal time. When this happens, we sometimes close the office door and go do something odious, like watch a 20-episode marathon of NCIS re-runs. The re-runs are fine - it's the hours of inane commercials that just kill the brain - sort of like spending the afternoon in a smoke-filled bar, listening to "drunk-speak."

Roger Seip, in "Train Your Brain for Success," has a lot of great tips for maximizing noggin power. My personal favorite is working full-bore for somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes (depending on your focus) and then taking a short two-three-minute break - stretch, fix some tea or coffee, walk to the living room, maybe pet the dog and/or cat. He also rates specific goals and a deadline as critical to getting into the zone where you just crank your heart out, and 1,000 words a day are a piece of cake. And then there's the visualization of those goals.

Mike Dooley's ("Leveraging the Universe and Engaging the Magic") recipe for success includes five minutes a day to visualize dreams and goals. And you gotta be specific - don't just conjure a vision of a deserted beach - put yourself there in a chair with an umbrella drink.

And then there's Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art." This is hands down, my favorite book on weathering creative, and self-doubt storms:

"The professional keeps his eye on the doughnut, not the hole. He reminds himself it's better to be in the arena getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot."

And that is it for today - it's up to 5 degrees here in beautiful Breckenridge, CO, and we're still in the "thinking" phase of venturing out for some cross-country skiing - hard-working, heart-pounding, sweat-invoking skiing. Not ride-the-lifts, freeze-your-tuckas-off skiing.