Struggling for ideas? Blocked? Uninspired? Then worry no more.

Ideas are strange creatures. You never know when you might come across one. You can sit up all night waiting for it. The cold and the dark have wrapped around you, pulling on your lids and heart. But then it happens – you see it. Its eyes glint at you.

But the minute you get close to it, it scurries under a bush, never to be seen again. I’ve had this happen soooo many times when I’ve been looking for an idea. But what I’ve found is that the best ideas/images come when I’m not looking for them, when I’m totally relaxed, and often, when I’m just about to go to sleep.

So you’re probably thinking: well, this could never work for me. Surely not everyone can be the same when coming up with an idea?

Well, let me prove my case: in November Nature published a study that looked at the brains of rappers who were asked to improvise. In doing so, they shed a light onto the very process of CREATIVITY. The study is fascinating, and I reckon explains why I’m the most creative when I’m NOT stressing looking for an idea.

“Artists showed lower activity in part of their frontal lobes called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during improvisation, and increased activity in another area, called the medial prefrontal cortex. The areas that were found to be ‘deactivated’ are associated with regulating other brain functions.”

In everyday speech:
“We think what we see is a relaxation of ‘executive functions’ to allow more natural de-focused attention and uncensored processes to occur that might be the hallmark of creativity,” says Braun.

They then go on to say this, which reminds me of when JK Rowling’s said that Harry Potter came to her “fully formed”.

“The findings also suggest an explanation for why new music might seem to the artist to be created of its own accord. With less involvement by the lateral prefrontal regions of the brain, the performance could seem to its creator to have “occurred outside of conscious awareness”

The study goes a long way in showing how we achieve an idea, and why we feel the way we do when a good one comes along (like magic). But it doesn’t tell us why. It also doesn’t tell us if some people are likely to be more creative than others. But the saying goes:

Want a good idea? Take a chill pill and stop looking for one.

(Ironic really, because you’ll be looking for an idea by choosing NOT to look for an idea) *brain explodes*


14 thoughts on “Struggling for ideas? Blocked? Uninspired? Then worry no more.

  1. Fascinating. Creativity and science! Now I can tell my husband when he catches me staring blankly out the window, "I'm busy. I'm lowering activity in my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex."

  2. Writing blogs need more things like this – actual research instead of just opinion! Maybe you've found your niche?! Ideas usually come to me when I'm walking somewhere – fresh air and nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other, best inspiration there is!

  3. Hi Jennifer – what a great line to use. Now, I just need to remember it and find a way where I don't say dorsolateral like I'm in slow motion. :)Chloe-my niche maybe a little too niche? 😀 Ah, walking – perfect relaxing tool! Nicole- isn't it great to get proof? Will be great when they find out why. But for now… I'll be going what Jenny says – "if I don't chill out and de-focus by having a lie in, I'll be a failure."

  4. Oh, I love a good study! THere was this guy I worked with during high school who could free style rap all day long–I was like, what the frick! Blew my mind. He's now famous in the Christian rap circuit (who knew, right?!) as KJ-52:-)

  5. This is so interesting and so true, I think. When I'm trying to fall asleep or in the shower, that's when inspiration comes. Course then I don't have paper to write it down… 🙂

  6. Kelley Lynn- Ah that is so true. I use my phone next to my bed, but I might upgrade to a note pad and pen. In the shower, perhaps you can write the idea in the steam? That's a tricky one…

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