So . . . you’re more than two-thirds done with NaNoWriMo, and maybe you’re starting to crumple a bit. Your dialog sounds forced, your action scenes are flat, and your plot twists have all turned to spaghetti. What can you do to break out of this slump?
Here’s my tip for the day: change your brain!
“Um, what now?” you may ask. Allow me to explain . . .
This tip was inspired by a recent article in the journal Brain and Cognition, about how traffic levels between the two hemispheres of your brain affects thinking. Researchers found that any activity that promoted neural cross-talk in test subjects also promoted creativity.
In other words, if you can get the two halves of your brain talking, you’ll be more likely to find inspiration. And it’s easier than you think.
(A quick note before I go on: most of the right-brain, left-brain stuff people repeat is total rubbish. There isn’t a “creative lobe” on one side of your head and an “analytical lobe” on the other. Both sides of your brain perform both analytic and creative tasks. The key here is to make them talk to each other.)
In this study, the subjects moved their eyes back and forth along a horizontal axis, like when you’re watching a tennis match. (Or a really boring game of Pong.) After thirty seconds of eye exercise, the subjects gained about ten minutes’ worth of improved scores on various creativity tests.
So if you need a quick hit of creativity, try looking from right to left for thirty seconds and see what happens.
Of course, you can’t move your eyes back and forth every ten minutes of your writing day. That would be dizzying and tedious. So how do you keep your creativity levels high for, say, all of November?
Luckily, there’s evidence that you can improve cross-talk levels (and thus creativity) on a permanent basis, simply by pretending that you’re left handed.
Here’s the thing: left-handed and ambidextrous subjects had no benefit from the eye movements in this study. In fact, in some studies lefties and ambies seem to get stupider after cross-talk exercises. Many scientists think that’s because lefties and ambies already operate at an optimal level of cross-talk, generated by the fact that the world is designed for right-handed people.
That’s right, all those rightie-baised scissors make lefties more creative.
Or to say it another way, being challenged by the world wires your brain for creativity!
So here’s my exercise for you today: Pretend you’re left handed. Open doors, eat, and mouse with your left hand for a day or so. You’ll be promoting cross-talk in your brain, and rewiring yourself for creativity. It may feel weird, but it should give your creative juices a boost.
And for those of you who are already left-handed or ambidextrous? Hey, you don’t need my help. You’re already creative geniuses! (Or rather, you’re already operating at optimal cross-talk levels, so you’ll have to find some other trick to make yourself smarter. Sorry!)
That’s it for today! Don’t forget to check out Justine’s posts on the even-numbered days of November. See you on the 25th.