Let your brain blink

I'll do my "blinking" in the hammock.

I’ll do my “blinking” in the hammock.

My husband asked me to do nothing for six months. No extra projects. No volunteer work. No extending my help to others at the expense of my own time. I balked at first. Six months of doing nothing? I asked. Yes, he said. That’s boring, I told him, but I compromised, agreeing to take a break for one month. I didn’t even notice when that month turned into two. It turned out that not feeling tense every day about a constantly-replenishing to-do list was pretty nice. But it wasn’t just that. My brain needed to blink.

There was a documentary about creativity on the Science Channel tonight. I turned it on just as a scientist was explaining that the moment of epiphany does not happen in an instant like we think. Before it happens, our brains have a burst of Alpha waves that shuts down visual information. Like your brain blinking. Then the idea has a chance to bubble up. You probably have experienced this: when an idea is coming, the world goes a little fuzzy. At least it does for me. That’s Alpha waves slowing how much information comes in, allowing us to get those good ideas. Just like my husband’s idea about not doing anything for a while allowed many more ideas to come to me.

Of course, I didn’t exactly do NOTHING. I worked on a client’s manuscript, met my agent for dinner after BEA and talked shop, kids, and the joys of dessert, finished the final revisions to my novel, began to research two other books, spoke on two panels and moderated a third at the BooksNJ event last Sunday, and I even finished reading a few books. But for me, it’s as close to nothing as I get. The point is, now I’m itching to start writing again, though I wonder how much more I’d get if I let my brain “blink” for a little while longer.

A few more days on hiatus won’t kill me…

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4 thoughts on “Let your brain blink

  1. debatterman says:

    I love the image/notion of letting the brain blink. Putting aside the flak that Jonah Lehrer got for his book re: Creativity, it validated some of things we know intuitively re: those moments of insight. And now you validate them even more by your period of (relative) inactivity. But when that itch comes, there’s no stopping it. Great post, Tracey.

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