Ever wanted to be more creative? Feeling like you just can’t come up with any good ideas? Stuck on ways to throw a curveball in your plot?
How about a jolt to the old brainwaves? Just strap on this helmet, and press that button, and your brainwaves can be remotely controlled to block out the common, dull, familiar associations. You’ll be thinking outside the box! And it takes no effort on your part! Writer’s block is a thing of the past!!
Higher levels of alpha brainwaves enable people to come up with ideas which are further away from the obvious or well-known uses.
The researchers show that stimulating the right temporal part of the brain in the alpha frequency increases the capability of inhibiting obvious links in both types of creative thinking.
This was demonstrated by applying an electrical current to the brain through a non-invasive technique called transcranial alternating current brain stimulation (tACS) which causes minimal to no side effects or sensations.
The researchers hope to understand how neural processes are integrated when solving creative problems out of the laboratory settings and whether it is possible to build stimulation devices which can monitor the brain and stimulate creativity whenever needed. Read more here…
Silly marketing copy style sensationalism aside, it’s an interesting study. I don’t think that you can simply stimulate the brain into magically producing wild creativity. There is a lot more to writing than that at least, without even touching the other creative fields. Writers are fueled by more than caffeine and cat photos. Writers need to think of it as making sausage. I’ve made sausage, and it’s delicious in the end. In the middle? Not so much. Which is where creativity comes in. You might start with a whole, but in the processing of grinding it up and transforming it from the disparate ingredients of meat, spices, salt, and fat, it’s pretty gross. Writing before editing can look a lot like that middle section of sausage.
So while we might indeed be able to stimulate brainwaves, and it would be interesting to see what came out, if you don’t start with good ingredients, by the time it’s sizzling in the pan the smell wafting toward you might be… dissonant. Writers have to figure out what the good ingredients for their particular book need to be as they go. Sure, throwing out all the familiar associations sounds good. You’ll come up with a novel novel.
How often have you read and enjoyed an ‘experimental’ novel? For that matter, experimental art? Like, say, Andy Warhol’s piss paintings? Which are fascinating chemistry (click through the link for more detail than you really want, and a twisted sense of humor) but arguable from an artistic standpoint. Look, if I’m going to strap on a helmet for some therapeutic shocks to my creative brain, I’d like to at least get paid for what I produce afterward. And while Warhol made good money, a lot of his, er, piss-alikes never made it to the level of urinal art.
Sometimes familiar associations are a good thing, even essential. Without them, the reader can feel lost and confused in an alien landscape, needing some sort of touchstone to cling to while trying to make sense of what they just stumbled into. Drug-fueled hazy dreams are rarely fun reads that leave the majority of readers willing to re-enter the writer’s creation willingly. Using familiar to set the scene, to populate a world with relatable characters, be they likeable or not, that’s an important part of a writer’s toolbox. Being creative is overrated. I definitely don’t recommend pissing on your manuscript. That’s likely to leave you in bad odor with all but the most avant-garde of editors and literary agents.
Feeling like you want to stimulate your brain, but not necessarily with that scary-looking helmet? There’s other ways to do it. Try some exercise – tai chi and yoga, both slower exercise methods which focus on breath control, elevate alpha brain waves. Select some music you enjoy, and tap into those elevated waves too. Personally, I find standing at the sink with my hands in dishwater, or driving in light traffic (country roads are nice for this) gets my brain whirring along with no need for a scene out of a horror movie. Unless that’s what lights your fire, of course.
(Header image from Pixabay)