Monday, February 22, 2016

Creativity in Motion

During my childhood, we drove to South Dakota at least once a year to visit my grandparents. It was a day-long drive, about four hundred miles from my Colorado home. On one trip in my teenage years, I was laying in the back of the van wishing I was traveling with a group of cool theater kids instead of my family. (Sorry, Mom, Dad and K). That was the inspiration for my first novel-length story (with characters oh-so-realistically named Sun, Earth, Moon, River, Star etc.)

The resurgance of writing in my adult life occurred on the California Zephyr, somewhere in western Colorado. As the train clacked through isolated mountains and sage-brush covered hills,  I felt the urge to move to this rural setting. Imagining how the actual experience would shock me out of my idealism, I started typing a story of a young, urban couple who attempt to take over a Western Slope orchard.

I haven't looked back on either of those stories in years but now I recognize that it was no coincidence both ideas came while traveling. There is something about moving through space that sprouts ideas in my mind. My latest theory is that scenery in motion is so information dense that it stimulates the brain to make unusual connections. However it works, I've started to use it to my advantage while writing.

Running, walking or riding my bike seem to produce similar results. In fact, the idea of the novel I'm working on now came while hiking up to work on a snowy day, as pictured below. (I know I have the worst commute in the world :/ ).  I use this to my advantage, schedule outdoor exercise at the beginning of my writing time or taking time to jot down notes directly afterward. If I remember to think about the story, I frequently figure how to make something work and I'm pleased with the efficiency of getting exercise while working on a story. It's double good!

Addendum: my husband pointed out that, since aerobic exercise is believed to immediately promote new brain cell growth in adults, there is even a positive impact during the post-exercise writing period.

And neuroscience research on how our brains get more creative during unfocused, downtime.  

No comments: