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Creativity, Writers, and the Stress of Success

Creativity is a
lot like money for us writers: It doesn’t grow on trees… but we sure as heck
wish it did! Some of this month we wanted to dedicate to the creative process
and how to turn your creative ideas into something worthy of publishing. 

As we
have said before, not every idea is a gem, but how we get better at hitting the
mark is definitely a skill worth honing if you hope to be successful in your
career as a writer (here of course only really referring to lucrative
success… I’m sure you can feel successful just having any idea sometimes).

In my graduate
studies I used to have frequent conversations with a friend of mine in our
course on the neurobiology of learning and memory surrounding creativity and
the neurological origin of those “creative sparks.” 

Our brains are amazing at
acquiring new information by establishing new networks between our brain cells
(otherwise known as neurons) based on a stimulating input. 

This information can
be linked to other information, senses, experiences, or even past memories and
can also be subsequently modified at a later date.  The interesting thing about creativity from a
neurological perspective is that it is a synthesis of new connections often in
response to very little input (if any at all). 

It is in some ways like your
brain working in reverse of how it is used to working. Rather than receiving
input and establishing related connections, creativity forges connections to
generate an output. Now, this is my simplified musings on the concept of
creativity, but I think when we think about it this way, we can understand why
it isn’t always the easiest thing to be creative.

This idea helps to
explain why certain mental and physiological states really prevent us from
being able to be creative at times. A while ago on my other blog TheVoiceNotes, I wrote a post surrounding stress and the effects it has on our
body. As writers and artists we are often under time crunches or under stress
for a variety of other reasons (be it financial, personal, emotional, etc etc
etc).  

This stress creates an imbalance
and distracting environment for our minds and bodies. In essence we are
bombarding our brain with input as it tries to maintain a balanced
physiological state. Now with all this input and brain activity, imagine trying
to attempt to generate new and unique connections when these neurons are
already overactive. Not an easy task even in the book  7 Solid Roads To Writing Success mentions you need creativity as a writer.

In contrast, when
we are inspired by other writing or music, it is almost like our brain activity
is acting like a booster to facilitate new connections. In science we often call
this sort of “booster effect” a priming
effect
. Just like in painting, you have to work harder and use more coats
of paint if you want to paint over or correct a mistake you made. However, if
you have a primer, it covers this for you and allows your new colour to be
vibrant and undiluted by what came before.
This hopefully
starts to get you thinking about creativity and how you can maybe best foster a
positive environment for it when you are attempting to write. Creativity is
such an important part of our lives and careers as writers and artists. We owe
it to ourselves and our craft to make sure we prime it so it can reach its full
potential!

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