Does this happen to you? You’re driving somewhere that takes about 20 minutes. Suddenly, the solution to a knotty problem that’s been plaguing you in your wip pops into your head. But you’re driving. You can’t pull over. You can’t drive and write, either (though you think about doing it anyway). You pray desperately that the idea sticks long enough for you to get to your destination and jot it down in its complete perfection.
Then you get where you were going and have forgotten half of it by the time you get your notepad out of the glove-box.
I had this happen to me the other day, and it was frustrating as hell. I do that a lot, get good ideas at the wrong time. There’s something about having my body involved in a rote task that releases the clamps on my mind. I take cold comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in this. Writers tell me that they get their best ideas while scrubbing the floor or cleaning the gak out of their gutters. Others like to sleep on it, and find answers waiting for them in the morning.
Brain experts call this the left mind/right mind struggle. People tend to have one side of their brain dominate their thought patterns. If you are an analytical person who likes to have all their ducks in a row before embarking on a project, you tend to think with the left side of your brain. If you’re the sort of person who goes with your gut, sure you’ll eventually get to the answer, you are probably dominated by the right side of your brain.
(If you’re not sure which part of your brain dominates, take the quiz HERE).
I’m a firmly left-brainiac. Which means I over-analyze when I should be creative. But I’ve found exercises that will help strengthen the right side of my brain.
(I stole all this from About.com entry on ‘The Brain Gym’.)
Drink Water “Water comprises more of the brain (with estimates of 90%) than of any other organ of the body.” Drinking water is very important before any stressful situation – tests! – as we tend to perspire under stress, and de-hydration can effect our concentration negatively.
“Brain Buttons” This exercise helps improve blood flow to the brain to “switch on” the entire brain before a lesson begins. The increased blood flow helps improve concentration skills required for reading, writing, etc.
- Put one hand so that there is as wide a space as possible between the thumb and index finger.
- Place your index and thumb into the slight indentations below the collar bone on each side of the sternum. Press lightly in a pulsing manner.
- At the same time put the other hand over the navel area of the stomach. Gently press on these points for about 2 minutes.
“Cross Crawl” This exercise helps coordinate right and left brain by exercising the information flow between the two hemispheres. It is useful for spelling, writing, listening, reading and comprehension.
- Stand or sit. Put the right hand across the body to the left knee as you raise it, and then do the same thing for the left hand on the right knee just as if you were marching.
- Just do this either sitting or standing for about 2 minutes.
“Hook Ups” This works well for nerves before a test or special event such as making a speech. Any situation which will cause nervousness calls for a few “hook ups” to calm the mind and improve concentration.
- Stand or sit. Cross the right leg over the left at the ankles.
- Take your right wrist and cross it over the left wrist and link up the fingers so that the right wrist is on top.
- Bend the elbows out and gently turn the fingers in towards the body until they rest on the sternum (breast bone) in the center of the chest. Stay in this position.
- Keep the ankles crossed and the wrists crossed and then breathe evenly in this position for a few minutes. You will be noticeably calmer after that time.
Interested in more ways to improve right-brain creativity? Here are some fun ‘workouts‘ to try.
With some practice, I hope to improve my right brain so that it can compete equally with my left brain. Then hopefully creativity will emerge when I need it to–when I’m writing.