There’s a reason for this. Creative insight requires that we momentarily let go of thinking, of clinging to what we already know - and even of caring about the outcome - so that the brain’s unconscious processes can make new connections. The mind needs to be open and exploring freely, without judgement and without attachment to a set goal.
Creativity, therefore, requires a mindful state of mind. Ellen Langer has written more about the parallels between creativity and mindfulness in her book On Becoming An Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity. In fact, Langer is of the opinion that mindfulness and creativity are the same thing.
But there’s a quick way to trick the mind into a mindful (or creative) attitude: freewriting. Freewriting is writing steadily without stopping and without knowing where you’re going. I recently trialed some freewriting exercises with a group of fellow writers at a Royal Literary Fund conference, with interesting results.
I describe some of the prompts I used on the RLF consultant fellows’ blog today. (If you aren’t already familiar with the RLF, their website and blog are really useful resources created by and for writers.)
Try the exercises yourself – or with students, if you’re a teacher. Failing this, you could always take an 8-week mindfulness course. I highly recommend it, both for writing and for life. I frequently receive insights or remember things I’ve got to do when I’m supposed to be meditating …
Heather Dyer, Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow