Tuesday, December 08, 2015

When in doubt, do the dishes

Because the creative process regularly feels uncertain, overwhelming and unsatisfying, it’s important for each artist to build a personal menu of faithful forces. Portable routines and dependable constants to keep their creative life stable and fruitful when inspiration goes into hiding. 

I prefer doing the dishes. Because unlike publishing books or composing music or giving speeches or strategizing with clients, doing the dishes is one of the few times in which I have zero external demands and little need to exert a high degree of concentration. 

Unlike creating new art out of thin air, doing the dishes is a completely mindless, physically taxing, immediately rewarding, psychologically calming activity. It satisfies my human desire to see things to completion. It has a definite beginning, middle and end, and that gives me a deep sense of achievement. Most importantly, doing the dishes never fails to flood my mind with inspiration for my work. 

And that’s where things get really interesting. 

Zhong conducted popular study about brain incubation and the merits of unconscious thoughts in creativity, and it found that habitual tasks like doing the dishes enabled people to unconsciously access peripheral information that their brain may not readily consider during an intense state of focus. 

In the study, neuroimaging indicated that these types of situations allow the outermost regions of the prefrontal cortex, which are the areas of the brain that help exert cognitive control, to loosen the reins and allow thought processes and neural activity not strictly related to the primary task. 

And so, anytime I find myself staring the screen, convinced that I have nothing to meaningful say to the world, I simply leave my office and go do the dishes. Even if there are no dishes to be done. It may sound silly, but when you have a job where the quality frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood, you do what you have to do to refill the creative tank. 

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com

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