Don't Force It: The Secret to Creativity Lies in Doing Absolutely Nothing

Updated 02/05/18
Heidi's Bridge

We resort to a myriad of activities in an attempt to overcome creative blocks; we journal, watch inspiring movies, or read our favorite books in a search of inspiration. But as The Cut reports, channeling your inner creativity can be best accomplished by doing absolutely nothing and simply letting your mind wander.

The publication references 2014 research from neuroscientists Marcus Raichle, Brenda Milner, and John O'Keefe. The three discovered a constellation of brain networks that produce activity when your mind wanders, calling it the "default mode network." In some ways, "your brain works just as hard when you're relaxed as it does when you're focused on a task," they explain.

In other words, there's a reason your best ideas seem to strike when you're in the shower, drifting off to sleep, or brushing your teeth in the morning. "When your brain isn't focused on a task, it switches to default mode: You wash your hair and shave your legs almost instinctively because you've done it so many times before," writes the magazine. "Raichle and his colleagues found that there are parts of our brain that are even more active when we're on 'autopilot.'"

This autopilot mode essentially allows our brains to focus inward and access our episodic memory. In doing so, we can "relate to ourselves in our memories and previous experiences, i.e., the past and future," said Raichle in an interview. So the next time you're feeling creatively stunted, don't force it; consider walking away from the project for a few days or even taking a vacation. Allowing your mind to relax may coax out some of your best ideas. Head over to The Cut for more.

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