Creativity is innate. It’s actually a function built into our brain. Still we overthink the creative process and when we do, we short-circuit our own creativity.
In new research published in Scientific Reports, brain research Allan Reiss and his colleagues were surprised to find that our abilities to create are tied to the cerebellum. The region in the base of the brain also is responsible for movement, memory, and coordination.
But when the ‘executive center’ of the brain’s prefrontal cortex was engaged – the area that helps us plan and organize, fold laundry – creative activity dropped off.
As researcher and the study’s co-author Manish Saggar says: “The more you think about it, the more you mess it up.”
But how can you access your more creative attributes without overthinking the process?
Of course, that’s the question I’ve been trying to answer all day. While my prefrontal cortex was active scheduling assignments and compiling research, the words that I needed for my own creative expression seemed to take a hike. So, I did too, quite literally.
Creating Without Over Thinking
While brain researchers figure out what’s going on in the cerebellum that causes neurological function to coordinate our creative expression, psychologists have spent decades trying to understand how we can ignite creativity in our everyday lives.
In a 2014 study, researchers found that walking can help. Walking promotes divergent thinking, which helps people access a variety of different ideas about any one topic. In a short time, divergent thinking prompts multiple solutions to any one problem.
Divergent thinking usually is a free-flowing process. It inspires innovative possibilities, sometimes through brainstorming or mind-mapping methods, that can later be evaluated and analyzed for application. It turns out that a simple walk around the block can dramatically improve this creative thought process.
Or you could just read the phone book. Researchers Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman found that those who take on a passive, boring task – such as copying numbers out of a phone book – are more creative problem -solvers. Boring tasks allow more opportunity for daydreaming. That can inspire creative expression.
Daydreaming also can inspire a good mood. That can be another creativity booster.
Barriers to Creating
Yet, despite the prompts that can prime our brain to create, we also have to overcome our own fears and insecurity.
Self-doubt is the biggest reason people don’t produce, says Margarita Tartakovsky, MS, is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com and the blogger behind “Make a Mess: Everyday Creativity.”
“We think we have to create something worthwhile, whatever that means. We worry that what we create won’t be good enough. Maybe we think what we create will spotlight our inadequacies,” she says.
“We all struggle with self-doubt.”
But a sure-fire ways through it is to create anyhow.
“Since self-doubt is most likely here to stay we can quiet it by working,” Tartakovsky says. By creating. Creating every day helps us practice. It helps us get better.”
In Wednesday’s post, Tartakovsky and I will offer up other ways to keep cope with the inner critic to keep creating.