I learnt something new today. There is an area of our brains called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. This is responsible for planning and self-censorship, and could quite easily be called the ‘inner editor’.
It is so important when writing to turn off the inner editor and give your creativity free reign, and a Dr Charles Limb has undertaken a study which shows this is exactly what happens when we get into the ‘zone’. By using an MRI, Dr Limb has found that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (aka the inner editor) actually shuts off during periods of improvisation and creativity, and others parts of the brain such as those connected to the senses , and those linked with autobiographical story-telling become especially lively.
Having completed Nanowrimo several times over, I know the feeling of getting into the zone – your fingers are flying across the laptop, a story emerging on the screen – one that with every word is diverging from what you had so clearly and cleverly planned out in your mind (or even on paper). Characters go off on tangents completely unexpected, once one even argued with me about how he was being portrayed! When you reach that zone, the story comes through you – almost from somewhere else (and hey – maybe it IS from somewhere else). When you give your creativity full reign amazing things happen.
I’ve known that for a while – but Dr Limb has found something equally amazing! Creativity engages the whole brain – far more than most other activities and beyond what is required for normal functioning. Creativity exercises the brain in a way little else can. What a great way to keep it sharp, clever, alert! I could not think of a better way to exercise your brain!
For more information on this – Dr Limb was interviewed by the Office of Letters and Light (Nanowrimo’s parent company), here: http://blog.lettersandlight.org/post/23737084352, which links through to a video of Dr Limb on TED.
And for anyone interested… A snippet of story has found its way into my brain, so I have signed up for CampNano in June!! Maybe I’ll see you there! 🙂