Can you boost lateral thinking?
In my previous blog, I described how lateral thinking can be a resource for writers. It is that flash of insight, intuition or epiphany; that ‘eureka’ moment. Stress, lack of sleep or simply following the same routines everyday tends to shut it down. But it can be tamed, trained and boosted.
Ignite Your New Neural Pathways
Studies show that new physical experience (even small changes) will boost lateral thinking so try pushing the envelope:
- Eat out of your comfort zone — sample new foods or dishes you have never tried before
- Take on a task you would not naturally be drawn at accomplish and follow it through to the end. The point is just to finish so follow the tortoise not the hare
- Cultivate a diverse collection of lunchtime companionship – break bread with people whose passions and expertise are radically different from your own
- Brush your teeth with your weaker hand — carry out everyday tasks in a different way
- Build natural light into your work space
- Hang a photo or poster of a light bulb above your desk. In this instance lateral thinking is stimulated by the image, not the actual illumination and speaks to the suggestibility of our brains when exposed to an icon or symbol. Priming yourself this way can actually boost your creativity and problem solving skills. Skip the fancy LED’s or fluorescent products. Our brains have been programmed to respond to the simple, good old-fashioned incandescent variety
- Switch up the route you normally take to work or to the mall, on a regular basis
- Nap more (or sleeping in more often)
- Practice productive procrastination for writers – clean a closet, take a shower, cook a pot of chili or embrace some other divergent task when your characters start running a little cold on charisma
René Descartes came up with the basis for the Cartesian Coordinate System in the early 1600’s by watching a fly hover across the room, while lingering in bed till 11 a.m. A habit endorsed first by his parents due to his frail health, then carried on into adulthood.
Philo Farnsworth worked out the design for the all electric television set while ploughing a potato field in the 1920’s.
It’s a non linear process of thought too many of us dismiss but in the words of one of my favourite writers, Lois Lowry, an award winning author of more than thirty children’s books and an autobiography…
“…I feel pulled along by ideas whirling in my head…I’m always scrambling to keep up with them. Racers call it ‘drafting’, I think, when they are pulled along by the suction created in the wake of the person ahead. As a writer, I feel pulled forward that way. The momentum of ideas keeps me going.”
–Lois Lowry, interview by Linda M. Castellitto