As writers, we have all experienced it at some time or another, the massive brain shut down — when words elude us, ideas confound us, and writing, well it just cannot happen. In the midst of this brain freeze or writer’s block, we instinctively panic, forcing ourselves to work harder, grasping for ideas and pushing out sentences. But this struggle actually seems to hinder our ability to focus on the job; with more worries and anxiety come more extraneous thoughts about deadlines, clients, and quality work. The next time you find yourself in a creative pickle, consider a little productive procrastination in the form of sleep to get your muse back in the writing mood.
In the past when you have encountered a problem or a tough decision, someone has likely given you the age old advice to just “sleep on it.” Or maybe you have heard that everything will be clear in the morning. As it turns out, there is more truth and science behind these sayings than we all initially knew. It is not just the passage of time which helps our brains think more clearly, but sleep itself has been shown to help the brain solve problems and think more creatively.
Studies have also shown that the type of rest you give your brain matters. In a study conducted at the University of California, San Diego, researchers divided participants into three groups: one which rested awake, one which took a quick nap, and another which slept through a full REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle, the stage of sleep which involves dreaming. Of these three groups, only members of the third group showed improvement on a creativity test known as a remote associates test. In order to improve your creative process and problem solving abilities, you really do have to sleep on it (not nap on it or rest on it).
So, if your writing hits a wall, go to bed, and enjoy your dreams. The art of improving creativity and solving problems can be mastered with a technique called lucid dreaming. Lucid dreamers are aware that they are dreaming, and are able to control their dreams. Individuals who are able to have lucid dreams are, in a sense, awake while dreaming. Lucid dreams allow you to enjoy the free flow of the subconscious dream state while benefiting from the logical structure of the conscious. Masters of lucid dreaming use the best of both states of consciousness to solve problems and come up with new ideas.
Although, when facing the deadlines and high quality standards of content writing jobs, sleep naturally feels like the wrong thing to do. The next time your brain refuses to work any longer, heed the signs, and give it a much needed break. Hit the hay, and end your creativity drought by taking a long sleep and tapping into your mind’s own creative springs.
Cute baby monkeys and orange colored cats, warm fuzzy slippers and soft stocking hats, pumpkin spice lattes topped with whipped cream, these are a few of Jennifer G’s favorite things.