To fire up your writing brain and tap into your writing genius, it’s important to understand what your brain can do for you. Twelve brain functions that benefit writing include:
- Add new neurons, even when you’re eighty.
- Create neuronal highways that speed up processing.
- Create new synapses; renew old synapses; discard unwanted synapses.
- Wire together, what you want to fire together (emotional happiness with writing, for example; rewards with successful completion of aspirational word counts).
- Monitor, experience, remember, and re-create events, as if they are occurring again.
- Link new stimuli to existing stimuli.
- Juggle short-term memory (essential to creativity and writing) and convert it to long-term memory (your personal storehouse of ideas).
- Get fired up; fire on all pistons.
- Create and sustain focus; dial down distractions.
- Generate empathy and identification; mirror yourself in others.
- Surprise you and rise to the occasion.
- Perform abstract thinking, creatively linking new and existing ideas, in new combinations.
Now that your knowledge of what your brain can do for you is growing, your part is to stimulate and protect your brain.
Stimulating your brain means expanding your knowledge base, studying your craft, reading works similar to what you want to write and genres or styles that are far different from what you want to write, reading all types of material, especially poetry, essays, and “high brow,” complex literature that taxes your brain, and challenging your brain.
Protecting your brain means getting plenty of sleep at night (8 hours preferable), exercising to increase blood flow, avoiding harmful substances (drugs, alcohol, marijuana), and eating a balanced diet (choosing “real” food over processed foods). The latest suggestion is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH Diet that some call the MIND diet, which recommends:
- Leafy greens (such as spinach, romaine lettuce and kale) every day
- One additional serving of vegetables every day
- Whole grains three times a day
- Nuts on most days (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts in particular)
- Beans about three times a week
- Poultry at least twice a week
- Fish at least once a week.
- Berries at least twice a week (blackberries and blueberries in particular)
- Wine – but no more than one glass a day
- Olive oil as your primary cooking oil
- Limited amounts of red meat, cheese, butter, sweets and fried foods
So be good to that marvelous writing brain of yours, and it will serve you well!