New years are always a prime opportunity for setting goals for the year ahead, and for establishing new writing habits. As you ponder your writing goals for 2016, take a moment to review these 5 things about your brain that may help you Fire Up Your Writing Brain and become a more creative, productive, and successful writer in 2016.
- Own the power of your brain. We have 86 billion neurons; each can form as many as 15,000 synapses, gifting your brain the potential to form some 100 trillion synapses. Your brain has the capacity to develop over 100,000 miles of neuronal connections, enough to wrap around the world 4 times. What neuroscientists are discovering is that the human brain can do far more than we previously thought. Whatever physical limitations our minds have projected onto our brains, in fact, may not exist at all. Our brains may well be limitless.
- Your brain has the ability to grow throughout your lifetime, and you have the power to shape how it grows. The choices you make will inform your brain about what’s important to you and the level of work you want to accomplish. If you choose to spend a lot of time watching TV instead of thinking, your brain will power down the minute you turn the screen on and begin watching. If, on the other hand, you power up and either read or write something challenging, your brain will rise to the occasion and step up its efforts to please you. You set the standard by using your conscious mind to choose. It’s your brain to prime or to waste.
- Your brain is dependent upon what you consciously choose to do to develop its maximum capacity. If you do little to nothing to stimulate, nourish, protect, and expand your brain, it will remain stagnant. However, if you actively push the limits, nourish, protect, stimulate, and challenge your brain, you can have a happier, far more productive brain and a happier life. Having the best brain possible comes with focusing on body, mind, and soul and how you connect all the circuits that keep those neurons firing. It’s up to you how well your brain gets nourished, how much blood flow it receives, how well it’s rested and allowed to process daily stimulation (both integrating and discarding events while you sleep), and how much it’s stimulated in specific ways, for specific reasons.
- You can train your brain to love writing by linking pleasure to writing. Two things neuroscientists have discovered are that your brain actively seeks to please you and it responds to rewards. What you “wire together, fires together,” so if you link pleasure to writing, you can train your brain to anticipate and enjoy writing sessions. Your brain is designed to do your conscious bidding and will make efforts to please you. When you identify clearly what it is you want your brain to do, it will start firing neurons to make it happen – and the harder you think, the more neurons will spark. So when you’re stuck, just think harder, force yourself to stick with it. However, end all writing sessions with something that brings you pleasure (a chocolate, a cup of tea, a phone call to your best friend, a walk, planting flowers, etc.) and your brain will release the “feel-good” chemicals that reward you, and the brain itself. Your brain craves those chemicals and thus will link writing with the pleasure, which will make it easier and easier to write. Tip: don’t punish yourself for failing to meet word count expectations. This can link a sense of failure to writing. Always find the good in what you’ve done and end writing sessions with an affirmation.
- Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools for increasing your brain’s ability to imagine and create and function—because it creates a massive increase in bi-directional networking within your brain. Both practices calm your brain and train it to focus on whatever it is that you mediate upon, even if that is a reminder to release all unrelated thoughts to whatever it is you want to focus upon. Both practices are easily learned and can be massively helpful in both improving focus and accessing inner thoughts. By removing distractions, you are gifting your brain the opportunity to release what’s not important (or is cluttering your mind), clarify thoughts, and hone in on what’s most important to you. It doesn’t take much to learn how to sit quietly for 15 minutes and to send all intruding thoughts away, as if they are drifting away in thought balloons. The practice of Kirtan Kriya is a great way to warm up your brain before you write.
Hot Tip: Your brain can fall into a rut, form neuronal pathways that become a default system. You and your brain can get set in your ways, and that can stymie creativity. What you want to do is to shake it up occasionally, to try other approaches and even to do the opposite of what you normally do.
Happy Writing in 2016!