Thursday, July 9, 2009

Where You're a Genius

You want to quiet the noise in your head to solidify that fragile germ of an idea
~ Dr. Jung-Beeman

Have you ever wondered where your Aha! moments come from? That's brilliant! you say. That's pure genius! This is going to be the best book ever written because I'm so darned clever! Yeah, I've been there, too.

A recent study in an article titled, A Wandering Mind Heads Straight Toward Insight, shows that our Aha! moments are more method than we think. And they come from the strangest of places - daydreaming. The truth is, most of these thoughts are genius. They're the thoughts that come about from our brain working harder than it normally does - even harder than when we're concentrating on a problem.

"People assumed that when your mind wandered it was empty," says cognitive neuroscientist Kalina Christoff at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. . . As measured by brain activity, however, "mind wandering is a much more active state than we ever imagined, much more active than during reasoning with a complex problem."

She suspects that the flypaper of an unfocused mind may trap new ideas and unexpected associations more effectively than methodical reasoning. That may create the mental framework for new ideas. "You can see regions of these networks becoming active just prior to people arriving at an insight," she says.

Talk about a relief! Because I don't know about you, but I daydream all the time. Especially about my writing and my characters and story.

One of the most important points of this article, however, was that insight comes best when the mind is positive. How you are thinking and feeling when you delve into daydreaming and those "mindless useless thoughts" has a direct correlation on how effective that daydreaming will be. And it can be effective! Think of Descartes, Newton, Archimedes.

I've noticed a lot of negativity around the blogosphere these past few weeks. I'd like to shout out that we need to STOP! It's a vicious cycle. If we're negative, our work will suffer. We will suffer. And it spreads like a disease. It obviously affects us more than we think it does.

Now put a smile on your face, gather your confidence, and head out to a field or a quiet corner today. Let your mind daydream. Get that Aha! moment you've been waiting for.

~MDA (aka Glam)


  1. Yes! Daydreaming pays off!

    I've gotten some of my best writing ideas from daydreaming, or even dreaming, now that you mention it...

  2. Okay, okay, I'll take off my cranky pants and see if I can find some fun pants that still fit! lol

    p.s. I have been guilty of the negativity lately. So not pleasant. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Woo hoo! Glad to hear my daydreaming is good for something. :) Great post!

  4. Thank you for directing your readers to 4 terrific blogspots -- each one is unique, yet uplifting.

    I'm glad to read that these voices rumbling around in my head may actually be productive! lol

    And you know ... I really enjoyed your post!

  5. Great post, Michelle! And it's true: I get my best ideas when I'm nowhere near my manuscript, doing nothing in particular. Some day, I'll be able to do nothing in particular more often.

  6. I always say that thinkinng about writing is half of actually've got to internalize it before you can make it external.

  7. I'm sorry, my mind was wandering. What did you say?

  8. Great post ... and I always knew my daydreaming was meant for enhancing creativity in the universe ;)

  9. Hmm...I don't daydream very much. I'm very task-oriented, so the just-do-whatever attitude is hard for me. But I'm gonna try it more often!

  10. Wonderful post! It explains why I get great ideas in the shower. It's one of the few times I let myself just... think.

    Thank you for the insight!

  11. Hmm, so if I stand around smiling without thinking, I will become a bestselling author. I like it.

  12. So daydreaming through algebra wasn't a bad thing? Woo-hoo!

    Some of my best writing comes when I'm lying on the couch, my cat Squeaky curled on my chest purring in contentment, and my mind wandering where it will during those moments. Conversations and situations abound in the vastness of my mind.

    Great post, and glad to know that the C in algebra because I was daydreaming is worthwhile in the end.


  13. Does laughing at our non-writing friends count towards the negativity thing? Just wondering. If so, I repent.

    And you are so right on about the whole mind wandering thing. It's that cusp of consciousness where all my best ideas live.

  14. This clicked for me. Lately, I haven't allowed myself time to daydream. I'm too busy, and even when I'm not, I feel too guilty to just sit around daydreaming, as I used to do for hours when I was younger.

    The downside of my family and friends knowing I'm a writer, even knowing what book I'm working on, is that if I start speculating on some new, idle idea -- the fruit of some fanciful daydream -- my companion is likely to shut it down with a comment, "Aren't you supposed to be working on selling that other book right now?"

    I nod guiltily and try to force my mind away from stray thoughts, then wonder why the well tastes dry.

  15. Okay, I've got the flypaper out. Let's see what I catch! Thanks, going daydreaming now......

  16. How true. My best ideas hit me on vacation. I love to plop myself in the surf and stare at the waves. When I know that there's nothing I can do about the work I left behind, it frees my mind to explore new ideas. How I wish I was there right now!

  17. I've been involved in several discussions concerning the recent rash of negativity in the Land of Blog. The best I've come up with is that it's a computer virus transmitted through the interwebs. Whatever it is (or was), it is growing weaker, and we seem to be on the mend now. A little more daydreaming, and we should be back to our normal, slightly wacky selves.

  18. Must be a writer flu or something. Seems like lots of people are having life stuff get in the way of writing stuff, both good and bad.

    I have cranky pants, too. /raises hand. I will try my best to take them off as soon as possible.

  19. I love daydreaming, particularly when I am in the middle of a story. It makes the scenes come to life and I really get to know the characters. What fun!

  20. I strive to never be negative online. Or maybe I should rephrase that as I strive to always be positive online :)
    And I love daydreaming. It is the best!

  21. My mind wanders endlessly! :) Nice post. And I'm glad my mind isn't empty! :)

  22. So true. So true. My best ideas definitely come from daydreaming. It's how I spend time with my characters, figure out their motives, their pasts, their futures...all that good stuff.

    The best time to daydream, for me---while driving alone with nothing but the songs on my iPod. My best ideas yet, though, have come from what you might term *negative* songs. Songs about sadness, loneliness, betrayal, anger. But, of course, happier songs fill in the necessary gaps and, ultimately, bring some positive ideas to light. ;-)

    Great post!

  23. Mariah: Yeah, I've gotten ideas from dreaming, too. That's the best!

    Sherrinda: Cranky pants, haha. Well, yours are done a lot in jest, so it's all good!

    Bonnie: It is good for something! Just not if you're driving and not paying attention to the road. I've done that before...

    Suz: I really think those rumbling voices ARE productive. So keep at it!

    Scott: Yeah, mine come when I'm not anywhere my MS either. Wouldn't be great if we all had more time to just daydream? SIGH.

    Beth: Internalizing it is very important. Awesome way to put it!

    Rick: Go read the post again. ;)

    Lost Wanderer: LOL! Yeah, the whole universe benefits!

    Elana: I'm pretty task-oriented too. But I thought everybody daydreamed. You really don't?

    Rebecca: The shower is where I get ALL my really brilliant ideas. This morning I almost fell asleep in there...

    Justus: I like it, too. Now get to work on staring at the wall.

    Scott: Nope, not a bad thing to daydream through math! I did that all the time... or doodled. So does your cat actually squeak?

    Tess: Haha. No, I don't think that counts. That's just dealing with the frustration we get with all of that.

    Tara: So glad it clicked for you! Yeah, non artistic people might not understand all of this very well.

    Tricia: I love that use of flypaper in the quote. I'll never look at flypaper the same again.

    Amy: Yep, that's why I want to take more vacations. If only!

    Sandra: HAHA! Good to know that it's on the mend. It sure has pulled me down into the depths. Stupid virus.

    Erin: It's hard to be positive. Both take a lot of energy, but positive energy brings about so much more creativity. And it just makes everything brighter. So yeah, if ya feel like ranting, that's okay. Just warn me first. :)

    Cindy: Me, too. I think that's the only way I can get through writing a book!

    PJ: I try to be positive, but I've kind of been negative lately. It's addicting!

    Robyn: Yeah, I can tell my husband all the quiet time staring out windows is actually writing time. Haha.

    Ashley: I have to agree on the "negative" songs. They often trigger some great emotions to draw from. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I'm REALLY late visiting the blog today. But, a really nice post, Michelle. It's always a good reminder that a positive attitude not only keeps us happy, but it's actually beneficial. I admit to being pretty neutral most of the time. I'm both negative and positive about my writing at any given moment. Maybe that's not neutral, but more like manic-depressive!

  25. Davin: I think I'm along the same lines. I'm always up and down within a few seconds. I think that's why I'm always exhausted!

  26. Wow, I read this post at the right time.
    It makes me happy to know the mind works hardest when daydreaming. I'm always staring off into space. Now I don't have to tell myself to stop and go do something productive.

    And Justus, lol!

  27. Annie: It sounds like we'd get along in real life. We could stare off into space together over hot chocolate and cashews. Or cinnamon buns. Or something good to eat. :D


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.