Monday, January 12, 2009

The importance of idle time...

I'm enjoying reading Creativity, Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihailyi while I'm here. It's a book I've had for some time but haven't got round to reading properly before, partly because I didn't want to cram it in. I have been cramming too many things in recently. One of the things I'll take back from here though is the importance of doing nothing. Here's what Mihaly says about idle time (I'll be informal because, boy, what a surname...)

Something similar to parallel processing may be taking place when the elements of a problem are said to be incubating. When we think consciously about an issue, our previous training and the effort to arrive at a solution push our ideas in a linear direction, usually along predictable or familiar lines. But intentionality does not work in the subconscious. Free from rational direction, ideas can combine and pursue each other every which way. Because of this freedom, original connections that would be at first rejected by the rational mind have a chance to become established.

5 comments:

jem said...

I think any theory that promotoes doing nothing is a winner in my books :)

But seriously. Allowing incubation time works well. I often chew over a few words, and carry them around in my mouth for a few hours before writing them down. When they make it to the page they are often far stronger than the ones that rushed there quickly.

Tania Hershman said...

How great, it totally bears out your guest blog on my blog, and my whole theory> about distracting myself with online Scrabble while writing a story. Thanks for finding a very impressively-named bloke to tell us!

Fiona Robyn said...

It is a bit of a thick book, isn't it?! I enjoyed it a lot. Have you read Brenda Ueland? She writes about moodling very well.

superior said...

You these things, I have read twice, for me, this is a relatively rare phenomenon!
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book report said...

Nice post! I have written a book report on this way back in college. Idle time is indeed important. It relaxes my mind and soothes my whole being.