Can a Quick Walk Create Creativity?
When it comes to constantly creating new content, for me, sometimes the well runs dry. I’m sure I’m not the only writer to stare at a blank page on their computer screen and wonder what to write about. It has to be engaging, interesting, and for me, humorous. My bag-o-tricks involves watching TED Talks and finding something relevant that piques my interest.
TED began in 1984 covering short, focused talks on the subjects of Technology, Entertainment and Design. Now they cover everything. At their website you can choose from a vast array of topics and duration of speeches. For example, I clicked on topics of creativity lasting no longer than six minutes. The average TED Talk is about 18 minutes.
It’s called: Want to Be More Creative? Go For a Walk. Of course, this rule has been around for a long time. Walks are great for lots of things, not just getting the creative juices flowing, but to cool off if someone’s pissed you off or to combat a sedentary lifestyle, to name a few. But the point of this TED Talk was to prove through research that a brisk walk is great for brainstorming.
The definition of creativity, according to these researchers is “appropriate novelty.” In other words the solution must suit the problem and it must be a new idea. Scientists set up three control groups and told them to come up with other ways to use a key besides unlocking something. The first group sat down in 2 tests. The second group sat first, then walked on a treadmill down. The third group walked on a treadmill first, then sat. The winner came up with the idea to use the key to scratch into the ground the name of the person who attacked you before you died. That’s pretty creative, right?
The researchers listed five rules you need to follow so I decided to try them for myself. Here’s what happened.
- Pick a problem/topic for brainstorming – This was easy since my problem was lacking content for my blog. Instead of using a treadmill (because that would require me going to the gym-ugh) I went on a good old fashioned walk.
- Walk at a comfortable pace – No problem. I took my dog and she tends to walk me. There were no instructions about music. Typically I like to walk with music, but since it wasn’t mentioned, I didn’t. I live in the burbs and heard the siren from one fire-truck, kids laughing at the nearby school, and the wind blowing through the trees.
- Come up with as many ideas as you can – Struggled here. One idea I had was to write a blog post about the government shutdown and how Congress shouldn’t get paid if others don’t get paid. In other words, a rant session. But since I don’t write a political blog and there’s nothing funny about our so-called leaders not being able to do their damn job, I discarded this idea.
- Speak or record your new ideas – Flat out didn’t do this one. And it’s not because I’m not capable of speaking to myself like a crazy person. I do it all the time when I’m writing fiction. Things like, “Oh no you didn’t” and “I told you not to go home with that guy.” Fictional people don’t listen just like real people. Anyway, I didn’t record any new ideas because I didn’t have any new ideas.
- Cap your time – In other words, don’t force it and walk for three days because nothing comes to you. After 20 minutes or so, go back to your desk, stare at that blank sheet of paper and try again later.
And I would like to add another suggestion to getting your creative juices flowing – one that works for me.
- Do something creative in a different area – For example, painting. And I don’t mean flowers on a canvass. I mean paint a wall in your home. The creativity is choosing the color and the creative juices will flow with the monotony of painting the wall. You can also sew something simple, like bandanas for your dog. Again, simple process that has a beginning and an end. If you are stuck in an office, even doodling on a notepad will allow the brain to flow easily and the ideas to enter – and that’s what we’re talking about – creating FLOW.
Missed last week’s Random Thoughts about eating a plant based diet (yuck) and living longer? Check it out here.