What if there was a way you could activate your brain to help support your writing? Good news, there is. This week I’ve been studying for my psychology exam. In doing so, I’ve discovered some interesting information about the brain I believe could benefit you in achieving your writing goals.
New Neural Pathways
Every time you learn something new, and keep repeating it, it creates a neural pathway in your brain linked to that activity. The more you do the activity, the stronger the pathway. After about 21 days of doing this activity, your brain naturally follows this pathway without you having to consciously think about it.
So what does this mean for your writing? If you set yourself the goal of writing every day for 21 consecutive days, you’ll build the habit of writing, and will be more likely to continue it without needing to force yourself. There’s a catch, though.
I think it was in an Abraham Hicks audio I listened to where I heard that if you miss a day of doing something you’re trying to create a habit for you need to go back three days and start from that point rather than just pick up where you left off.
That means if you miss a day of writing, you need to add three more days if you want to train your brain to help achieve your writing goals.
The Dopamine Effect
Dopamine is a powerful chemical neurotransmitter. It’s associated with rewarding behaviour that makes you feel good and is released into the brain when you do something pleasurable.
I believe chasing a ‘dopamine hit’ is what’s at the heart of the instant gratification problems society suffers from. We’re rewarded when we allow our focus and concentration to be diverted to answering the ping of an email, text, or social media notification.
We’ve literally trained our brains to respond to a quick, momentary burst of dopamine instead of a more satisfying effect when you delay gratification and achieve your goal.
If don’t believe me, here’s a scenario to consider…Imagine you’re writing a chapter of your book and you hear the ping signalling a message from a friend. You stop writing to read it. It makes you smile and temporarily takes your mind off somewhere else.
You feel good in that moment (instant gratification), but it doesn’t last long. Now when you try to go back to writing, it’s harder to get back in the creative flow. This doesn’t feel good, so it releases no dopamine.
You’ve just trained your brain that a message from your friend is more important than writing. The more you interrupt your writing, the less likely you are to go back to it because it doesn’t feel good.
If, however, you turned off all notifications until you finished writing (delayed gratification), not only do you get a more sustained dopamine hit and feel good for achieving a goal, but you also get the reward of a dopamine hit when you check your messages, email, or social media afterwards.
Rewarding yourself after doing a specific task associated with a goal you want to achieve is what helps that task become a habit because you feel good every time you finish doing it.
What you choose to reward yourself with is irrelevant, as long as it’s something you find pleasurable, and doesn’t harm or impact anyone else. For example, going for a walk, eating a piece of chocolate, or writing until the timer goes off.
The Creativity Frequency
There are four main frequencies, measured in Hertz (Hz) that our brain resonates with, each serving a different function:
- Beta – this is the frequency of 12-35Hz, your waking state, where you’re most alert and active. It’s where you solve problems, make decisions, and process information.
- Alpha – this is the frequency of 8-12Hz. It occurs when your mind and body are relaxed, such as just before you fall asleep, and can aid creativity and learning. Deep breathing helps you access alpha brainwaves.
- Theta – this is the frequency of 4-8Hz where you can more easily access your subconscious mind. According to Neuro Health, it’s connected with creativity, intuition, dreaming/daydreaming. Deep relaxation and meditation also occur here.
- Delta – this is the frequency of 0.5-4Hz. It occurs during deep sleep and allows the body to heal and rejuvenate.
Listening to music or binaural beat audios in the alpha or theta ranges while you’re writing or before you begin, will improve access to your creativity. They can also help you solve a character or story issue you might be having.
Many are freely available on YouTube, which you can find by searching “creativity frequency.” Then it’s a matter of choosing one you like the sound of. Here are some of my other posts on creativity and productivity:
Do you have any other ways to engage your brain in helping to achieve your writing goals? If so, please share them in the comments below.
Cheers to your writing success!