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Does Our Need For Constant Input Hinder Our Creativity?

© Krista Stryker 2011
Blogs, music, e-mail, television, radio, news, apps, video games, social networking... the amount of input we consume on a daily basis is astounding.

I'm almost always reading or listening to something.  I'll have a podcast playing on my headphones when I'm walking my dog.  Or the news on in the background when I'm washing my dishes.  And I always have a book with me just in case I'm stuck waiting in line with nothing to do (and, as a backup, my iPhone).  

Technology has made leaps and bounds over the past few decades, allowing us more access to constant input than ever before.  This works out great for me, since I love learning (thus my blog name, need.input).

So much input, so little time

But this endless information could be cramping our brain's natural creative thinking process: daydreaming.

Think about it: in this day of incessant information, how often do you simply look out a window and think?  Or sit around and do nothing for a while?

My answer to this question is almost never, and I'm guessing you're in the same boat.

Daydreaming encourages creativity

Contrary to what our teachers told us as kids, letting your mind wander is actually a productive use of your time.  Studies show that letting your mind wander is integral to the creative thinking process and that our minds are more active during daydreaming than when doing analytical thinking, what most of us consider to be hard work.  Plus, daydreaming is what leads us to those Eureka or 'aha' moments all creative people hope for (if you're interested in a more scientific explanation of exactly why daydreaming is so crucial to creative insight, I highly recommend this article by Robert Lee Hotz).

But just like anything else, we have to make time for it.  Start by trying to carve out a few pieces of your day where you have absolutely no input (obviously this means intentional input - you can't stop the cars from honking outside your window or your dog from barking).  Turn off the TV while you're making dinner, go on a walk without your headphones (gasp!), do a mindless activity such as cleaning the house with nothing on in the background... you get the idea.  It may seem a little boring at first for those of us used to constant input, but your brain will thank you for it.

Important note: this does not give you an excuse to daydream all day long.  You still have to put in the hard work to get the creative process started, or your brain will have nothing to say 'aha' about.

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