Now here’s a project we can sink our teeth into. We mean, hell, it sure beats actually, you know, creating, no?
by Belle Beth Cooper
I’ve written about how creativity works in the brain before, and I found it really useful to understand this process. Or, I should say, multiple processes.
There’s so much going on in the brain during creativity that science is still trying to pin down exactly how it all works.
What we do know is which three parts of the brain work together to help us create and come up with new ideas:
The Attentional Control Network helps us with laser focus on a particular task. It’s the one that we activate when we need to concentrate on complicated problems or pay attention to a task like reading or listening to a talk.
The Imagination Network as you might have guessed, is used for things like imagining future scenarios and remembering things that happened in the past. This network helps us to construct mental images when we’re engaged in these activities.
The Attentional Flexibility Network has the important role of monitoring what’s going on around us, as well as inside our brains, and switching between the Imagination Network and Attentional Control for us.
Understanding how important connections are to creativity has also made a difference to how I try to generate new ideas. Once we have a lot of knowledge, we need to spend time making connections between it all—this is where creativity comes in.
I’ve shared some ideas in my previous post about creativity to help you come up with new ideas, such as putting yourself in challenging situations, criticizing your own ideas and being open to having lots of (bad) ideas in order to find just a few great ones—something Seth Godin is a fan of:
Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, “none.”
These tips are handy, but I’ve found that my environment makes a big difference to how productive I am, and how easily I can brainstorm new, creative ideas.
It turns out, environmental factors like noise levels, temperature and lighting can make a big difference to how creative we are. Here’s what the research says about setting up your environment for optimal levels of creativity.