I read an interesting article in the May 2017 issue of National Geographic about how the brain works regarding creativity. As a people, we’ve tried to understand creativity for years. Can’t see it, can’t touch it, but it – whatever “it” is – is definitely there.
Nat Geo reports another scientific attempt to understand the creative process.
Researchers managed to record brain waves in an MRI while jazz musicians played music that was memorized and then music that was improvised. They learned that for the improv, the brain activity was “fundamentally different” and that it appeared the brain was able to turn off its own ability to criticize itself.
I find this fascinating because, I’ve learned the same thing from leading a creative life, and share as much in my new teen filmmaking book (“Write! Shoot! Edit!”) coming out this July. I believe it’s important to understand the creative process so you can better harness your creativity.
Though it appears the researchers break the creative process into two types of activities (in this case playing improv vs playing memorized music), through my experience, I believe the creative process breaks down into three stages:
(1) wild invention (the improv, free-creative activity)
(2) structural edit (a big picture activity where you work with historical conventions)
(3) nit-picky edit (a fine-tuning activity where details and consistency matters)
Each one of these stages needs its time at centre stage, its time of focus, so if it’s a writing project, you’ll have to write the project at least three times to focus your brain’s perspective for each draft.
I’d love to see an MRI scan of differing brain activity for each of these three phases of the creative process, as I believe each one taps into a different skills in the brain… but I guess we’ll have to wait for science to explore that idea someday.
For those living the creative life, what’s your perspective on the activity happening in your brain while you’re creating?
All the best of creativity to you,
For more info on my new book “Write! Shoot! Edit!” see my website’s book page.
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Deb Patz is the author of “Film Production Management 101” and the upcoming “Write! Shoot! Edit! A Complete Guide to Filmmaking for Teens” both published by MWP Books. She’s lived a creative life for… uh… all her life!
WHERE IS DEB? (upcoming events and appearances)
Jun.3-7 – Guest instructor – PEI Screenwriter’s Bootcamp, Charlottetown, PEI
Jun.24 – Book launch party for “Write! Shoot! Edit!” at Chapters Pinetree, Coquitlam, BC
Jul.30-Aug.3 – UFVA Conference, Los Angeles, CA