Ideas every lap

11 Jun

Creativity is a tough thing to pin down.  Ideas can come out of nowhere, swinging at your head, in the shower, the car, or especially while exercising.  Why is this the case?  You need to create the right environment for it.

We at Drawing Down the Vision are not brain surgeons, but through the course of our research, we have learned about how the brain can get into the mode of thinking that causes creative thought to occur.  Some call it right-brain thinking, others might refer to it as the zone or flow.  Whatever you call it, it’s very different from the linear day to day thinking that most people are familiar with.

Back in Ancient Greece, philosopher Aristotle developed the Peripatetic school where thinkers gathered to ponder questions of the day.  While lecturing, Aristotle would walk around, always on the move. His students would follow.  It has been theorized that the very act of walking contributed to Aristotle’s generation of new ideas and today we refer to this phenomenon as peripatetic thinking.  Thinking while on the go.

There is a wonderful series of books on the creative process called The Artist’s Way, written by Julia Cameron.  Her books have given many beginning artists a place to start and have provided seasoned artist’s some guidance to keep at it, even when ideas seem to run out.  One key tenet in the process she suggests is the idea of taking a long walk everyday, very much like Aristotle and his followers did.  Personally, I take this a step further and go for a run.

The effects of peripatetics, combined with a healthy dose of exercise-induced-endorphins sets me up to become an idea factory for an hour or so.  It’s intense. I love it.  3 or 4 times a week I put on my running shoes, grab a portable pen and paper and hit the road (or when it’s stormy, the indoor track).  During these times I am often flooded with little snippets of ideas that I capture on the pen and paper to sift through more thoroughly later in my sketchbook.  A good friend of mine calls these little ideas butterflies.  A small notebook is your butterfly catcher.

If a run or a walk is not in the stars for you today, the peripatetic phenomenon is still yours to embrace.  Through the simple act of putting a pen to paper to record some thoughts or better yet, making a drawing is a direct and physical way to tap that right-brained approach to thinking and get ideas flowing.

So get out there, and start racing your body and mind with running shoes or pen and paper. Don’t get frustrated over a problem, get away from it, change your perspective, and come back refreshed. Then take the single best idea, and make it real.

Enjoy! And share your experience!

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