The mortal enemy of creativity is entertainment

According to J.P. McEvoy

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming.

Recently there has been a flurry of articles about the importance of daydreaming.  A few examples: 1234

According to Jonah Lehrer

Children in school are encouraged to stop daydreaming and “focus,” and wandering minds are often cited as a leading cause of traffic accidents. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, daydreaming is derided as a lazy habit or a lack of discipline, the kind of thinking we rely on when we don’t really want to think. It’s a sign of procrastination, not productivity, something to be put away with your flip-flops and hammock as summer draws to a close.

In recent years, however, scientists have begun to see the act of daydreaming very differently. They’ve demonstrated that daydreaming is a fundamental feature of the human mind – so fundamental, in fact, that it’s often referred to as our “default” mode of thought. Many scientists argue that daydreaming is a crucial tool for creativity, a thought process that allows the brain to make new associations and connections.

What’s the most effective way to let your mind wander? How about letting your body wander, too? According to Adam Khan

On a walk, you get a fresh perspective; you can find solutions to problems; you look at things more clearly. You become calmer, saner and healthier. It’s easier to think because, 1) you have the time to think, 2) there’s nothing else you need to attend to, and 3) your brain is getting more oxygen.

What’s the biggest enemy of daydreaming, of your mind floating free, of a “chainless Mind”? Entrainment, especially entertainment. When your brain is entranced by TV, radio, video games, or the web, it’s strapped into somebody else’s passenger seat.

If people daydream less than they used to, the major culprit is not the demand by teachers and employers for “focus”, but instead the unnatural pool of entrainment/entertainment we soak in.

Daydreaming is essential for creativity, but most people don’t daydream enough, because they are entrained by the products of other people’s creativity.

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  1. Great post, Brad:
    And how much more difficult will that be in a completely mobile world, where the distraction is always in our hands or pockets?
    I sat down last night to write a blog post long hand with a fountain pen to force myself away from the distractions of the laptop. The jury’s out on whether that’s the way to go (it would be with a surfeit of time) but it’s more relaxing to be sure.


    • Yes, a half-hour with a pad and pencil can be more productive than a day with a laptop. (I’ve never used a fountain pen.)

      Check out the method of Georges Simeon.


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