The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a portal as a door or entrance which is large or imposing. I’m sure they’re referring to a physical structure but there’s a metaphorical meaning, too. What if the ‘portal’ or ‘gateway’ to our subconscious mind and the richness of our imagination could be accessed by re-setting our brainwaves?
Apparently, Sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) (12.5-15 Hz) is the brainwave associated with creativity, innovation and being ‘in the zone’. The problem is, for many writers, we get stuck in the High Beta (20-28 Hz) state which is associated with hyper-vigilance and fear. The Beta brainwave however, employs slightly less brain activity (16.5–20 Hz) and helps to facilitate problem-solving and concentration.
So, how do we get ourselves from a hyper-vigilant, super anxious state to a calmer, more creative one? According to an article on neuroscience and writer’s block, participating in sensory activities can help. This may include walking the dog, pulling out weeds, dancing to music, using essential oils or even employing a friend or mentor to help stimulate ideas.
And this makes sense (pardon the pun) in many ways, since I’m inundated with ideas while out in nature. I’ve also had ideas pop into my head while practising Chi gung, hanging out washing or cooking dinner. Sometimes, watching Netflix or YouTube has helped me get started, and I can almost feel my brainwaves getting slower and slower.
So, back to the portal. Aside from all the pre-writing activities we can do in order to put ourselves in a more creative and receptive mood, I’ve always found that ‘just getting started’ really helps. If I have the courage to start, ideas come to me that would never have graced me with their presence if I hadn’t already put pen to paper. Oh, and the power of procrastination is phenomenal! If you just get started, then go and make yourself a coffee or do the dishes, your subconscious mind will start doing the heavy-lifting.
Even if you leave it a couple of days, you’ll be amazed at the ideas that spring into your head! I carry a little notebook with me so that I don’t get caught out, but I also favour the post-it note and the margins of my local newspaper. You may prefer to use your phone or other device, but I’m pretty old-school myself! There’s also a great Ted Talk on the power of procrastination which discusses non-linear, subconscious thinking as opposed to the more linear, conscious thought-processes, which I’ll post here.
In addition, I’ve just completed my second entry for the Furious fiction short-story competition, so wish me luck! This time, I found the parameters particularly challenging, so I discussed them with someone and found that ideas flowed from there. I was also unsure of how to get my protagonist from Point A to Point B, but as I continued to write, the setting (an antiquarian book shop) revealed its secrets.