Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mental clutter and creativity

Prof. Moshe Bar penned a brief piece for the New York Times whose thrust is that our brains are overloaded with stray thinking. His recent research finds
... the capacity for original and creative thinking is markedly stymied by stray thoughts, obsessive ruminations and other forms of “mental load.”

...

... our findings suggest that innovative thinking, not routine ideation, is our default cognitive mode when our minds are clear.

His research has implications for everyone, but I'm particularly interested in what it means for voiceover talents. To be as free and creative as possible, you have to leave the rest of the day behind when you belly up to the mic. Sometimes we even tell ourselves (or at least inexperienced talents do this) that a given script doesn't really need our fullest attention, that we can wing it. 'Tain't so, and it would be helpful to cultivate meditation or some other practice that clears our minds. As Bar puts it:
Except when you are flying an F-16 aircraft or experiencing extreme fear or having an orgasm, your life leaves too much room for your mind to wander. As a result, only a small fraction of your mental capacity remains engaged in what is before it, and mind-wandering and ruminations become a tax on the quality of your life.

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