Make Writing Easy: Leverage Your Brain’s Default Mode Network

Is writing hard for you? If you want to make writing easy, you need to stop struggling.

Seriously.

Your brain will happily help you to write, because it naturally uses its Default Mode Network (DMN) whenever it can. You can leverage the DMN to make writing easy.

So, what’s the brain’s Default Mode Network? Basically, it’s what your brain does when it’s not doing anything else: when you’re not paying attention to anything specific, or doing a task which requires you to pay close attention.

From The Creative Brain is Wired Differently:

The default mode network… is involved in memory and mental simulation, so the theory is that it plays an important role in processes like mind-wandering, imagination, and spontaneous thinking.

This is amazing news. When you stop struggling, your brain idles. However, it’s anything but idle… It defaults into a creative-thinking process which uses memory and imagination.

Nice. But how does this help you to make writing easy?

Want to make writing easy? Stop trying so hard

Most writers struggle too hard to write well.

With my writing students, my favorite comment tends to be: “you’re over-thinking this.” When students let themselves go, and write, not only do they write well, but writing is easy for them.

Your brain’s thinking anyway.

Let it do what it does.

From I Imagine, Therefore I Am: The Default Mode Network and Fiction:

A network in the brain was discovered that became more active when there was no direct task and the mind was “at rest.” … It turned out the human mind was thinking all the time, whether we knew it or not.

Since your brain’s thinking anyway, when you struggle to write, you’re metaphorically pressing your mental accelerator and brake at the same time. Writing seems hard, because you’re getting in your own way.

Tips to use your brain’s Default Mode Network to make writing easy

If you want to make writing easy, you need to stop turning the writing process into a battle.

Let’s look at some tips to help.

1. Daydream more: it’s not laziness—you’re allowing space for creativity

Everyone’s busy today; you may have a couple of jobs to make ends meet. But chances are you’ve got an hour or so a day you’re “relaxing.” You spend time on social media, play video games, or read.

How much time do you spend in idleness? Do you daydream? Paradoxically, daydreaming (musing) may be the best thing you can do to make writing easy.

Leave yourself time each day just to do nothing. You’re not wasting time: your Default Mode Network is active, and creative.

2. Tap into your DMN: write spontaneously, without expectation

Creativity guru Julia Cameron promotes spontaneous writing, with her morning pages:

… three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning… they are not high art. They are not even “writing.”

Thousands of authors and other creative people swear by the morning pages process. It’s a form of freewriting. Whenever I get stuck on a project, or feel anxious about it, I free write. Sometimes my aim with freewriting is to generate text, but mostly I think of it as kickstarting my brain.

Try using daydreaming and freewriting together. Muse for a few minutes, then free write for five minutes. I recommended this process, and writers have found it helpful to make writing easy.

3. Use time and the DMN: a simple, but powerful, prewriting process

Years ago I began using a simple prewriting process: I wrote a few sentences about a commission as soon as I received it. I quickly noticed that this short prewriting process, which took just five to ten minutes, paid off amazingly well.

A day or a week later, when it was time to work on the project, I was eager to write. Moreover, I seemed to be more creative; the writing was easier.

Make writing easy: relax, daydream and write

If you want to make writing easy… It’s as easy as you allow it to be.

Relax. Daydream more.

Vital: try spontaneous writing.


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