This might be a personal idiosyncrasy, but I bet I’m not the only one it applies to. When I don’t spend some regular time reading, I start feeling drained of creative ideas. And I’m not talking about spending some time reading articles on the web, I’m talking about sitting down with an actual physical book and doing some good old fashioned reading.
I suppose this makes sense. If you are constantly trying to produce using the creative part of your brain you need to be feeding it new stuff, but I suspect that the effect goes well beyond just having some new ideas to think about. Reading (at least for me) seems to trigger new ideas about totally different subjects. So spending some time reading about biology helps me come up with ideas for articles here at this blog.
My guess is that when we read new material, our brains fire off connections that haven’t been fired before. When we approach other problems, the previous exercise helps us make new and different connections–even when it isn’t at all related to the material we were reading.
So my strategy for dealing with a feeling like I have no more ideas is to spend some time reading a good book and some time exercising. Does this seem to work for anyone else besides me?
Andre Chmielewski says
Sounds pretty copasetic, but the question for me remains: how do I find the time to get reading done?
It’s hard to find the time or energy in a busy schedule to read. Any ideas?
Great Post. It is always better to have more input than output–that way your ideas are sharper, more focused, and original.
Mark Shead says
@Andre – Reading is just like anything else, you have to make the time. For many people, cutting out television is a great way to get some extra time reading. Another option is to listen to audio books during your commute. I find I do best if I schedule time for reading and stick with it. For a lot of people reading for a while in bed is a good option as it helps them wind down and relax.