Regular Downtime for the Brain is a Must

Hit the snooze button routinely or lose your bite eventually

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The hyperactive mind of a writer is like a cauldron of ideas. They gently simmer and continue to simmer until these ideas bubble up the surface and the flavor decocted into words.

This creative’s activity could simmer everywhere in the house:

  • in the kitchen while brewing coffee or tea or poaching an egg,
  • in the shower as the body is braised with balsam-smelling soapy cream,
  • or in the toilet while pondering on a scorching finish to a murder fiction awaiting conclusion on the laptop screen.

But the brain has to have a routinary downtime. It needs to recharge. An energized brain leads to more productivity, encourages focus and boosts even more doses of creativity.

A writer, especially one with hyper creativity, should take a breather as part of the daily routine, away from this nonstop onslaught of fermenting ideas and plots.

The power of sleep

Sleep, as everyone knows, recharges the brain.

But busy writers and busy everybody have a penchant for scrimping on sleep. I know this myself for there was a time – a long time actually – when I lived on a few hours’ sleep, for years. Deadlines must be met, or I’d be toast.

And then I came across this article on Psychology Today (highlight below is mine)–

“If you want your brain to work well you first want to know how your brain works. Hint – it’s not a machine. It is a living, wondrously inventive, rapidly renewing organ. You see your hair grow, your nails grow, but do you see your brain grow? That’s what your brain does during rest, your body’s rebuild and renew program. To get your brain to work better, here’s rule #1 – rest for success.”
-Dr. Matthew J. Edlund

Who wouldn’t panic when we are informed that our brain might atrophy when not enough snooze time is provided for it?

And who would not embrace being mindful of getting enough sleep once we’ve been made aware that a lack of brain rest could eventually result in losing our bite, our verve and strength in what we do best?

Power naps just as essential

But just as important as 7- to 8-hour sleep is giving our brain a rest during our waking hours. According to Carrie Dennett, a 10-minute nap, especially between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the brain is most predisposed to a second snooze, would be best.

Try not to make your naps last longer, like half an hour. It could result in post-nap grogginess, and would take a few hours to get rid of this groggy feeling. A 10-minute nap, on the other hand, does not produce grogginess; instead, it would enhance productivity and further sharpen your focus.

Other ways to give a writer’s brain a rest during waking hours comprise of simple, easy-to-do activities which include:

  • Having a cup of coffee (or tea) away from your computer screen or other mobile gadget
  • Taking a 20-minute nature walk
  • Meditating, if you’re into meditation
  • Walking your dog (if you have one, or two, or three)
  • Talking to your indoor plants if you have any, but you should have some
  • Listening to your favorite music; the type that relaxes the mind is best
  • Looking out at the window, staring at the sky to try to predict the weather if you’re so inclined
  • Putting your mobile gadgets on silent mode during power naps and brain-rest mode

In other words, engage in an activity that others may consider as being idle.

Nothing wrong in putting the mind on idle

For the usual busy writer with an even busier brain, there is nothing wrong in an idling mind.

As Tim Kreider wrote in his essay published in The New York Times:

“Idleness is not just a vacation… it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for …  it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
-Tim Kreider, author of We Learn Nothing

So let us hit the snooze button with cheer, put the brain on idle mode, and make this a part of our routine.

Let’s give our brain regular downtime, and return to whatever writing project we are working on with sharper focus and richer flow of creative juice.

Thank you very much for reading!

I’d love to connect with you.
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