On Lateral Action, Brian Cormack Carr explores the effect of disturbed slumber on his blog, using inspiration from writer Dorothea Brande. A counter intuitive idea: By waking up just 30 minutes early and jumping right into the work, we can block our mental editor from hindering the idea-generating process. Carr writes:
By jolting oneself awake earlier than usual, Brande contended, the creative juices could flow without the editor being awake enough to interfere with things. Quite why the editor would find it harder to struggle to wakefulness was never fully explained – but Ms. Brande obviously believed this to be the case, and my own experience seems to bear her out…
I think the same can be said of any creative thought we expect ourselves to generate. In this world of practicalities and problems, perhaps it’s natural to protect ourselves by keeping a weather eye on all the things that might go wrong and stop us. However, when we start giving undue credence to those possible limitations, we stop ourselves from fully exploring all the options that are available to us.
When we’re awake and alert our brains have ample time to enable our internal editor to interfere in our thought process, as Carr explains. That mental editor easily convinces us that our ideas need to be tweaked, adapted, or thrown away, before we’ve had time to fully explore them. By waking up just 30 minutes early and jumping right into your work, you don’t give that mental editor a chance to wake up and intervene.
Of course, this is great for generating and pursuing creative ideas, but not so much for being productive or working on detail-oriented projects. For those instances, you’re going to want to get more sleep.