In Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life, Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson describes the two brain states we need to call on if we are to successfully create something from start to finish.
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  1. The Spontaneous Pathway uses posterior portions of the brain to direct insight, idea germination, inspiration and free association through our creative intelligence. We’re in this brain state when we defocus our attention and address a challenge in let’s-sleep-on-it mode.
  2. The Deliberate Pathway uses the prefrontal cortex, the most frontal portion the brain, and directs what I call rational intelligence –  our analysing,  classifying, planning, reasoning. We’re in this brain state when we deliberately address a challenge in problem-solving mode.

To do our creative best, our first task is to understand which brain state is most fitting for the job in hand.

School and workplaces spend a lot of time emphasising the deliberate pathway so many of us overuse it.

While you can probably squeeze out some creativity by sitting at your desk in front of a blank page, anxiously willing yourself to ‘work’, it’s a creative fact that you’ll have more inspired results through snoozing, daydreaming, taking a mental or physical ‘wander’ or meditating.

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