Creativity and rest

Oct 13, 2023 | Creativity

“Show Notes”

Marcus takes us back to episode 12 and reminds us about the 5 Rs of creativity

  • Rules
  • Research
  • Reflection
  • Repetition
  • Rest

Today Marcus is going to talk more about the subject of rest.

Marcus has been looking at the latest research into creativity. According to the
research your brain works in two different modes

  1. “Default Mode Network”
    When you are not really thinking about anything. When you do something by habit.
    Like having a shower in the morning, or driving your car and you arrived without
    knowing how you got there. It is when your thoughts are going inwards
  2. “Executive Control Network”

This is when you are really in the zone and doing focused activity.

Its been discovered that the Default mode network is linked
to creativity.

Taking the time

When Marcus wants to think about ideas he sits down in the evening with a glass
of wine. Sam suggests then that meditation should be part of this process, which
Marcus agrees with. It’s important to find that quiet space, and think about nothing
and let the ideas come to you. It’s crucial this is in a quite space with nothing else going on.

Notebook
Marcus recommends always having a notebook to hand to write down your ideas
as they come to you. But also Marcus says as you get better at getting creativeleas you can also train your brain to remember these ideas.
How to start

For Marcus he says about 8pm he sits in quiet with a glass of wine and just sits, and
thinks. And the more you try this the easier it becomes. There is lots of meditation
help online, both in terms of techniques and calming sound tracks. Marcus
recommends doing this every day. Finding that time can be very challenging. But it
worth that effort. For some people the day time is a better time, when the house
quiet. It’s important to try and schedule that
quiet time into your day.

Long term

This is a long term process and it will take time to get better at this. There is a great
Netflix documentary about this.

“Show Transcription”

Sam: Hi, Marcus.

Marcus: Well, hello, Sam. How are you?

Sam: Very, very good, and you?

Mracus:  Yeah, I’m perfect, thank you. Very good. Back from your holidays, all jet lag over and feet firmly back on the ground. But I had a mental holiday. I went to Burning Man, Sam, which was such a creative festival. It was unbelievable. Off the scale, so much creativity.

Sam: Cool. And I believe you’ve got a bit of atopic kind of linked to that for us today.

Marcus: Indeed I have, Sam. Do you remember back in episode twelve, it was I was talking about creativity and how to be more creative, not just for photographers, but certainly and I talked about the five R’s of creativity rules, research, reflection, repetition, and rest? Well, I promised that I would delve a bit deeper into some of those subjects. And so that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m going to talk about the subject of rest, which is obviously something very close to our hearts.

Sam:  It is. So I’m going to go off and have a nap. You can talk. I’m getting my sort of that done.

Marcus: Have your nap, Sam, and with my advice, you’re going to come back even more creative.

Sam: Excellent. Right, Marcus, what are we going to find out, then?

Marcus:  Okay, so this is based on the latest research, very recent research, actually, creativity. People used to look at your brain and say that people were either left or right-brained, and that would be how creative you were. Well, that’s proven to be not true at all. Your brain, the left and right-hand sides work together, but they work in two different modes. Now, obviously, this is really deep neuroscience, and I am certainly no neuroscientist, so excuse me if it might seem a little bit what’s the word. In cohesive. But I’m going to go for it anyhow, and hopefully, our listeners will find this interesting. So the brain is active in two different ways. The first way is called the Default Mode Network, which is a very fancy title for saying that when you’re basically not really thinking of anything, you’re doing things by route, by route now, like when you have a shower in the mornings. Your Default Mode Network is engaged when you’re driving your car. You know, when you drive your car sometimes, Sam, and you don’t remember the yeah,

Sam: that’s I know that a lot. The children complained about where we turned up because it wasn’t where we were supposed to turn up.

Marcus:  I didn’t really mean that, but okay, we’ll go with that anyhow. Yeah, we’ll go with that anyhow. Also, just before you go to sleep at night is when your Default Mode Network is engaged. It’s basically when your thoughts are going inwards that is opposed to your let me get this. Why I am reading this? Your executive control network, which is when you’re really thinking about doing things and all your neurons are firing and you’re really in the zone and you’re really doing some kind of activity that is productive or there’s an outcome, let’s just say. So the bit that we’re interested in is the Default Mode Network for short, the DMN. Now, this research I said is very recent. In fact, it’s only in the last 20 years that they’ve discovered that this Default Mode Network is linked to creativity. I’ve noticed it myself. For example, if I just sit down and relax at nighttime over a glass of wine or whatever, that can help. And that’s the official guidelines. It really helps me come up with creative ideas. If I’ve got problems to solve, maybe, or I’ve got a photo shoot coming up, or a brand shoot, and I want to think of some ideas for it, I sit down quietly, and that is the crucial part of this. Quietly and engage my default mode network.

Sam:  Almost like Marcus. You’re meditating. So you’re saying photographers, part of your kit should be your camera, your tripod on your yoga mat, and off to yoga to help develop your creative process.

Marcus: I love it. Sam exactly. Meditation is part of this process. Now, it all sounds fairly obvious. But really, how often in this busy world do we allow ourselves time out just to think?

Sam: Yeah, good point. Unless you do yoga, which I did this morning. So maybe I did then.

Marcus:  But you do yoga.

Sam: I try.

Marcus: I try as well, yes. I like yoga.

Sam:  No. So perhaps you’d have a whole podcast about yoga. So the idea is to kind of find a quiet space when you’ve not got all the things about what’s for dinner and what are the kids doing next and where am I supposed to be driving, and just take a bit of time to go. Right, I’m just going to sit relaxed. And then is the idea we’re going to think about one thing in particular or kind of think about nothing?

Marcus: Think about nothing. Sam exactly. You just let the ideas come to you. And the more often you do this, the easier it becomes. But it’s crucial. It needs to be in a quiet space and with your brain almost switched off. Maybe I’m lucky that I can allow time for myself to do that, but it’s part of my practice, it works for me and it will work for our listeners out there as well.

Sam:  Okay, so, I mean, that is basically meditation, then. So you’re saying meditation, you think, will really help with that creative process? I’m just now imagining somebody, like, in the middle of a wedding and the whole wedding has gone and the bride’s brothers want some of them. There’s this photographer, just like with his yoga mat out, sort of going in the middle of the wedding, having time out, each to their own might reduce your stress levels in the middle of the wedding.

Marcus: Exactly. When I think about it, when I teach my students especially beginners about taking photographs, they always struggle to get going. And I always say to them, look, just take one photograph and then the others will follow. And you get into this like this zone, this meditative, as you say, zone, where basically you started and you just can’t stop. And it’s a really fulfilling process. I notice the same when I’m playing my bass guitar as well. If I just pick up for a minute, that minute soon develops into an hour and beyond.

Sam: And with the music, I don’t know if other people, for instance, with the music, if you know how to play something, you do get into that meditative state if you’re playing it. And then almost actually, if you activate your main brain, you often get lost because you start to overthink and you’re thinking, what am I playing next? You actually don’t know because your fingers just will naturally play it. And if you think too hard, you go you’ve lost it while you daydream and play it to your art’s content.

Marcus: Exactly. It’s obvious this is your subconscious taking over. So as soon as you start thinking about technique or anything like that, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to basically just go and just let the ideas come into you. Now, a good idea is to have a notebook at hand when this process is taking place, especially in the early days, so you can write them down by my bed. When I was learning photography, I was at university, I always used to have a notebook and I’d write down my ideas that would just come to me in a flash because I’d forget them. But as you become better at doing this, you start to engage your executive control network. And so you start to remember and you start to filter out these ideas and your focus becomes more focused. For want of a better way of looking at it, your ideas become more focused.

Sam: Let’s talk practicality. So let’s say we want to start thinking about this. How do we start? Do we try and find like five minutes of quiet in the day and do that once a week? Once a day, we’ll kind of practically let’s talk through what would be a good way to start.

Marcus:  Yeah, I think that’s a great question, Sam. I can only talk about myself and what works for me. And that’s basically about 8 o’clock work is done, the phone’s off, a glass of wine to sit down, TV’s, nothing’s going on. And I just have a little sip or whatever, and I just sit there and it comes to me and it’s an indulgence you feel. God, this is a real indulgence. But that’s the way you do it. I mean, obviously, I talked earlier about your getaway in the shower and that’s great as well.

Sam: The notebook gets wet in the shower, though.

Marcus: That’s exactly no train I recommend for our listeners out there to do it on a regular basis, thereby training your brain to not only think of these creative ideas or to open yourself up to creativity, but also to engage the avid part of your brain so these ideas become clarified.

Sam: That makes sense. So how often are you thinking? So let’s say we’ve managed to say, right, this evening, right, my wife’s busy doing her, she gone out with some friends, the kids are in bed, right, okay. So I’ve got some quiet time. I’m going to put aside five yes. And probably the first time all that’s going to happen is lots of crazy ideas. And when you next get needed, the washing out, the machine is going to pop into your head and then the idea is over time, you need to quiet and those down. And there’s tons and tons of help with this. There’s tons of meditation stuff online, there’s a load of resources, calming music, whatever you want to kind of help you with this. And then how often are you thinking? Like once a week? Every day, once a month?

Marcus: I do every day, Sam. Every day, you know, every night, I should say, because obviously, you get ideas in a day. But at times, in that quietness, that stillness, and in that solitary environment, I have to stress that you need to be on your own.

Sam: It’s not very easy to find that space in a day. And I guess it doesn’t have to be regular. Doesn’t it? Doesn’t have to be every day. You can go, right, okay, so these days I’ve got some quiet there. But then most photographers are self-employed, so often people will have, during the day, gone to work, gone to school. So there should be it might not be for everybody that the evening is the right time. It might be, right, well, I’m going to do it while the kids are at school because that’s quiet time. So I’m going to say, right at 02:00, before the chaos starts and rolls back, I’m going to spend just ten minutes, moving out of the office, moving away from the camera, whatever, sitting down on the sofa, chilling, maybe not start on the wine, then maybe do.

Marcus:  Yeah, I do every day. Because that’s part of my practice and that’s what I do. And I’ve come up with ideas. But certainly, I think in this very busy world, it’s very easy just to not allow yourself to do that kind of thing.  And I think people would be surprised just by sitting down and being quiet as possible. These ideas will come. And as I was saying earlier, studies have shown that the more creative people are able to access these two different sides of their brain. So you have the default mode and you get the ideas, but also your executive control comes into play as well. So you can filter out those ideas and remember them as well and act on them.

Sam:  So then you don’t even need the notebook, then?

Marcus: I don’t use the notebook. I might forget some things and it’s gone, I never know. But I do seem to remember quite effectively the ideas that I have. It surprises me. It’s like oh, wow. Okay. And I act upon them and it works.

Sam: There we go. So the key is to start. Small. Start what? Five minutes is probably enough, isn’t it? Five minutes will seem like an awfully long time, especially the first time. And it might be that over time, you can build it long. But I think the key isn’t it finding that time which works in you and your day, which for some people, they’ve got quite a lot of choice. For other people, there’s chaos going around the house or their studio. Hard to find that time, but try to find that time, and work it into your day. When does make sense? When could it be in a quiet place? Maybe not in the car. If you’re driving some of that’s not so good because you’ve got to focus on the road. But yeah, when is that place? When you can be on your own, you can focus, you can have a little bit of peace. Marcus recommends a wine bar. Yeah, we’ll see about the time of day. Brilliant.

Marcus: Yeah.

Sam:  Build over time. That creativity. But not long.

Marcus:  As with all creative things, this is a long-term process. I was just thinking then we were talking, it sort of reminds me a little bit that if you lose your keys, sometimes you just forget about it and you find them.

Sam: Yeah.

Marcus: Does that happen to you? It happens to me quite a bit.

Sam:  I usually have to go and find them because I need to. Usually, if I’ve lost my keys, I need to go somewhere. So I just keep looking till I find them. But if you forget eventually what trousers was I wearing yesterday? There they are.

Marcus:  All right, okay. But my point is, it’s tapping into your subconscious. Okay. Yeah. So there we go. Look, obviously on the Internet, even though it is very new, research in the last 20 years, as I said earlier. But there is stuff out there. There’s a great Netflix documentary all about how your mind works, where I first found out about it, and I’ll put the links in the notes and all that kind of thing. But yes, allow yourself if you want to be creative, allow yourself. Time to think. Easier said than done.

Sam: Brilliant. Perfect. Thank you, Marcus. Amazing. And then for all our newsletter listeners, the newsletter receivers, subscribers. I’ll get the right word eventually. News for all our newsletter subscribers, there’s bonus content, so they will get a bit of a longer podcast and they’ll get a chance to sort of give us some ideas about what to put in the show. They get blasts from the past episodes and all sorts more. So to subscribe to the newsletters, go web to websitesforphotographers.Co /UK is with the number four podcast and sign up the podcast and other exciting stuff will appear in your inbox so you won’t miss an episode. Thank you, Marcus, that was really interesting. I am now going to go and sit cross-legged on my yoga mat and think deep thoughts and I will see you next week.

Marcus:  Sorry, what were you saying? I was in deep thought then. Sam. Just kidding. Goodbye, see you next week.