How to awaken your creativity through physical exertion

Why moving your bod leads to a flood of creative thoughts

by Jonas Ellison

I’ve read a lot of books on writing, advertising, and creativity in general. There’s one common thread that runs through most of them — movement. It’s a highly suggested power tool to creativity.

Creative people just seem to like to get out and move. Some like to run, hike or lift weights. Either way, moving your body seems to lead to bursts of creativity.

I can attest. It’s helped me, for sure. I always put Rory in the backpack and we go for quick 1–2 mile walks around the neighborhood. They’re enjoyable. They provide us with fresh air. And she likes seeing all the dogs that are out being walked. Good stuff.

But lately, I’ve been kicking up the intensity. I’ve extended the walks to 3 miles. And soon, hopefully, 4, 5, and more. We’ll probably start going on more uphill hikes as well.

I even got the Nike+ running app where I record my times. I can’t run with her back there (and she hates her jogging stroller right now — always wants to get out and chase birds), so fast walking is what I’m limited to for now.

But I’ve noticed that the more intense our walks get, the better ideas I get. I don’t just walk for enjoyment anymore. I try to make it as hard on myself as I can.

Tell your asshole brother to shut his face.

Author and creativity coach Julia Cameron often talks about two parts of our brain.

One part of the brain, she calls our ‘logic brain’. This is the survival-based, fight-or-flight, reptilian brain that we’ve had since the stone age. It’s sole purpose is to keep us safe and to procreate. To keep the human race alive. Pretty much it.

As we humans evolved, we grew a bigger and bigger frontal cortex (forgive me, I’m no evolutionary biologist, but you get my drift). This is what Cameron refers to as the ‘artist brain’. It wants nothing but to play and create.

The ‘artist brain’ wants to be free, but its overly protective asshole older brother, the ‘logic brain’, constantly tells it to shut up and get a job.

This inner battle between the ‘logic brain’ and the ‘artist brain’ rages on 24/7.

Ever have that intuitive hit that says you should write the next great novel? That’s your ‘artist brain’. Then, do you hear that nagging voice that pops up and tells you you’re stupid for even thinking about that and asks you how are you going to make money doing that. That’s the ‘logic brain’.

Most of us listen to the ‘logic brain’. It’s just so… Intimidating. And sensible. It’s why we work at the same low (but steady) paying job for years and years without ever doing the thing we love.

Get your ass in gear and move

Well, strenuous physical activity is the key to shutting your asshole brother — the ‘logic brain’ — up. Allow me to explain…

When our bodies are in an active state, the ‘logic brain’ immediately kicks in and goes on watch. We’re moving fast, we have a toddler strapped to our back (or is that just me?) there’s a cliff, there’s a car backing out — whatever. We’re constantly somewhat in danger.

So the ‘logic brain’ is occupied with this apparent danger. We’ve put it to work doing what it does best — keeping us alive. Instead of butting in where it has no place — like ‘coaching’ us about our art and career choices — it’s doing its thing by making sure we don’t roll our ankle. Good boy.

When the ‘logic brain’ is occupied like this, our inner-child, erm, ‘creative brain’, can come out and play. Freely.

If you just train your psyche to open up to it, and to be on the lookout (creative hits often come as flashes of brilliance that are here one second and gone the next), it’s amazing what we can come up with.

So go. Run. Swim. Hike. Lift. Move your bod. And bring a notebook. Cuz you’ll want to take note of what comes out.

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