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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Nothing Beats the Power of Nothing


In a previous post I suggested that sometimes the best thing to is nothing.

I have new evidence for the power of “doing nothing.” Studies show that when rats experience something new, their brains create new patterns of activity. Nothing unexpected there, but here’s the kicker: to create a long-term memory, in other words, to really learn from the experience, the rats must take a break. Apparently learning, both for rats and humans, happens not so much in the moment of the experience as in the rehearsing and reinforcing of the new neural patterns that occur after the experience.

The New York Times quoted Loren Frank, Assistant Professor of Physiology at the University of California who specializes in learning and memory, “Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories.” Frank believes that when you constantly stimulate your brain, “you prevent this learning process.”

So in honor of the power of doing nothing and to give my brain and yours some much needed downtime, let’s all go do nothing for awhile.

What are you waiting for? Go do nothing for as long as you can stand it. And then do it for another couple of minutes just to see what happens.

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