As promised, I’m sharing some of my thoughts so far on “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long” by David Rock. So far, I can say that this book has already given me some ideas and shifted my perspective a bit on how to work smarter, not only when writing my WIP and doing freelance work, but for how I plan my days and how to handle fanfiction projects.
After reading the first bit of the book, an idea for an old project I got stuck on came to me. I paused in my reading and went, “Wow, that could turn into something great.” I decided to re-read what I have so far and start working on it from this new angle. I took a break from my other WIP for reasons I’ll explain in my next Tuesday Talk post.
“Your Brain” really goes into some of the science behind our brains and how best to plan and think to be productive longer and more effectively. I took a psychology class in high school and the introductory course in college, so at one point in time I knew some things about the human brain. But, as with all kinds of information, when you don’t consistently use it little facts and scholarly studies slip my mind.
One thing that stuck out to me was Rock’s discussion on the pre-frontal cortex. Although it’s the smallest part of our brain it’s pretty much the most important. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for humans’ ability to make decisions. The cortex “chews up metabolic fuel, such as glucose and oxygen faster than people realize.” This concept makes me think of all the people who don’t eat breakfast in the morning. For me, it’s the first thing I do because otherwise, I’m grumpy and unfocused. Rock’s information emphasized the importance of fueling yourself. How do those people make it through the day before lunch?
Another thing that stuck out to me in the first part of the book is the fact that studies have shown that when we have to compare items, the optimal number of items is two. More than that and we can’t make effective comparisons. For writers, we make decisions about our work constantly. From word choice to character names and when to stop a chapter. Some of us will have five different ideas about how we want a scene to turn out. Now, I know why I feel like quitting sometimes when I’m not sure where to take a scene. I’m trying to compare too many options.
Fuel your brain and minimize how much you try and make your brain think about and handle at one time.
What are you reading?