Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Ideas happen ‘outside’ – it’s scientifically proven

Anyone following my blog knows I’m at the ‘ideas’ stage of my next novel. While I was rummaging around in a blog by Nicola Morgan (very interesting – do take a look), I came across something rather startling about the whole concept of ‘going for a walk and the ideas will come.’ Did you know there was scientific/physiological proof it actually works?

More about that in a moment. Some context first.

Our cat, Tigsey, catching some Spring sunshine
It’s that time of year when I’m itching to get in the garden to help it along. I love cutting back and tidying, so that you can see each individual plant and nothings starts to run amok or take over. Last week was the back-breaking ‘mulch’ – gouging compost out of the green plastic tub and scattering it around the stems of all the shrubs, over fertiliser. It’s probably the hardest job of the year – but it’s done! I’m still waiting for the weather to be warm enough to properly loiter outside (one morning I managed a brisk coffee on the patio), but I’m waiting for the chance to read and work outside - it becomes another working space with a higher ceiling…

Our cottage garden when it's in full bloom...
 Which is just what I want to tell you about…

Research in Minnesota in 2007 showed that people in a room with a higher ceiling (by only two feet) came up with more abstract and uninhibited answers to questions than those in a room with a lower ceiling. Those with the lower ceiling focused better on detail. ‘This and other work suggests that higher ceilings help people think more freely and make abstract connections,’ says Nicola Morgan, ‘just what a writer needs.’

You can’t get a much higher ceiling than the sky and that’s why for a lot of creative people (or anyone with a problem to mull over), going outside for a stroll without trying to think about anything, is a key part of their process. It’s not ‘a break’ – it’s another way of working. There’s even a name for the human tendency to respond well to natural scenery: biophilia.

So, now the weather is getting better, here’s your chance to stop crowding over the details and let your mind go free. Go on – get out!

(Thanks to Nicola for the source of this information)
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.

Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.


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