How Computers Hinder Creativity11:00
The computer is a wonderful invention, but sometimes it can be more of a hindrance than a help. I’m not even talking about how distracting the internet is. We’ve all experienced how time sucking Facebook or YouTube can be, and they’re certainly not to be discredited for their part in the procrastination problem. But the whole process of sitting down to work at a computer is fraught with problems. We’ve all opened Word documents only to be met with writers block, or created a new blog post only to find that we’ve got nothing to say. And I think it’s something to do with the computer and the way we think.
When I open a blank Word document, my brain automatically thinks ‘Oh, it’s time to write now. I’m going to churn out a few thousand words and be super productive.’ My fingers rest on the keys and I’m ready to go. But nine times out of ten, I haven’t a clue what I’m actually going to write about, just this vague idea that I should be working on something. And that’s where the problem comes in. My brain connects ‘computer’ with ‘work’, not ‘idea generating’. So it takes quite a while (and many internet breaks) for it to have even one thought worth committing to the page.
When I first started editing my books, one of the things I learned early on was that I do my best brainstorming away from the computer. I take my notebook (made of paper) and my pen (with real ink) and leave the computer and its busy-bee mentality behind. Leaving the computer, it’s easier to give myself leave to think creatively and come up with strange and wonderful concepts than it is when I’m sitting in a space where I’m pressuring myself to come up with an idea, any idea, just so I can get on and start the writing I know I’m here for.
The desk is where it all comes together; all that brainstorming, turning over of ideas, and generating of a plan. But without that plan and that creative time away from the desk, writing can be incredibly difficult. The computer is an amazing tool, and I’m certainly glad that I have one. But it can also exert a huge amount of pressure on us writers to be creative, to have amazing ideas. And creativity under pressure is hard to come by. So, if you’re drawing a blank on what to write, step away from the computer. Take your pen and paper and just relax. Doodle, write down random thoughts, muse on the science of pizza cravings, anything that will relax your mind and leave it open to new ideas. And when those ideas arrive, the computer will be waiting to help you turn those amazing concepts into reality.
What do you do when you’re brainstorming? How do you conquer the fear of the blank page? Do you, like me, find it hard to generate ideas when sitting at the computer?