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The Art of “Creative Sleep”: Stephen King on Writing and Wakeful Dreaming

The Art of “Creative Sleep”: Stephen King on Writing and Wakeful Dreaming
by Maria Popova “In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives.” “Sleep is the greatest creative aphrodisiac,” a wise woman once said. Like your bedroom, your writing room should be private, a place where you go to dream. King likens the creative process to a kind of wakeful dream state. In both writing and sleeping, we learn to be physically still at the same time we are encouraging our minds to unlock from the humdrum rational thinking of our daytime lives. Ultimately, this “creative sleep” is what allows us to cultivate our own worlds while writing — something stymied by the barrage of distractions that fill the spaces of everyday life. The space can be humble … and it really needs only one thing: A door you are willing to shut. King’s advice, of course, should be taken with a grain of salt: As E. Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. Related:  osensei2001

The Power of Process: What Young Mozart Teaches Us About the Secret of Cultiv... by Maria Popova On the “powerful blend of instruction, encouragement, and constant practice.” “The trick to creativity … is to identify your own peculiar talent and then to settle down to work with it for a good long time,” observed Denise Shekerjian in reflecting on her insightful interviews with MacArthur “genius” grantees. “Success is the product of the severest kind of mental and physical application,” attested Thomas Edison. “It is the man who carefully advances step by step, with his mind becoming wider and wider … who is bound to succeed in the greatest degree,” Alexander Graham Bell proclaimed. Anonymous portrait of the child Mozart, possibly by Pietro Antonio Lorenzoni; painted in 1763 on commission from Leopold Mozart (public domain) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [was] alleged to be an instant master performer at age three and a brilliant composer at age five. The Mozart family on tour: Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl. Donating = Loving Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter.

Tetris Dreams A diversion? Yes. Addictive? Maybe. The idea that sleep, and in particular dreaming, serves to cement new information and skills in the brain first gained a lot of attention when Stickgold and his colleagues described another set of findings in the March 1999 issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. Stickgold hypothesized why these sequential phases of sleep were so crucial, describing a two-step process by which memories important to learning were consolidated and integrated in the brain. In this latest round of experimentation, Stickgold and his team probed yet a third phase of dreaming--the hypnagogic period that occurs within the first hour of sleep. Seventeen of these 27 subjects reported seeing the same images during hypnagogic sleep--namely falling geometric pieces that, if placed properly, rack up points in Tetris. In fact, the learning curve for the game--measured by total points earned--was quite different for the three groups.

Six Famous Thought Experiments, Animated in 60 Seconds Each By Maria Popova From the fine folks at the Open University comes 60-Second Adventures in Thought, a fascinating and delightfully animated series exploring six famous thought experiments. The Paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles comes from Ancient Greece and explores motion as an illusion: The Grandfather Paradox grapples with time travel: Chinese Room comes from the work of John Searle, originally published in 1980, and deals with artificial intelligence: Hilbert’s paradox of the Grand Hotel, proposed by German mathematician David Hilbert, tackles the gargantuan issue of infinity: The Twin Paradox, first explained by Paul Langevin in 1911, examines special relativity: Schrödinger’s Cat, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935, is a quantum mechanics mind-bender: For more such fascination and cognitive calisthenics, you won’t go wrong with Peg Tittle’s What If….Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy . via Open Culture

Sleep and the Teenage Brain by Maria Popova How a seemingly simple change can have a profound effect on everything from academic performance to bullying. “Sleep is the greatest creative aphrodisiac,” Debbie Millman asserted in her advice on breaking through your creative block. “Sleep deprivation will profoundly affect your creativity, your productivity, and your decision-making,” Arianna Huffington cautioned graduating seniors in her Smith College commencement address on redefining success. And yet, as German chronobiologist Till Roenneberg argued in his fantastic Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired — one of the best science books of 2012, and undoubtedly among the best you’ll ever read — teenagers have already endured years of institutionally inflicted sleep deprivation by the time they get to college: there is a tragic disconnect between teens’ circadian givens and our social expectations of them, encapsulated in what is known as the disco hypothesis. Donating = Loving

The War Chapter 9, an american girl fanfic Disclaimer: I do not own American Girl or any of the American Girl Characters and stories. A/N Thank you to everyone who reads and especially to those who review! I really, really appreciate all of you. I hope you enjoy this next chapter! Also, I'd like to say that although updates may be erratic, I will not abandon this story. Felicity woke to the sound of leaves rustling and sticks snapping. She snapped her eyes shut. And little moments of fun were really all they had. Felicity was thinking that the boys were much quieter than she gave them credit for when a grand crash came from the left side of her tent. "G'morning," was all she had time to say. "Come on, we wanna show you something," Clayton said excitedly, walking away from the cluster of tents and towards the woods. The view from the rock was amazing- and in the distance, coming from the nearby town, was the general's command. They were more different from the patriot recruits than Felicity ever imagined. "Gosh, really?"

The Science of Stress, Orgasm and Creativity: How the Brain and the Vagina Co... “The more closely we analyze what we consider ‘sexy,’” philosopher Alain de Botton argued in his meditation on sex, “the more clearly we will understand that eroticism is the feeling of excitement we experience at finding another human being who shares our values and our sense of the meaning of existence.” But in his attempt to counter the reductionism that frames human sexuality as a mere physiological phenomenon driven solely by our evolutionary biology, de Botton overcompensates by reducing in the opposite direction, negating the complex interplay of brain and biology, psychology and physiology, that propels the human sexual experience. That’s precisely what Naomi Wolf, author of the 1991 cultural classic The Beauty Myth, examines in Vagina: A New Biography (public library) — a fascinating exploration of the science behind the vastly misunderstood mind-body connection between brain and genitalia, consciousness and sexuality, the poetic and the scientific. Wolf writes:

Stories for the Ear! Modern Radio Drama, Fiction Audio Stories How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word Find a Subject You Care About Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do. Do Not Ramble, Though I won’t ramble on about that. Keep It Simple As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. Have the Guts to Cut It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. Sound like Yourself Say What You Mean to Say Pity the Readers

The Ego and the Universe: Alan Watts on Becoming Who You Really Are by Maria Popova The cause of and cure for the illusion of separateness that keeps us from embracing the richness of life. During the 1950s and 1960s, British philosopher and writer Alan Watts began popularizing Eastern philosophy in the West, offering a wholly different perspective on inner wholeness in the age of anxiety and what it really means to live a life of purpose. We owe much of today’s mainstream adoption of practices like yoga and meditation to Watts’s influence. Alan Watts, early 1970s (Image courtesy of Everett Collection) Though strictly nonreligious, the book explores many of the core inquiries which religions have historically tried to address — the problems of life and love, death and sorrow, the universe and our place in it, what it means to have an “I” at the center of our experience, and what the meaning of existence might be. Watts considers the singular anxiety of the age, perhaps even more resonant today, half a century and a manic increase of pace later: