I Shot Wendell! That was the title of a recent post. If you read that post, please stay with me and don’t judge me until you’ve read this new post in its entirety.
What does shooting Wendell have to do with art (my main focus)? Nothing, but everything to do with creativity. Which sparked the question, “Why do I always have creative ideas in the shower?” I decided to do some internet research as I couldn’t possibly be the only person having epiphanies in the shower. This morning was somewhat different… I read the paper with my coffee after which I relaxed and became meditative. The ideas lit up as I began to mentally write this post. I finished the post in the shower.
Before the physical act of writing, I researched my topic and discovered several internet articles. Most referenced the release of dopamine.Dopamine, the “motivation molecule.” Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is released in our brains caused by various activities including a warm shower, exercise, listening to music, and meditation. In the shower, we are relaxed… not distracted. This is a good thing. However, if we do not snare our thoughts when they occur, they may be lost. According to Leo Widrich in his article Why We Have Our Best Ideas In the Shower: The Science of Creativity he offers three ways to do so:
- Keep a notebook with you at all times – Artists use a sketchbook – Don’t forget a pen or pencil. Even in the shower, use Aqua Notes.
- “Incubation” period – jot down notes relative to the idea, go about other tasks while the idea is incubating – return to the idea and finish it. (I went to Starbucks with my wife while this post was incubating).
- Overwhelm your brain: Make the task really hard – you will engage more of your creative area than normal. Rewriting the post “I Shot Wendell” as “Creative Blast #1” has certainly engaged my creativity.
Those sparks of creativity are beneficial. Increasing dopamine ignites those sparks… warm showers, exercise, music, and meditation as previously stated. In his article How to Increase Dopamine Naturally Deane Alban provides a list of certain foods, drinks, and spices that can help:
- All animal products
- Chocolate (I like dark chocolate)
- Fava Beans
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Lima Beans
- Sea Vegetables
- Sesame and Pumpkin Seeds
- Wheat Germ
Now back to the creativity of the day “I Shot Wendell.” For thirteen years I was a band and choir teacher in a public school in Northeast Missouri. Being a disciplinarian was the most difficult aspect of teaching. Most students were well-behaved and respectful. There were a few that pushed the limits however. Wendell was one of those. He played Baritone Saxophone in band. The instrument was almost as big as he was. He wasn’t a bad kid… he just liked to talk, especially to Terri. Of course, if they were talking, neither were playing their saxes. I gave Wendell demerits and lowered his grade, all to no avail.
One day between classes, I discovered a starter pistol in the teacher’s lounge. My creative juices flowed as I had been contemplating for quite sometime how to get Wendell to quit talking. This day, I was going to have some fun at his expense. This was back in the day when male teachers wore sports jackets. I tucked the starter pistol into the waistband of my slacks and covered it with my jacket. I told several students in the front what I was going to do so they would not be alarmed. Wendell didn’t disappoint me, he started talking. I pulled out the pistol, pointed it directly at him and fired. I said, “Now you shut up!” It was the first time I ever saw Jay Dee, Wendell’s best friend, smile. It was a BLAST… very satisfying. I cannot recall if Wendell was affected or not. He was probably like a wild horse. He couldn’t be broken.
What does this have to do with art? Nothing, but it was certainly the CREATIVE BLAST that I needed.
Artists, I challenge you to get in the shower after you exercise while listening to soothing instrumental music at a low volume (words are distracting), stand there and meditate and have your own CREATIVE BLAST.