Creative Flow & Brain Wave States

I’ve been reading an interesting book, titled Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within by Janet Conner. It focuses on how writing can help you access your inner wisdom and deeper ways of knowing. Anyone who establishes a writing practice, whether for creative expression or self discovery, begins to realize they can tap expanded ways of knowing and gain insights beyond the reach of their everyday state of awareness. I found the ideas and wisdom found in the book are very much applicable to creative writing.

In the book the author interviewed creativity consultants Michelle and Robert Colt who have studied what goes on in the brain when we write. They first describe the four types of brain waves, “Beta, the fastest is associated with stress, work and concentration.” Most of us spend the bulk of our waking time here. Alpha waves are a bit slower and are “associated with creativity, calmness, and insight.” This is the brain state of “being in the zone” where your work feels effortless. Theta waves are the next slowest. We experience this state when we first wake up or have an ah..ha moment where you have a really creative idea or the solution to a problem pops into your mind. People who meditate slip into theta quickly and remain there through the period of meditation.. Delta waves, that we experience in deep sleep are the slowest.

When we write we start out in beta, but very quickly move into alpha and eventually theta. The Colts explain that , “any moment of intense creativity is a theta burst. And when you engage in deep dialogue with divine mind, you are having mystical theta bursts” In the state of mystical theta bursts you are surprised by what comes out of your pen (or keyboard). I remember when I had my first experience of this state. I stopped writing to look around the room to see where the words were coming from because they didn’t feel like they were coming from me. It sounds strange but it actually feels delightful and it’s really were the best writing comes from.

I was really excited to read about the brain states because it explained what I have been teaching intuitively for years. I tell my students to never wait for inspiration before sitting down to write because if you do you will likely be waiting a long time. I explain that you often have to write a half a page or a page where not much is happening, where you will feel sluggish and resistant before you start to feel a sense of the creative flow. I now realize that you are actually writing your way out of beta down into the brain states that give you access to the more creative states. It’s why establishing writing as a habit or practice is so important because you never really feel like writing until you slip into the more creative brain states and the best way to get there is to sit down and start writing.

The information about brain states also explains why we have hard time coming up with creative solutions to life’s and the world’s problems when we are in our everyday (beta) mind. This reminds me of what Einstein meant when he said, Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. Reading about the brain states makes me aware of how important it is when I am faced with a problem to slow down and calm down, knowing this will help me tap the more expanded brain states and allow creative solutions and new ideas to surface.

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4 Responses »

  1. Very interesting!


  2. I find it really interesting how futile it can be trying to be creative when we’re in a solid beta brainwave state. I like what you said about needing to attack writer’s block by just starting to write when you don’t feel like it and then you’ll get in a more alpha creative brainwave state.


  3. I have lamented for several years about writer’s block since I have avid interest in writing blog posts, articles and eventually, books. But I could write sporadically in my wellness journal with ease, clarity and healing intent. I reasoned that a deeper “emotional” voice needed expression and priority over an “intellectual” one. However, your insight helps me understand better that I can write past my writer’s block with enough practice…and still allow expression however I may need for personal or professional purposes. Such relief…thank you…and such curiosity to explore this!


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