Writers’ Quirks & Superstitions #2: Looking Up to Creativity to Tap into Memories & the Creative Mind

Look up! What you see & remember may surprise you.
I noticed this morning that whenever I am writing or daydreaming, I frequently look up as if through an unseen window above my writer’s desk to work through a problem, visualize a scene, or recall a word that escapes me. Thinking on this, I turned to Google search, of course, and discovered this article by Art Markman from PsychologyToday.com which explores, “Why Do You Close Your Eyes to Remember?” Symbolically, it makes sense that you would lift or close your eyes in order to “disengage from the world” and retreat into your thoughts. At night, to help calm my monkey mind, I often look up as I close my eyes and rest my head on my pillow in order to withdraw from the waking world and encourage sleep.

Although this article is interesting in terms of visual thinking and memory, Markman also references a study conducted by Annelies Vredeveldt, Graham Hitch, and Alan Baddeley on how eyeclosure helps memory that suggests the importance of eliminating sensory distractions when trying to focus. He writes, “In the end, sensory distraction has both a general and a specific component. Any kind of a distraction makes it harder for you to remember things to some degree. In addition, having a visual distraction makes it particularly hard to remember visual details. Having an auditory distraction makes it particularly hard to remember details of things that you heard…So, the next time you are trying to remember something important, look up, close your eyes, and minimize distraction.”

This insight can be helpful for those of us with ADHD who are frequently distracted. While I am rigid about promoting silence when in my writer’s den (this helps me to hear the rhythm and coherence of my words), the practice of sensory clarity also translates to studying and working. As I've mentioned many times before, but most recently in the post "Back to School and Work with ADHD," it's important to carve out a secluded space to encourage your academic or professional focus.

Do you seek out silence while studying, working, or writing? What about while performing visual hobbies or exercises? Any chefs out there who can comment on gustatory or taste perceptions?
Comment below or email me at WriteToJulianna

For other insights into writing and the creative process, check out the series “On Writing” (also listed under the drop down menu under “Blog Archive.”

You can also amuse yourself with my other Writer’s Quirk, which will come in handy in the fall and winter months to come…
Writers' Superstitions: #1 Ushanka Hat Kicking off a new series of blogs about writers' superstitions and quirks. To begin, I'd like to share with you my beloved Ushanka hat. Like many writers, I honor my own set of quirks and superstitions when it comes to the creative process…