I devoted six hours last night (stopping at around 2:00 AM) to devouring a book I found at the library — it’s amazing how much faster I can read writing intended for a general audience, now, after having gone through a semester of reading textbooks and journal articles!
I won’t say which book it is — yet — I have my own reasons, which you’ve probably seen before. However…so far as my curiosity around the psychological or neural aspect of creating goes, this book was very enlightening. No need to refer back to religion or spirituality to explain what happens in the creative process! (Apparently, I am more comfortable in a “spontaneous” creative process which can appear spiritual, as I may have no memory of working on creative problems prior to the results springing forward out of “incubation,” into my conscious awareness.)
And what I had thought there was no material on — that is, a psychological explanation of creativity — happily enough, I’m finding I was wrong about. (Then again, this book was copyrighted in 2010, possibly way after I had asked professionals how creativity worked and was told that psychiatry didn’t fully understand: 2010 was around the time I was first hired. The question first arose around 2002, unless I’m mistaken and it arose before that: I was obsessively creative for years, prior to undergrad [though I believe it started at around 14 years of age, for me].)
One of the more interesting parts of this is the possibility that perhaps as an undergrad, my illness could have been setting me up to write…that is, the obsessive writing could have been a symptom of my illness (mood disorders and psychotic disorders can light up the same parts of the brain as are active in creative process). This would explain why it became so much more difficult to write creatively after I started taking medications targeting my psychosis (psychosis just means becoming detached from reality; it does not mean, “wanting to kill people”).
That is, I can turn off the neural firing that caused me to write creatively, now. Actually, it seems that its default is “off.” Just because it isn’t on all the time, doesn’t mean that now it’s gone, or that now it has to be “hard.” It’s just controlled, and I have to make the decision to step back and allow my creativity through if I want creating to happen.
What happened with one of my recent Creative Writing attempts, which I had been curious about, is that I allowed my Executive function (pre?frontal cortex) to step back and allow a different part of my brain to speak…explaining why it didn’t feel like “me,” but not meaning that it was not “me.”
This is actually fairly fascinating.
I have a couple more books to go through which deal with the psychological bases of the creative process…I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull a marathon reading session again this soon, though!