The two attention systems map well to our inner writing heroes, the Scribe and the Muse.
The Scribe deploys the top-down, effortful mind. We access the Scribe with focused attention.
The Muse inhabits the bottom-up, intuitive mind. We connect with the Muse through open attention.
The focused attention of the Scribe gets authors out of bed in the early hours of the morning, or keeps us toiling even when we’d rather do anything other than the work in front of us. We value the ability to focus. But in our urge to get things done, we often neglect the importance of time spent doing nothing, with our minds wandering.
Open attention is how we connect with the Muse and the cognitive processes going on beneath our intentional thoughts. And our brains are filled with interesting connections. What can we offer as writers, if not our unique slant on the world? That slant includes thoughts beneath the obvious ones. Even nonfiction authors choose the right stories, metaphors, and angles, inspired by the Muse.
In his book Focus, Daniel Goleman makes the connection quite clearly: “Open awareness creates a mental platform for creative breakthroughs and unexpected insights.”
By making time for open attention, you can invite your brain to ponder and play with ideas or topics even when you’re not actively drafting or making notes. This subconscious work primes the brain to contribute words fluidly and easily when the time arrives to draft.
The Muse delivers the ideas and inspiration that fuel the Scribe. Without the Muse, writing is drudgery.
Janzer, Anne. The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear (pp. 23-24). Cuesta Park Consulting. Kindle Edition.
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