A Zombie ate my brains.
You know the feeling? Saturday mornings, you wake up and your brain is empty. When I am in that Zombie-ate-my-brain state, all that I can manage is coffee and cereal. And then I stare: at walls, at the TV, out the window, at the inside of my eyelids. Zombie brain.
My wife is a preschool teacher and one of her 4 year olds told her that our brains are made out of meat and electricity. Hmm. I think he is onto something…
Can your brain ever be empty? Inside of your head is a 3.5 pound Feta cheesy mass of meat, pumping with electricity and chemistry. It’s as dangerous as it sounds in there. Your brain never stops updating the operating system and it is always ‘on’. This makes me think, “If there’s so much activity in there, why do we get the Zombie brain feeling when we try to create something?”
1. It’s normal to feel that we don’t have anything creative to say, or do. When I began writing this piece, my first line literally was “I have nothing to write. Nothing in my brain,” and then I began to write about empty Zombie brains. One step leads to the next.
- Play wakes up your brain because Zombies hate it when we laugh. Just start writing. Write what is on your brain even if it feels stupid. “Stupid” is a judgment that we need to erase from our vocabulary. No one creates interesting work on the first draft. We all make huge messes, but mess is the brains’ playground.
2. Mute the Editor . In my article on DJ Daddy 2.0, I write about how when we create, we need the DJ not the Editor. Editors look for things to be right. DJ’s work with the mood and the vibe. DJ’s mix and mess around with playlists to create something that fits. Editors like to clean up the messiness, DJ’s make messes and no one cares because they are just trying to have a good night.
- When you begin, you need the DJ and later on in the process, that is when the Editor can take over.
- How I turn the Editor off is to compartmentalize. When I sit down to write, that is DJ time. The Editor has to stay in his damned room until I am ready. Interrupting the flow of creativity to Edit can kill the creativity. Creativity is DJ time.
- Some people only let their Editor’s out a few days after they have written something. Whatever works.
- I find it really important to remind myself not to judge my own creation. Even God on the first day thought to himself, “Now that’s just a big messy ball of water and mud. What the hell was I thinking?” Good thing he didn’t walk away.
3. Another name for Editor is Perfectionism: Trying to get things ‘right’ the first time. By the way, this will kill your creativity. Creativity thrives when we make mistakes, manage the emotions that mistakes throw back at us and then find something compelling in what we have just made.
- It means that we have to start, be messy, write crappy, change our ideas and find the spark of something interesting in what we have done.
- We also need to know that a messy start does not mean that we Suck at this. Suck, another word to eradicate.
4. Zombie brain is normal: Being unsure, having nothing to say or nothing to write is part of the creative process. That’s the white page, blank canvas, quiet room, fresh paint, wood and nails but no plan feeling. Uncertainty is part of creativity.
- Sometimes I have a creative idea and a good plan. Other times just a blank screen and Zombie brain. Weird thoughts happen. Is the computer thinking about me? Is someone watching me? Did I floss?
5. The key is just starting. The weird questions, blank stares, Zombie brains will always happen, to ALL OF US. Just write. Write about the questions, how it feels to stare at your computer, describe the Zombie staring back at you. Don’t expect brilliance, just write/paint/draw/sing/do your thing.
- This why I love to paint abstract. The uncertainty drives your creativity. Because you don’t know, you cannot make a mistake.
- This is why I like to spread out and make a mess everywhere I go: In the corners of my bedroom, on my desk at work, in my car and my junk drawer. Messes allow ideas to mix and mash, and then see what will happen. Most times not much, but that’s okay. Just start.
No, your Brain is not empty. It’s actually quite full of meat and electricity. Inside, you have good ideas, creative thoughts, stories, images and creativity. We need you to contribute whatever you have to say.
So play, make a mess and start. The Zombies hate it when we laugh.
Keep it real