Friday, 14 February 2014

An Experiment in Improving Creativity

I am a writer, but I would love, love, love to be a better writer. And I can't see that desire ever going away - even if I were to somehow reach writing superhero status.

I think that's true of most other writers too. And there are certainly a ton of resources out there to help us in our quest for self-improvement; writing courses, forums and critique circles, blogs, videos and of course the obligatory and quite wonderful plethora of How-To books. All of which can be obtained both out there in the Real World and from the virtual online haven of our computers or whatever techie device takes our fancy.

But that's not all the cheese on the board. There are other options available too. Things that might be considered a little more 'out there' in terms of helping you improve your creativity. And I'm nothing if not open-minded about giving something a go... which is why I'm currently road-testing 'Creative and Inspired Writing: Erik Brown Hypnosis.' Yep, deal with it - I've gone all New Age on you!

I found it through my Kindle; it was a free-download app that promised to 'awaken and inspire my latent creativity' through the power of hypnosis. Here's the blurb: "Inspired and Creative Writing Hypnosis will speak to your Super Conscious Mind, clearing barriers that are blocking your creativity and creating a flow of inspiration. Powerful suggestions for deep relaxation and positive change will be received by your mind, opening your mind for inspiration, increasing your self-esteem, and helping you to nurture your writing instead of judging it."

Now normally I am more than a little sceptical about what you might call alternative therapies. I have never felt an urge to stick lighted candles in my ear, and anyone who wants to stab tiny needles into me needs to have a way better reason than "it'll balance your chi." Hypnosis, however, I am prepared to cut some slack. I already know from previous experience that I am one of those people who can be hypnotized; I used hypnosis as a pain-relief method when I gave birth to my son and it worked extremely well. (This is also why I am never ever going to a stage hypnotist's show; no-one's making me bark like a dog and snog random strangers for their own entertainment, thanks very much.) I read the afore-quoted blurb and, as someone who is currently slogging through Draft Two of a novel, thought "Hell yeah, I could use me some of that!" And - the chocolate sprinkles on the chocolate cake -  this was an entirely free, zero-pence opportunity... It seemed daft not to take it, so take it I did. I downloaded and installed it on Monday.

I then had my first 'session' - nothing complicated, just a matter of plugging some headphones into my Kindle and chilling out on the sofa for about half an hour (and it's nice to have an actual reason for doing it that doesn't include the word 'laziness.') In order for this programme to be effective, it seems I have to listen to it once a day for a minimum of twenty-one consecutive days. (It's official then; hypnosis is just a more spiritual version of nagging.) I must also not listen to each session while driving - which is great, because the last thing I wanted was to have to learn to drive before I started doing this. And then, once the trailers were done, came the Session Proper.

Erik Brown has a nice American voice that sounds a little bit sleepy and sometimes kind of echo-ey, which is either because he's had those things SFX-ed onto his normal voice as part of the whole Hypnosis Vibe, or I was just hearing it that way because he had already Taken Control Of My Brain. Either way, it's a little bit freaky until you get used to it. As is the moment in the Long Induction version where he tells you to 'relax your genitals' (I'm not used to obeying instructions like that from a man I've never even met.)

The middle bit... well, that's where it all gets a bit hazy. Erik Brown says that if your mind wanders during the session, you fall asleep or you simply don't remember anything he's said once the session's over, it's all good; you're still absorbing everything he's saying in your subconscious mind. For me, it didn't feel like I fell asleep, it was more like that thing that happens when you're on a long drive and then you suddenly realise you've reached your destination but you can't remember the journey. I've done four sessions so far, and I've 'tuned out' in this manner every time - but weirdly, not at the same point every time, so I'm still not sure how many fragments of sessions I'll need to hear before I've pieced enough together to actually know everything that's said.

The session ends with him telling me that I every time I see the colour red I will associate it with releasing my creativity, so I've now put up some pictures directly above my computer screen; a person in a red suit writing, a hand writing with a red pencil in a red book and a diagram showing the (red) Writer's Toolbox and its contents. If I want to get my writing mojo on, it seems smart to have it kickstarted at the place where I'll be doing the writing, so I'll see if they have any added effect.

It's too early to make any judgments after only four sessions, so I shall keep this experiment going for the full twenty-one day extravaganza and see what happens. And I shall of course keep you posted on my progress.

And now if you'll excuse me, I need to lie down on a sofa and deal with an American stranger telling me to 'relax my genitals.' Again. Well, no-one said the path to enlightenment was easy...


  1. Wow! Kudos, Wendy, for taking a flyer on this and sticking with the routine. (I probably would have stopped once the voice told me to relax my private parts.) I hope it works for you. I also hope that you don't find yourself triggered to do some "creative" driving when you approach a red light. That will still mean stop!

  2. Hehe, that's okay Patrick - I'm a non-driver (tried to learn three times, probably gave three driving instructors nervous breakdowns in the process.) If I DO start driving anything bigger than a shopping cart, something's gone badly awry with the confidence-boosting part of the program. ;)

    Still doing it each day - although I've now been able to switch to the short induction instead, which leaves genitals of any ownership well out of it, thank goodness. Still probably too early to make any solid claims, but I'm already noticing subtle differences... I'll keep going with it. In The Name Of Science!