Neil Mach

Author – Fantasy Realism

Imagine if you typed this question into your status: where should I go this weekend?

Many of your followers, supporters & friends would probably ignore you. It’s a fact of life!  Maybe they read the question but got distracted. Maybe they missed your post altogether. Maybe they saw it but couldn’t think of anything useful to offer.

One or two might make some sensible (but boring) suggestions: Why not try a city break? Why not go into the countryside? These aren’t very useful because you want something unique, something noteworthy… something specific!

Then you always get a friend who says something random like “cheese” to a question like this because he or she is impulsive, a bit hit & miss and likes to be ironic and amusing. 

Then you’ll get the ones who’ll offer platitudes: “Wherever you go, you’ll be where you’re at.”  Groan! “You take the world on your shoulders everywhere you go....” Yawn!

Some might try to take a moral stand and say: “Think about our planet, and stay home,  “Go green” or “Do essential repairs around the house.”

Luckily, some friends will offer actionable suggestions, and one or two of these will be really desirable: i.e. the kind of suggestion that tickles your fancy. 

Of course, even these latter type suggestions, the exciting ones, will require more work, more research, and more time to consider the benefits. What if they recommended “The Faeroe Islands” and added “Pleasant this time of year... ”   You’ll want to post some extra questions: Where exactly are the Faeroe Islands? Can I get there in a weekend? Won’t the cost of travel be prohibitive? What currency do they use? What language do they speak? What weather should I expect? What will I do when I get there?

This is also how the creative brain works. It works like a post on your socials!

I’m no biologist (my C.S.E. grade 4 certificate bears witness to the truth) but my imperfect understanding of brain activity is that it is made possible by the interconnections of neurons and their release of neurotransmitters in response to nerve impulses.

This sounds highly technical and I don’t pretend to know what nerve impulses are or how they work, but I can tell you my interpretation: it’s cell-to-cell communication. That is, brain activity is basically flashes of inspiration, advice and potential, shared between neighbors. That’s why I think a human brain works the same way as a social network! 

You’ll know from your social networking that those who contribute the most will benefit. Active participation is rewarded! 

You will also know, of course, that your brain receives and interprets information to process ideas.

Your brain acquires perception from the senses: sight, smell, hearing and taste. So you need to provide stimulants to the senses if you wish to energize brain activity.

The brain also receives information about touch, pressure, pain, vibration and temperature. All this fastidious sense collection will help your brain develop psychological feelings, so it is better equipped to appraise, express, and provide appropriate & optimal responses.

Your brain holds all the information it collects on your behalf in a “working memory” much like your computer does (unless it crashes halfway through, like mine does at times). The brain can also switch between tasks and even work on multiple tasks at the same time… although such activities will push the limits of your “memory board.”

But if you are successful in blending & amalgamating these numerous processes, you’ll find they will fuel higher functions such as reasoning and problem solving.

So, to put it into language that a C.S.E. grade 4 student (like me) might understand, if you light up all those itsy-bitsy interconnections within your skull you can conjure fresh ideas and brilliantly creative inventions!

To recap, you’ll need to:

  • Receive information
  • Interpret that information
  • Energize your senses
  • Develop psychological feelings

Even though I don’t know you, my guess is that, in order to adjust your reasoning and put problem-solving skills into practice, you’ll need to receive information (by asking for it, claiming it, discovering it, or uncovering it) and then you’ll need to interpret that information (using methods such as experimentation, testing, sampling and review.)

After the review process, you’ll need to intensify your knowledge of the information by pivoting your sensual responses so they concentrate on the task at hand

Finally, and perhaps most ambitiously of all, you’ll need to develop mental images — from the information you’ve collected and interpreted — to gain emotion-related responses to the information you have gathered.

If all this sounds challenging, don’t worry, I plan to take you through some helpful brain exercises in the coming weeks, so follow me on my socials to keep up to date!

Good luck!

Words: @neilmach August 2021 ©

Any comments? Tweet me @neilmach

To participate in my FREE online creative imaginicity exercises over the next few weeks, follow my social media here

Neil Mach is the author of “So You Want to Write Fantasy?” and host of the Myth & Magic fantasy writer’s podcast.

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