Soul Vitamin: Idle Brain Time

Neuroscience rebuffs long-held prejudices against idleness and play. In Autopilot: The Art & Science of Doing Nothing, scientist and engineer Andrew Smart explains that focus actually suppresses our hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex.

This means that when we focus, we decrease blood flow and oxygen to our brains. But when we “space out”—yes, daydream—blood and oxygen supercharge those parts of our brain.

Idle brain time refuels the Default Mode Network (DMN). How important is our DMN? This network gives us our “aha moments.” Consider how vital ideas are in creative work.

So, if we as writers require such moments, how can we have healthy DMN?

1. Allow yourself time where you stare off into space, nap, walk, paint a wall or shovel manure.

2. Give yourself a union break, a sabbath and/or a good night’s sleep.

3. Cultivate solitude.

Excerpt from Creative Juices: A Splash of Story Craft, Process and Creative Soul Care. Available at

One thought on “Soul Vitamin: Idle Brain Time

  1. sharidragovich says:

    Yes! My writing retreat was filled with moments/times of idle brain time. I did get some good work done, too. Interestingly, when I sat down for my next day of work back at home, I worked for five hours nonstop; breaking through some serious structural issues I was still grappling with in my manuscript.

    And still, I have to fight for that idle brain time–from the outside and especially from within.

    Good word, Friend! 🙂


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