Suspend Your Disbelief

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Why Slow Thinking (and Slow Writing) Can Be Good for You


A while back, Anne blogged about J. Robert Lennon and the argument that writers are really working all the time. Here’s further reason to back away from the writing schedule and cut yourself some slack now and then. Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness, makes a compelling case for “slow thinking” when it comes to finding new ideas:

[…] Slow Thinking is intuitive, woolly and creative. It is what we do when the pressure is off, and there is time to let ideas simmer on the back burner. It yields rich, nuanced insights and sometimes surprising breakthroughs.

Research has shown that time pressure leads to tunnel vision and that people think more creatively when they are calm, unhurried and free from stress and distractions. We all know this from experience. Your best ideas, those eureka moments that turn the world upside down, seldom come when you’re juggling emails, rushing to meet the 5pm deadline or straining to make your voice heard in a high-stress meeting. They come when you’re walking the dog, soaking in the bath or swinging in a hammock.

Sure, we know that some downtime is important, but we usually feel obliged to justify any time spent Not Being Productive–to our bosses at our day jobs, to skeptical relatives and friends, even to ourselves. Perhaps it’s an artifact of the Puritan work ethic: if you’re not producing, you’re doing something wrong (and you should be ashamed of being so immoral). This is a helpful reminder that an hour spent daydreaming, cooking, or wandering–or reading blogs–might actually be productive after all.

How do you get yourself to slow down and make time for that Slow Thinking?

Read more here.

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