Blogger: Rachel Zurakowski
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Another article I found from the Monitor on Psychology researched the dedicated memory needed for writing. Dr. David Galbraith, PhD, found in his study that distracting writers with spatial memory tasks, like asking them to trace a Velcro strip with their free hand, resulted in less ability (by about half) to plan an essay than those who were foot tappers (a kinetic task).
Spatial memory is the dedicated memory responsible for recording information about one’s environment and its spatial orientation. This is the memory that is taxed when your surroundings change. So if your children are coming in and out of your office, or you can overhear conversations and people around you, or if your dog won’t stop barking, your ability to write and generate ideas is significantly impaired. You probably didn’t even need this article to know that, but the study gives validity to the need of a quiet writing place or time that is as distraction free as you can possibly make it.
In the second study addressed in the article, which was done by Dr. Kellogg, PhD, writing is shown to use many facets of your working memory, too. He says that, “Even something as simple as making an agreement between a subject and a verb puts a demand on working memory.”
Writing involves much more of the brain than you might think! You need to be able to concentrate more than just your working memory on the task.
So next time your dog barks at you while you’re writing, you can tell him it’s been clinically proven that he needs to leave you alone. 🙂
External distractions take away my ability to write even these blogs, which are only a few hundred words. I remember from my college days that my brain would actually hurt after trying to write an essay in a classroom–a distraction-filled environment.
Is it obvious to you when your mind is distracted during writing? Do you think your writing suffers because of the time/place you’re choosing to write? What could you change to lessen the distractions in your writing life?