Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Multitasking Brain Likes to Melt

At the moment I'm both contributing to my blog and watching a DVD on revision called, "So, Is It Done?"  I love this.  

On the other hand, I was told at work by a customer that new research suggests that multi-tasking is bad for your brain.  (I wonder, is this more reliable than Googling for getting reliable information?  Heh.)  I'm not sure that's true, or what 'bad' means for that matter.  I can theorize that what the research might be pointing at is a need for the brain to be able to focus, fully, on one thing.  Deep thinking--not the philosophical or spiritual concept, but the physical process--is intoxicating and I like the idea that it's necessary for mental health.  But multitasking is challenging and a pretty neat skill too.  Studies I can't specifically cite have been quoted as saying that women are better at it than men.  Does that simply mean that women can tolerate that sort of mental abuse better?

Brain exercises of many kinds can be good for you.  There's evidence that learning a new skill every year, whether it's a new kind of game, foreign language phrases, or a physical skill like woodworking, keeps your brain more youthful.  So I'm not too worried that learning how to watch a DVD while typing a blog entry will melt my brain.  Or if it does, the melting doesn't feel bad.  If anything, I feel good.  Productive.  Especially with this DVD.  I'm familiar with quite a few aspects of the revision process, so I'm just listening for reminders, fresh perspectives, and new tools.  I wrote most of this while the DVD discussed the reasons why it's good to give your draft a vacation so that your subconscious can work while the manuscript 'rests.'

In submission news, I'm working hard on a snail mail submission.  I'm hoping to mail it out on Monday.  It'll be technically late (Sunday is my deadline--I think I'll rethink this and just make it Monday since I can't mail anything on Sundays) but it'll be better than if I sent it out today.

I'm super-jealous right now.  They're discussing short stories, and laying them out on a table so that you can look at the whole physical thing at once.  That would take about 500 sq. ft. without paths to walk among the pages if I did that to Masks.  Maybe a chapter at a time?  Still, it's a neat idea that generally speaking is a bit impractical.  My next short story, I'll consider this technique.  It's fun to learn new ways to play.  Er, write.  Okay, play.


Carissa said...

I've been seeing more and more articles on multi-tasking as bad in the magazines I read. It seems it takes away from your ability to concentrate and focus, rather like a self-induced version of Adult ADD (bad analogy, I think, given that there is more than goes into ADD, but that's the commonality cited most often).

I felt much better since giving up my penchance for multitasking, personally. I was a multitasking fiend when I ran the bookstore, and since leaving and cutting back on that sort of thing, my concentration level is much higher, I can sit at one task longer, and my completion quality is stronger. Just a personal observation.

Where did you find the DVD? It sounds fascinating (ie: can I borrow it?). Or maybe we should have a look at it at an INK meeting?

Kami said...

Hard to say if it's all for real or if it's the media-hyped work-related ailment of the year making the rounds. I'd sure love to get something from my doc that says I'm not allowed to multi-task at work anymore because it might impair my ability to write! That would be sweet.

Anyway, as far as the DVD, we borrowed it from the Multnomah Co. Library. I think I'm going to buy a copy and contribute it to the I.N.K. library. It's a really fun resource and I'd like to have it around so I can watch it again from time to time. It's definitely something that will have different parts have different resonance and importance each time I watch it.