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Jan 16, 2019

‘The Writer’s Brain’ on Productivity vs. Creativity: Part Two

In Part Two of another special edition of The Writer Files called “The Writer’s Brain,” with guest host neuroscientist Michael Grybko, we’ll dig back into the inextricable link between productivity and creativity, and the Catch-22 so many writers face as a result.

This all began when Michael and I started a conversation about why we need to rethink our definition of productivity.

As busyness, the cult of productivity, and multitasking seem to take over our lives, it’s easy to forget that the origins of the word productivity comes from the Latin, productivitas.

Translation: creative power.

Creativity — a topic Michael and I have discussed at length — is the beating heart of change, progress, and innovation, but our work-life scales are bending dangerously toward more busywork, distraction, inefficiency, and overall dissatisfaction.

Truly scaling creativity requires productivity, so a balance must be struck between the two. Writing is a great example of this push and pull in the human brain.

Luckily, research scientist Michael Grybko returned to the podcast to help me find some answers from the perspective of neuroscience.

If you missed the first half of this show you can find it right here. And If you’ve missed previous episodes of The Writer’s Brain you can find them all in the show notes, in the archives at, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you tune in.

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In Part Two of this file Michael Grybko and I discuss:

  • Why professional writers, musicians, and athletes all share similar brain activity
  • How adrenaline, mind-wandering, dreams, and the default mode network affect productivity and creativity
  • Einstein’s theory of “combinatory play” for greater productivity
  • Why your brain’s ability to filter out irrelevant information is so important to creativity
  • And tips for anyone “drowning in data and starved for wisdom”

The Show Notes