Of all the benefits of reading, the fact that reading makes you more creative, is one of the most rewarding.
We don’t really sit down and read a novel just to develop our imagination and be more creative, do we? Most of us read to escape this world. We enter the world of the writer and live a different life, for a short time, through the characters in the book. We want to be entertained by the world the writer creates and the characters that populate that world. This is one of the attractions of great fantasy novels.
But why are we entertained? And why do we keep reading although the writer may be writing about something we know nothing or little about?
We keep reading because the writer has managed to engage our imagination. In short, reading has stimulated our imagination to create a new world in our mind.
If you were an explorer you would learn about the world and its diversity through direct experience. You would walk narrow alleys in foreign countries, sail the great seas, scale great desert sand dunes or sip mint tea in a Middle Eastern courtyard. This exploration would broaden your mind, develop your imagination and boost creativity and change your worldview forever. If you could ‘see’ these places or imagine what it would feel like, that is your imagination working.
But (unfortunately) we can’t all take to the high road and disappear into the sunset for these experiences.
But we can discover new worlds through reading books. Reading a book uses the imagination and this in turn develops our creativity.
Of course, the key to developing your imagination when reading a book, is the level of interest you have in the content. The more you are totally absorbed in a book, the more it will stimulate your imagination and help your creativity.
Reading improves brain function.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”
– Albert Einstein
In order to write a book, especially fiction, the writer must use their imagination. They give their creativity and imagination free rein to conjure up magical stories for readers to enjoy.
And we get the best possible creative benefits from their writing when we use our own imagination to interpret what we read.
In fact, research has shown that reading is key to boosting our own mental capacity and creativity.
Neuroscientists at Emory University found that reading a novel improves brain function. They detected what may be biological traces, actual changes in the brain that linger, at least for a few days, after reading a novel. The study titled, “Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain,” was published in the journal Brain Connectivity.
The researchers found that regular reading enhances brain connectivity and improves brain function. In fact brain activity varied with the peaks and troughs of the story – giving credence to the saying “reading exercises the brain”.
Reading improves Empathy
The study also found that reading fiction improves one’s ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, which is an act of imagination called empathy. When you put yourself mentally in a character’s shoes and imagine what life must be like for them, suddenly your world has become bigger. And so your brain biology and your empathy skills benefit from reading.
“The object we call a book is not the real book, but its potential, like a musical score or seed. It exists fully only in the act of being read; and its real home is inside the head of the reader, where the symphony resounds, the seed germinates. A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another.”
― Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
Imagination has got mankind where it is today. Our technological progress is a direct result of people who have imagined bigger and better solutions to common problems. People have imagined and created novel inventions and discoveries.
From rockets that can pierce the skies to the Velcro that you use to fasten your sneakers, each invention was born from someones imagination.
Just imagine, without human imagination, we would probably still be living in caves. We would have no internet, no trains, or cars, no kettles to boil water, no taps to turn on for water. Can you imagine that?
Thing is, imagination is the key to human progress and imagination is a function of our brain. When a creative person writes down their ideas for us to read, then reading improves our imagination and makes us more creative too.
Reading Makes You More Creative
If you want more proof that reading helps creativity, look no further than the world famous entrepreneur Elon Musk. Musk is a modern-day example of an avid reader who has come up with creative solutions to a number of problems facing modern society.
Elon Musk has admitted to reading up to 10 hours of science fiction per day. His reading covered such diverse subjects as fiction, philosophy, religion, programming, biographies of scientists as well as physics, engineering, product design, business, technology and energy.
You can be sure that reading all those books and employing his imagination is how reading helped develop his creativity and sowed the seeds for the four diverse tech companies that Musk heads today.
So reading uses your imagination. Through using your imagination, reading makes you more creative and innovative. Try some reading today.