Behavioral Science and Art: Don’t Overthink Writing

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Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC & Ignite STEAM Labs

Writing, painting, sculpting, music production…the creative process is the same.

Such modes of expression can be thought of as a myriad of creative or artistic topographies.  In the creative or artistic sense, the act of expressing oneself to the world generates stimulus products – words, ink, paint, clay, sounds, etc… – that acquire reinforcing functions for the creator.  Many such functions are automatically reinforcing, and linked to one’s relational network of symbolic language.  The creative process itself can also serve escape functions or help the creator defuse from experiences that may work against their own wellbeing.

Such stimulus products also acquire evocative functions for the recipient, reader, listener, or consumer, that are again tied to their own experiences of the world embedded within language.

In my experience as a writer, I have found that our own language often acts as a barrier to creativity.  In short, we “overthink” and unnecessarily constrain ourselves and our creativity in the process.

Creativity is about expressing yourself.  It is about letting go of society’s constraints.  It is about spontaneity.  It is about tracking your own reinforcers.  And it can be very liberating.

So, the next time you have a writing project, don’t overthink it.  Put whatever words come up for you down on the page, and don’t worry about if it makes sense or not.  Once you put words down, you will begin to respond to your own stimulus products on the page and simply let your thoughts come out (or let your language be evoked).  You will naturally find that your ideas will start clumping together, and natural points of refinement and coherence will emerge.

Related Article – Behavioral Science and Art: A Manifesto

If you are interested in the intersection of behavioral science and art, check out Ignite STEAM Labs – the non-profit innovation arm of ENSO Group. Ignite STEAM Labs creates science-based art and art-based science to extend the appetitiveness of behavioral science to larger audiences, not by talking about behavioral science, but by affecting others through the science.

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org.  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org

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