The phrase “thinking cap” or “considering cap” goes back at least 400 years, probably much longer since by the time it first appeared in print, the phrase needed no definition. Most people assume the cap has always been metaphoric, but donning a real cap can help focus one’s thoughts.
In an odd twist, “dunce cap,” which has become synonymous with stupidity and foolishness, started out as a thinking cap. John Duns Scotus, a master philosopher born in 1266 in Duns, Scotland, believed that wearing a high conical cap helped funnel knowledge to the brain. (He’d noted that wizards wore them.) In the 1600’s, when his philosophies were ridiculed as foolish and obtuse, the dunce cap became known not as thinking cap but a fool’s cap.
Scientists today have created a high-tech thinking cap that stimulates the brain and seems to increase creativity, but you don’t need hi-tech devices. If you are dealing with writer’s block, for example, you can use colored caps.
How color vision actually works is still a mystery, but there is no mystery about the profound effect color has on human physiology. Red tends to raise blood pressure, increase pulse rate, and excite brain waves. Blue tends to have the reverse effect, and green tends to be neutral.
So, if you wish to increase your creativity, try a little color therapy. It can’t hurt; at the very least it will give you something besides your computer screen or those same old walls to stare at. And it has the benefit of being exceedingly simple. All you have to do is choose your color from the following list, wear it, hang it on the wall, find a knickknack or a bouquet of flowers that color to put on your desk, then focus on it.
Purple will boost your creativity, and help stimulate your intuitive abilities.
Yellow can help you feel optimistic if your blockage is making you anxious and depressed. It can also induce enlightenment, which is what you are looking for.
Dark blue encourages meditative thinking, so it’s especially helpful if are having difficulty focusing.
Green helps promote harmony if your inability to write is making you irritable.
Red will energize you if you’re too tired to think.
Even if the color therapy doesn’t bring about the effect you wish, playing around with all those colors will give your mind a rest from writing, and perhaps when you return to your keyboard, the problem will have resolved itself.
A couple of other suggestions to cap off this article: you can give your character a thinking cap, such as Sherlock Holmes’ deerstalker cap, which might help you refocus on your story.
Or you can forget writing altogether, put on any hat, go for a walk and let your thoughts wander — that’s what I do.
Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+