If you want to learn how your brain works, rests, sleeps, processes, you could do well by slogging through Eric R. Kandel's book, "The Age of Insight." (The paywalled Wall Street Journal review is here.)
The reason I like Kandel's book so much is simple. Kandel, a Nobel-Prize-winner, a doctor, Columbia University professor and a neuroscientist, gives you and your brain permission to goof off.
So much of modern "hustle" bullshit culture and ad agency McKinsey'd time-sheet-shibboleth-mania is about optimizing, maximizing and efficiency. We're supposed to have no downtime, use every moment of every week to work. We're supposed to be multitasking while we're multitasking, billing two hours every thirty minutes and through a system of modern-day Corvee, not even get paid for the overtime we toil.
Kandel and "The Age of Insight" give you permission to rest, restore and regenerate your brain. But the great writer Delmore Schwartz wrote, "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities."
That being the case, I've created a corollary expression that like Castor and Pollux should be linked to Schwartz's. "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities to Have a Pad on Your Night-table to Write Things Down."
As someone who writes every day for a living, I am constantly on the hook. Every day, I have a job. I have to find an idea and write about it. (That's in addition to my paying job.)
Many of these ideas spin out from my brain while I am deep in REM-sleep after vanquishing my almost-nightly battle against insomnia. Many of the ads I write and the destinations I arrive at in my work for clients emerge from the swirl of connections that stew together when we sleep, shower, walk and wonder.
Accordingly, I have for about two-dozen years been as obsessive-compulsive as a keen athlete. The ideas I have I assiduously write down. I write them without editing. Almost always without turning on the lights, so I can hardly see when I write until I wake up in the morning.
We have to recognize the freedom of our brains; I mean our brain's need for freedom to play and think. If you're smart about it, for your brain play and think go together like holding company agencies and income-inequality.
Last night, in my sleep, I dreamt two blog posts.
They were good.
But I was spooning comfortably with Morpheus and fought successfully against removing myself from his grip. Though these posts sprung fully-formed from my head, I failed to write them down.
I had dreamed posts right down to their titles. (One of which was 'Crying in our Croissants.') But they each evaporated because I failed to write them down.
I trusted my subconscious memory and screwed my subconscious brain.