From what I have read here and there, I've managed to stitch together some superficial understanding of focus and creativity. My understanding is that focus and creativity seem like opposites.
I've seen references (which all seem to originate from a coursera course on learning) to two distinct "modes of thought". One called 'Focused' and one called 'Diffuse'. In focused mode, we focus on doing something we already know how to do. In Diffuse mode, we don't focus on a specific task we are instead searching for a way to do something, until we come up with an idea - it is at that point we focus on completing a task.
Whether this view of thought is scientifically grounded or not, there does seem to be some truth to it: the default mode network, whose activity is reduced during certain types of meditation (at least, according to wikipedia), from what i can understand is linked to creativity . The explanation of this default mode seems similar to the "diffuse" mode of thought.
It seems (at least, to me), that focus and creativity are opposites - which makes sense in some ways. But is it really so?
Are creativity and focus competitive as far as the brain structures that support these are concerned? That is, if I improve my ability to focus, will it interfere with my ability to be creative? This seems somewhat ridiculous to me, but I suspect it's only because I want to believe it isn't so. For the moment, my understanding is that creativity and focus are separate, and require "switching" between them, which leads to the next question:
Are creativity and focus competitive as far as brain activity goes? that is, if I try to focus on something right now, will it interfere with my ability to be creative? If I focus on solving a problem I know how to solve, I probably won't be looking for a creative solution (also, there is the Einstellung effect). But does the same mechanism responsible for maintaining or focus interfere with our ability to be creative at the moment?