Float Pod for Writing Skills

Yes, you read that title correctly: “Float Pod for Writing Skills.” No, it doesn’t mean you have to take a notebook and pen with you into your float pod sessions. You’d never be able to keep the pages dry. And it’s pretty dark in there for writing, anyway. This is more about float pod as a boost to creativity, which I first wrote about a couple years ago. If you don’t want to follow the link, that post describes how float pod induces a mental “twilight state.” It’s a state that is conducive to creativity. And researchers have found that the relaxation and creativity persist after the twilight state is over.

I recently came across a provocative 2001 research paper (PDF) from a journal called RASK International Journal of Language and Communication. Swedish researchers found that flotation REST  (i.e., restricted environmental stimulation therapy) increases originality in student compositions.

An Experiment with Student Writing

First, the experiment. The researchers gathered 60 Swedish undergraduate students who were enrolled in their first semester of an advanced English as a second language (ESL) course. As part of this study, the students all had one hour to write an essay based on the words ambition, choice, ring, and disappointment.

But before writing the essay, each of the students went through one of three 45-minute exercises. Students in the control group sat in armchairs and read magazines. Those in the flotation REST group floated. Students in the stressed group had 45 minutes’ worth of stressful tests, such as the color-word test. (In the color-word test, you identify as quickly as possible the colors in which sets of words are printed. The stressful part is that the words don’t match the colors. For example, the word “yellow” might be printed in red, so while looking at the word “yellow,” you must identify it as “red.”)

Float Pod for Writing Skills

Evaluators then scored the students’ essays for the qualities of elaboration, language vividness, originality, fantasy, and social realism. They also evaluated the essays for the fundamentals of literacy: grammar, punctuation, paragraph structure, and so on. The essays did fine on literacy, and the paper didn’t discuss that aspect very much.

Statistically, the scores were similar across all three groups, except for two dimensions. The stressed group scored higher than the others for social realism. And the flotation REST group scored much higher than the others on originality. Originality is arguably the single biggest stumbling block for aspiring writers. That’s why I think the finding suggests that float pod can make you a better writer, whether English is your second language or your first.

The Value of Downtime

There has been a great deal of research in recent years on the value of downtime. Quality downtime contributes to both moral thinking and reasoning, as well as creativity. And there’s no downtime like a float pod session. It’s 45 minutes without responsibilities — a brief hiatus without the demands of job, friends, or family. And now we know that it is not only relaxing, but that it may help to bring out your inner Jane Austen.

Finish (or start!) your novel. Book a float pod session or two today.

Photo: “notebook metashot” by Scott Rettberg. Creative Commons license.