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How to Release the Creative Ideas Living Inside Your Head

How to Release the Creative Ideas Living Inside Your Head

We live in an innovative age, and ideas operate as the currency of today’s creativity-based economy. Unless you contribute to the universal chorus of fresh ideas, you will quickly descend into obscurity.

So, how do you purposefully and intentionally unlock and release all the creative ideas living inside your head?

I recently returned to “freewriting”, an old and often overlooked method for finding new ideas lurking in our heads, and I experienced incredible results.

The Premise

Your mental filters work extremely well…too well. Truthfully speaking, your brain actually operates too efficiently in regard to the creative process.

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When attempting to brainstorm, your mind constantly sifts your ideas through the multiple filters of history, reality, rationality and prudence. Consequently, you end up brainstorming and processing at the same time.

In order to tap into your creative potential, you need to mentally divide and conquer.

Freewriting blocks your mental filters, allowing your brain to generate a large volume of ideas without interruption. Releasing your mind from common restrictions allows those new and fresh ideas to flow.

The Process

You need four things to get started:

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1. A motivating idea or problem

2. A timer

3. A pad of paper

4. A pen.

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Set the timer for ten minutes, start writing…and do not stop until here you hear that buzz.

Never lift the pen from the paper. Do not look around. Do not re-read. Silence your phone and your computer. Just write.

Write whatever comes out of your brain. If you feel stuck, write the nonsense that is always in your brain. Write the last word of the previous sentence over and over until your brain gives you a new thought.

Do not try to sound like a genius and do not focus on grammar, punctuation, tenses, spelling, etc. If you get frustrated, keep writing. (You might want to write, “This is really frustrating” a few times in a row.)

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The Payoff

When the timer goes off, you will see a whole lot of nonsense and a couple of really, really great ideas. And if at first you don’t see anything worth while, let it sit and revisit it later. In the meantime, repeat the timer exercise and sooner or later you’re bound to fester up an idea worth expanding upon. There have been countless times when ideas I at first thought were useless turned out to be gold mines later on down the road.

From there you can launch into the deeper mental process of exploring what you wrote and why you wrote it.

Here is an excerpt from one of my own sessions, focusing on the issue of building better habits in my life:

  • “How can I take this to the next level? What specific steps can I take? How can I keep going? Going? Going? And sustain.
  • “That’s the real issue, isn’t it? Sustaining. Sustaining. (great subject for a new book) How do I overcome the fact that I am all QuickStart and no FollowThrough? How to sustain? Perseverance. Thesaurus.
  • “I need to get my hands around sustaining a habit BEFORE I take any first steps in establishing a habit. Talk to Karen and about this. Talk to the team? Training topic for clients? Sustaining. Sustaining. Sustaining.”

Hidden in my stream of consciousness writing I found some key thoughts, ideas and actions that I explored on a deeper level once I released them from my head.

Your head holds an amazing number of new, original, good ideas. Learn to turn off your mental filters and tap into your own creative depths …go write…and you might just change your world!

If you want to learn more about this topic, I highly recommend a book entitled Accidental Genius by Mark Levy. The book is an easy-to-follow guide for how to generate ideas and content through writing.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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