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.
Your mental filters work extremely well…too well. Truthfully speaking, your brain actually operates too efficiently in regard to the creative process.
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.
You need four things to get started:
1. A motivating idea or problem
2. A timer
3. A pad of paper
4. A pen.
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.)
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.