It’s no secret you have to make room in your life for what you want. New clothes are lost in an overstuffed closet. Artwork displayed cheek-by-jowl causes individual pieces to lose their impact. And lack of head space can cause a writer to experience a dearth of new ideas.
Let’s face it: Life can be one big ball of overstimulation. There are texts to return, social media to keep up with, news bombarding you from the street corner, the radio, the internet, and work, home, and hopefully, a social life, too. For a writer looking for new ideas, these stimuli can crowd themselves into your mind, leaving little room to flex your idea-generating muscles. Instead of having room to stretch and expand, your mind darts from your calendar to your to-do list to the latest bit of celebrity gossip and back again like a toddler in a room full of lollipops.
No wonder writers sometimes find it difficult to come up with something new. Our head space is already full — the no vacancy sign is turned on and its electronic glare blinds us to those new concepts that remain just out of our line of vision. It’s a frustrating thing, and hard to avoid in today’s world of pervasive connectedness, but I’ve got a few tricks that might help you make a little room in the old noggin for those new ideas to gestate.
Some things, like constant electronic bombardment, are part and parcel of modern living. But that doesn’t mean you have to subject your brain to them day in and day out. There are several ways you can short-circuit your monkey brain’s frenetic need for activity and get some quiet time.
Everyone’s different, so once you have your time, find the right combination of activities to fire up your synapses. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:
It’s hard to go from full speed ahead to coasting, so give yourself a transition. Take ten minutes at the beginning of your time and do something to take your mind off of whatever tasks you’d been working on up till then. Meditate, take a shower, do a repetitive task like knitting or even chopping vegetables for dinner, or engage in some slow yoga or gentle stretching. Just let your mind be present in whatever calming activity you choose and your mind will begin to ease up on the throttle.
Every creative person is turned on by something different. Think about what sparks your creativity. Is it listening to music? Random doodling? Napping? Listening to audiobooks? Floating in the pool and staring at the clouds? Reading? Walking in a forest? Driving? Choose several options and cycle through them to keep things fresh. I get some of my best ideas while listening to non-fiction audiobooks while walking, although a soak in the tub with a glass of wine and some soft music yields results for me, too. Don’t restrict your choices, just do what gets your juices flowing.
Who hasn’t had the most amazing idea only to find it’s faded into obscurity and you only have the vaguest recollection of it. Don’t let that happen to you! Record your ideas as soon as they come to you. Keep a pad and paper with you, make notes on your phone or even record your epiphanies on a voice app.
Once you get in the habit of scheduling some downtime, your mind will get the hang of powering down. Then it’ll become easier for you to find your idea zone even in the middle of a busy day. When you’re in the habit of clearing your mind at regular intervals, you’ll find that those intervals begin popping up more frequently, even outside of your regularly scheduled “idea appointments.” You’ll find it easier to be in the flow while driving the kids to soccer practice, eating lunch at your desk, or mowing the lawn, and you’ll learn to appreciate being unplugged for the sheer creative joy of it!
See you on the next page!