How to Generate More Ideas
Than You Ever Imagined
Many years ago, I went diamond mining in Arkansas. It was the dirtiest activity in which I’ve ever engaged. All we did was dig through dirt looking for that one gem – which we never found!
Tapping into your creativity can be like that – you’ll have to move a lot of dirt to find that one diamond of an idea.
Bob Sands here, and I’m back with day two of The Writer’s Life. We began yesterday to look at the first key to developing infinite creativity. Today we look at the second, which is this:
In order to get a few good ideas, you’re going to have to generate a lot!
In order to do that, there’s one proven “mining” technique that works like few others – free writing. Free writing is the best friend for anyone who has to generate a lot of ideas, especially for us as writers.
Free writing (which is a writing process, not writing for free!) is just what it sounds like. It’s opening a document on your computer or putting a pen to the page and writing whatever comes to mind. Often I’ll focus on a topic I’m interested in and explore what I know. You can do the same thing. Here’s how to make it work for you …
First, write rapidly. Simply begin writing as fast as you can or as fast as your pen or fingers will take you. Why is this important? Your inner critic doesn’t have time to argue with you! If you make a mistake, don’t go back and correct it, keep going. This will challenge your perfectionism. When you know you’ve misspelled or misstated, resist the urge to backtrack.
Second, write continuously. This is also called “writing against the clock.” Force yourself to write for a predetermined amount of time. I’ll often play my music or white noise on my iPod and set the timer for 20 minutes. When the alarm sounds, I stop.
Third, write imperfectly. All you’re doing is dumping ideas on the page. So, dump! One of the major issues that writers face is trying to get it perfect the first time out. When you’re reading something brilliant, remember all the hard work which preceded it. An imperfect first draft allows you to keep the pressure at bay. Forget rules of grammar like dangling participles, passive voice and run-on sentences. There will be plenty of time in future drafts to revise, edit and tighten.
It’s good to save all of your free writing, too. You never know where a sentence here or a paragraph there could turn into something valuable later.
Need more and better ideas? Take 10 minutes sometime today, get a pen or open a document on your computer and start writing about a topic you’re working on. Then watch the magic happen. You’ll uncover a lot of good ideas, and it will be a lot less messy than my diamond mining experience – and more profitable!
How do you generate your ideas? What tools do you use? Please share them with me below.
And be sure to come back tomorrow as I share the one thing you can begin to do right away that will fill your well of creativity to overflowing.
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