How Do I Get an Endless Source of Ideas

John Chang
Jan 21, 2016 · 3 min read
Photo: via Unsplash

So I want to get rid of this idea of “writer’s block” — instead I’d like to suggest that there’s really only a choice between two mindsets — scarcity versus abundance.

We can choose either to believe that there’s a world of ideas to explore and write about, or that “all the good ones are taken.”

Actually, I think it’s pretty arrogant. Sitting there being depressed about being stuck is like believing that you know more than the universe. Come on, there’s nothing that you’re the least bit curious about?

Now I should address that this is not the clinical type of depression that writer Jenny Lawson talks about in Furiously Happy. That kind is a very real mental illness resulting from any number of chemical imbalances where your brain, as she says, literally “tries to kill you.”

Jenny talks about mountain climbers who are found frozen naked because their brains tricked them into believing that they were boiling. During my flight training in the navy they put us in a pressure chamber that simulated high altitude where you brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs. So, I can speak from experience that, while our bodies are amazing machines, they also have parts that can quickly go downhill and make our lives pretty f’d up in a heartbeat.

Sadly, more than one great artist who seemed to “have it all” didn’t have a cure for this. (R.I.P. Robin Williams — oh, Captain, my Captain..)

No, I’m talking about when you do have a choice, and we choose a road too often chosen. Maybe as I mentioned last time it’s the myth perpetuated by even the most accomplished artists like Hemingway — that creativity is about suffering and struggle.

Years a friend of mine asked me why pain is so closely tied to art. I didn’t have a very good answer at the time. But now I realize that life is struggle sprinkled with moments of sheer bliss and delicious joy.

My own mom says “laugh now, cry later” in the way that only Asian mothers can, but it is a lot like the way only a Jewish muter can. While there’s truth in this, isn’t it sad to spend your precious gold on crap when you can have just as easily enjoyed a delicious meal with friends?

Again, I realize that sometimes this is easier said than done. It does take courage.. and maybe, just maybe a bit of curiosity.

Lately, I’ve been sharing Liz Gilbert’s approach of suggesting that the typical “follow your passion” is not only dangerous but may do more harm than good. It’s usually tied to the “push through the fear and do it anyway” attitude.

Believe me, I’ve faced my own fears and feel incredibly lucky at times to have survived. I wouldn’t wish some of my darkest moments on anyone.

Instead, I love the suggestion that curiosity is a way to test and try out little experiments to see what works for you. On a recent talk with Colin Wright we talked about how blessed he feels to pursue things that make him curious.

Walt Disney quote via Pinterest

I agree. Lately, when I get up in the morning, I’m curious what words will flow.. I’m curious where my ideas will take me.. I’m curious who might be interested in these..

I wonder where will curiosity take us today?

Okay, I know, I know.. some of you are saying, “Come on, give me the secret sauce. I want the 1–2–3 step formula to avoiding writer’s block. Here it is.”

This was Day 18 of #My500Words challenge.

For more on curiosity and discovering your creativity visit Butterfly Formula. To join other Indie Creatives who won’t let you fail visit us on Blab, or to follow my food travel and digital nomad journey visit Tango Vagabond.

John Chang

Written by

sharing #IndieCreative entrepreneur’s journeys - author, speaker, film maker, part-time world traveller, full-time foodie, poker addict, tango dancer