Most writers understand the need to feed a creative mind. We must constantly be reading, viewing, listening to, and absorbing content for us to continue generating new and interesting ideas. I spend a least 65% of my day learning new things and supplying my meme-obsessed mind with things to prime it for brainstorming and fleshing out new stories.
But there is one other thing I do that has dramatically improved the quality of what comes out of my head. I’ve started setting aside time each day to do nothing but this one activity.
I’ve always been a big daydreamer and have a very active fantasy world going on in my skull. I’ve very recently started giving that part of my mind free reign. I’ll lay somewhere cool and dark, close my eyes, and start my thinking down a path. Where it goes from there, I never know. I lie there for as long as I need for a steady stream of ideas to start surfacing. I have to keep my phone handy, so I can keep track of the treasure my imagination starts to spill.
It is a great process and necessary for me to keep the idea train moving down the tracks. But, not everyone thinks my lying in bed thinking is a good thing.
Take my wife, for instance.
If for any reason, I am not doing something that looks like work to her, she will let me know. I’ve only recently gotten her to admit that yes, writing is work.
But, reading is not work.
Being on social media is not work.
Ruminating is definitely not work.
I am having fun with her, but the truth is — this is the way she grew up. I think she knows that I work hard. Not only do I spend hours writing, but I research, read, learn, promote on social media (very important), and yes, ruminate. She’s an online English teacher! She knows how tiring it can be staring at a computer for hours.
But, she isn’t the only one that doesn’t understand creatives.
- My parents didn’t understand my need to lock myself in my bedroom with my books and half-used wire-bound notebooks, dreaming of worlds light-years away, where magic still worked, and dragons sparkled in the sky.
- Every time someone asks what I do, and I tell them I’m a writer, they look at me like they want to say, “No, what you do for work!”
Most people don’t understand that the job of a creative is 80% in our heads. Yes, we are writers, painters, UI designers, photographers, and crafters, but most of our work uses brainpower and not sweat.
It’s difficult to work using every part of our brain. That’s why we need to shut ourselves down and allow our pent-up minds to be free. My mind, in the best of times, behaves like a caged animal. When I let it free to think every crazy little thought it wants to — it is more willing to go back in the cage when it’s time for me to bang on the keyboard.
It also comes up with some of my best ideas. You wouldn’t think a mind as disordered as mine could come up with anything intelligent or unique, but it would surprise you. I am an idea-machine, and the more time I spend ruminating, the better my ideas are.
Add This to Your Routine
You probably don’t think that adding one more thing to your already hectic schedule will help, but it will.
Find time to read. Make time to brainstorm. Research. Meme until you can’t stand looking at another cat again. When you are all finished, shut yourself down.
- Put on some soft classical music.
- Wrap yourself in a comfy blanket.
- Turn off the lights and close your eyes.
- Let your mind wander.
Keep a notebook or a note-taking app close so you can record the rush of ideas.
The time you spend ruminating will be some of the most creative and productive time you spend during your day. Make time to do nothing and let your mind wander aimlessly.
You never know where it might take you!