Clearing Out the Rubbish
Welcome to the course!
I’m K.C. Finn, multi-award-winning and bestselling author of young adult, fantasy, and horror fiction. Over the next ten sessions, you’ll complete daily activities to enhance brain power, followed by creative thinking and writing exercises that will generate fantastic ideas. Not only will you be able to produce these amazing concepts, but your brain will also slowly train itself into working harder and at a higher power level than before: a valuable skill for a creative lifestyle!
We begin today with the first stage of a three-step process to clear your mind of unwanted thoughts. After you learn to empty your head, we’ll kickstart your brain into action and clear any stresses that pop up along the way!
Not all meditation is, or should be, relaxing. Meditation is a method of clearing the mind of unnecessary or destructive thoughts, such as those little voices that tell us we can’t achieve our dreams or everyday struggles that get in the way of true creativity.
Today, I’ll introduce you to an active method of meditation that comes from the world of writing. In creative writing classes, writers often use “free writing” as a means of getting themselves going, allowing the pen to touch the page and just write what it wants to. Some writers have adapted this method into a daily practice to clear the mind and prime for deeper thinking. So, here’s my adapted version that works for all forms of creativity, which I like to call the “Daily Brain Dump”:
• Grab yourself a notebook—a cheap one, bargain basement style.
• Declare to yourself that this is where all the trash from your mind is going, leaving you with the good stuff for the rest of the day. I’d say get one that’s at least A5 in size. If you’ve a very busy mind, then bigger is always better.
• Every working day that you want to engage your creativity should start with this book, open at a fresh page. The task is to write three pages, jotting down everything that comes into your head: thoughts for the day, shopping lists, ideas of what you’d like to work on, random expletives—anything! Once the three pages are full, you stop.
Now that we have a pile of trash, we can go digging for the scraps that have value. You might find that there’s very little in your Daily Brain Dump that is of value on some days, while on others, there’ll be plenty of ideas to work with. The point of the exercise is that you can clearly tell the good ideas from the bad and the important factors from the unimportant ones.
So, take a pen of a different color and examine your three pages. Mark off any emotions or worries that might be getting in the way. Highlight anything related to your project that is productive or helpful. These ideas might be transferred into a proper project book for future use. You can also use your Brain Dump pages to prioritize the things most on your mind and perhaps get those out of the way to allow your creativity to flow past them.
Some people believe that if they’re not a writer, then writing three pages a day is a big ask. Believe it or not, writers are actually some of the people who have the most trouble with this kind of exercise. We’re all thinkers. Everyone has a stream of consciousness running through their heads all the time, filled with their daily lives and everything that’s important to them in some way. Writers are trained to edit this stream down into the most concise and effective way of expressing themselves, so allowing their brains to fall out onto the page freely can be a very upsetting experience!
Nevertheless, it’s vital to allow yourself freedom if you want to maximize your creative potential. Fear is almost as bad as stress for hampering creativity, so any concerns you have about throwing everything at your project must go out the window. With this technique, you can throw all those ideas out there in a safe space and allow yourself time to reflect on which ones are worthwhile. This is a great confidence booster because you know you’ve explored multiple options every day and come out with the best mindset that you can to tackle the day’s projects.
Tomorrow, we’ll move onto Stage 2 of our mental clearout: kickstarting the brain for creative action.
See you tomorrow!
Julia Cameron has a great video about what she calls “Morning Pages,” a very similar idea to the Brain Dump. Watch it here at The Artist’s Way.
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