Have you ever forced yourself to sit at a computer to write a report, story etc without giving any forethought to it?
It’s likely your mind went blank and not much ended up on the screen.
Most of the time when I am about to write something, particularly something creative, I need to give myself time to mentally prepare for it. Believe me, I’ve had the idea for this blog post in my head for weeks! By mentally prepare, I don’t mean spending hours tirelessly figuring it out. Often the best way to develop your ideas is to not actively think about them. This is where the formula below comes in.
Inspiration + Incubation = Realisation
Let me give you an example.
I tutor university students in several disciplines where reflective writing is an assessed component of the course. Reflective writing isn’t something that comes easily to everyone and there’s a reason why it’s called reflective – you need time to ponder. When students come to me concerned that they won’t be able to write reflectively, I encourage them to follow the formula above. Not in those specific words!
A real-life reflective writing topic I have given to students was to write about their first day at university. Rather than write the first thing that came into their heads, I said that they should feed the idea (inspiration) into their minds of what they needed to write or would like to write before they left university that day.
It was most likely that the students would drive their car/catch a bus home, maybe go to their casual job, exercise or have a chat to someone before they thought about writing the reflective piece again.
That is when the magic happens.
Like a fertilised egg needs to be incubated to grow into a healthy chick, so does a great idea. By carrying an idea around in your mind, it takes on a life of its own. All of a sudden more ideas seemingly pop out of nowhere, and so the original idea grows and evolves.
There was a stark contrast between those students who went through the process above (consciously or sub-consciously) and those who didn’t. Those who didn’t described, rather than gave thought as to what they had done on that first day. It was almost a mechanical run-down of “I did this, then this, then that”. Those who went through the process looked like they were having fun recounting their thoughts and feelings, some even likened their first day of university with their first day of primary school. They carefully crafted their thoughts around not wanting to let go of their mother’s hand, metaphorically speaking, hoping they would find a friendly face – someone to become friends with and horror of all horrors walking into the wrong classroom.
The same principle applies to writing a book. It’s extremely difficult to sit down and write a book without giving it much prior thought. Some people may have a clear idea of the topic they’d like to write about, but they still need time to develop the idea – to gain inspiration and incubate the idea. Others may need that time to work out what the idea even is.
My advice is to have fun with the process.
Draw inspiration from all over the place – the wind in the trees, a silly cat video, a conversation with a friend.
Then give yourself time to incubate the idea.
Welcome the growth and evolution of the idea, so that it ultimately become a realisation – when it is brought to life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences around these ideas, please add a comment or send me a message.
In Your Words