Why Idea Dumping Makes You A Zen Master (Or At Least A Better Writer)

Making your right side of the brain work in tandem with your left side of the brain is hard work. Trying to mix creativity with procedures and orders usually goes together about as well as oil and water. For most people, the left side of the brain is what’s used most in our orderly, bullet-point world. I may be in the minority because I tend to use more of my right side of the brain. (Actually that may be a slight understatement. Typically for me, the right side of my brain whips my left side into submission daily. Needless to say, there’s usually not much working together between the two.)

However, if you can coax the two sides of your noodle to play nicely, some great things can happen. You’ll enter a Zen-like state of productivity, with all cylinders of your conscious pumping and working towards a common goal. You’ll accomplish tasks without even thinking, and you’ll accomplish them faster because you’re actually using both sides of your brain. Now that is productivity.

So how do we achieve this supreme state? Well, we stimulate the side that tends to be lazier: the right side. Chris at Pearsonified recommends doing stream-of-conscious writing. This is more or less a glorified Idea Dump: writing down whatever poops pops out of your head. Do that for 15 minutes and you should knock any cobwebs out of that lazy right side of the brain. Here’s how you’ll know if it’s working.

Your right brain tends to see the entire picture at once, and as a result, it cannot extrapolate minor details in an orderly fashion. If your writing comes out looking pretty refined and cogent, then that’s a good indicator that your left brain is trying to stick its nose where it doesn’t belong.

The bottom line is that your goal is simply to unleash the creative chaos in the right brain, temporarily freeing it from the suffocating bully that is your left brain.

If the two sides aren’t working together, productivity lags. So warm up the side that is typically repressed, and you’ll find more freedom in what you’re doing. I myself haven’t done much with stream-of-conscious writing, but prefer to mix things up a bit by giving my mind a chance to wander. To-may-to, to-mah-to. Whatever your own technique, just make sure you’re thinking creatively.

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  • glen November 22, 2006, 4:36 pm

    Glad to see it actually works for other people. Yeah, those timers can scare the geebus out of you if you’re really not ready for it to go off ;)

  • equinedee November 22, 2006, 1:05 pm

    Fantastic post and very timely as I’m currently ‘blog browsing’ in avoidance of posting my own. I always expect this to get the juices flowing and it so rarely works.

    I tried the ten minute ‘zen’ moment and other than the atrocious typing/spelling, I’m pretty happy with my reenergized creativity.

    Thanks for a great post!
    -D

    p.s. I’m going to rethink the eggtimer idea, however, as I nearly soiled myself when it went off.

  • Brian Westover November 22, 2006, 11:36 am

    I’m a writer myself, and one of the things I try to do regularly is to do a big ‘idea dump’ and then later go through it and try to logically look at each item. It’s especially helpful as a brainstorming technique.