Does your brain ever just stop working? Right when you need inspiration – for sizzling, compelling ideas for your blog, your website, for a new video, a tele-class, or autoresponder emails – you find that minutes, even hours go by and nothing comes.
Instead, all that’s happened is that little Zen Garden on your desk is full of meticulous wavy lines, you’ve wished happy birthday to 10 people on Facebook, and your tummy is rumbling.
You’re left staring at the blank screen or page into that small but intimidating camera lens, and NOTHING comes. Or, just as bad, what comes is so painfully bad and clichéd and embarrassingly mediocre that you can see your readers (namely those that are stupid enough to get past the lukewarm heading) collectively rolling their eyes and wondering how they are going to get back those 5 minutes they just lost to eternity.
Meanwhile you’re wondering how to get back those 5 hours you lost down the rabbit hole, pursuing an elusive muse.
Where does inspiration come from? I can’t tell you for sure, but I do know lots of cool ways to help it land. And here are a couple that have helped me move through some serious roadblocks in my business:
Be curious – notice everything that’s going on around you. You’ve got your direct sensory experience first. What are you seeing, hearing, etc. I do this thing call ‘Insight walking’ where I ask a question in my mind and then open to the response from my surrounds.
I remember a while back I was preparing for a teleclass on “Being Out There and Owning It,” and was getting stuck. I hadn’t done a class for a while and had lost my groove. I decided to take a walk to clear my mind.
The first thing I saw was a squirrel scurrying away, then another, then a Blue Jay issuing frantic warning cries, then the siren of a fire truck, then more creatures fleeing for the undergrowth. Definitely a bit of the theme there! I realized that the message of the class definitely revolved around a deep primal fear of being exposed. Something I too had felt many times.
I found a place to sit, and scanned the panorama of the lake, asking the question: “What do I really want to say?” And right then, through Pandora radio in my left ear, John Mayer was singing: “Say what you need to say.”
I realized I needed to come clean about my own fears and trepidations, and so I did.
It went really well, by the way.
I invite you to do the same. Take your question for a walk, then notice your surrounds on a sensory level, and then notice your internal response on a mental, physical and emotion level. Notice your opinions, your judgements, your fears and joys.
Then write or speak about it. It’s very freeing.
‘Daily dreamtime’ – as entrepreneurs it’s so easy to fill the day with stuff to do and lose sight of the bigger vision. So here’s something I’ve learnt to do each day to remind myself how important it is to create a rich environment for ideas to land and take root.
It’s really simple: each day, do something you love that isn’t directly related to your work. Even if it’s for 30 mins or so. Something that doesn’t involve thinking. It could be a sport, sitting on a deck with the beverage of your choice, cooking, art, listening to music, crafting, a relaxing bath, dancing, reading a novel.
Have a notebook handy (or some other way of recording insights, such as voice memo, video etc.) because when you’re having fun your mind opens, the ideas begin to flow and you give yourself permission px7 primal flow reviews to dream again. I don’t know about you, but if I get to serious and caught up in my work, I can forget why I’m doing this in the first place and it loses it’s magic.
I created an entire video course as a direct result of ‘daily dreamtime.’ It works!
‘Clear Stream Writing’ – when I lived in Asia I was a freelance writer, earning my living writing feature articles for magazines and newspapers. I needed to stay on top of my game to keep my edge. One way I did it was through this ‘clear stream writing’ technique.
One exercise I’d do is start with a word (it could be the theme of my article for example) and then write for 15 minutes without stopping, exploring this topic from all angles. I found it best to write freehand rather than on a computer because I helped me with my out of the box thinking.
Why 15 minutes? Well, it takes about 10 minutes of continuous writing to push beyond the conscious mind to the subconscious wisdom. Try it. You’ll notice that some of your richest insights come after the 10 minute mark. 20 minutes is even better.
When I taught creative writing skills I made sure my students knew these three basic guidelines:
Capture first impressions – this is really brainstorming. Don’t censor your thoughts, just capture them as they come. Stay curious.
Keep the pen moving. This will help stimulate flow of ideas. If you’re stuck write ‘f$%k f&^k I’m stuck stuck, or something like that, until another thought window opens. Don’t stop writing. Seriously, you’ll feel the difference when you try it.
Let yourself write drivel – In the words of the great Ernest Hemingway, “99% of what I write is shit.” Meaning he didn’t edit those first thoughts, instead he wrote them down and then edited later to highlight the gems. Remember, writing and editing are two entirely different skills. Don’t confuse them.