While listening to a podcast where an accomplished writer was being interviewed about his creative process, he mentioned he does most on his writing while walking. Huh? He mentioned he walks 2-3 times daily and only takes with him a small notepad and pen to write down ideas while he’s out and about. He says he can’t get into writing mode when he sits down in front of the computer and forces himself to do it. His best ideas always come during his walks.
I thought about my own process of getting ideas, and it usually goes like this. Although I usually drive while listening to podcasts (I stopped listening to sports radio or music a while back), sometimes I turn the radio off. These are the times when an idea pops into my head out of the blue. It’s not something I saw on the road or the like. It’s almost as if my brain was working on a problem, and then spit out the solution. It seems like listening to static road noise is very conducive to receiving ideas. Maybe my conscious brain gets distracted and the door of the subconscious opens.
I paid little attention when I first noticed this trend, but one day I told myself I would look into it later. However, a funny thing would tend to happen. Later that evening when I was sitting in my home going over my day, I could not remember what the idea was about. I could vaguely remember the feeling I had when I thought about it, but not the action I was supposed to do. It’s almost as if the idea had appeared to me, waited for me to take action, and when I did not, it moved to someone else. I wonder if it then jumps to the next car!
Going back to the aforementioned podcast, they say you should follow the methods of those whom you admire, so I decided to bring paper and pencil on my walks (yes, recently I started walking consistently, but that story is for another post). I leave my trusty phone at home because I don’t want any distractions. The first time I did this, I filled two pages worth of notes while walking 3 miles (almost 5 km). I am now convinced there is something to this process. While we are walking, driving, gardening, or doing anything where the conscious mind is not engaged, we open ourselves to receiving ideas (don’t ask me from where because your guess is as good as mine).
Today’s idea (hehehe) is to be mindful of ideas. First, in order to receive them, make time to do nothing by yourself. I know, that’s difficult in today’s society, but I have faith in you. Do something you enjoy doing and get into a state where you are not thinking about solving problems, you are just being. And when the ideas appear, don’t dismiss them because you don’t comprehend them. They could be a wake-up call to something you should be doing instead of just floating though life like a leaf in the wind. And I urge you to write them down as soon as they pop up, because later they may be as hard to catch as smoke or clouds. Embrace ideas as soon as you encounter them and make them yours.