Slow and Steady Idea Generation

In today's digital age, no one has time for anything, even for slowing down and allowing their minds to wander. So in this blog post, I'll share with you some ideas about generating...well...ideas, while slowing down enough so that your ideas can flow more freely.

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Welcome back to the blog! I hope you enjoyed my previous post, which featured an entry from my "Whatever Happens Happens" journal.

This week's post is going to feature another great entry from that journal, which is sure to spark some interesting new ideas in your head and allow those ideas to flow smoothly again.

Slow and Steady Idea Generation

Think "Crock Pot," not "Fast Food" or "Microwave"

Journal Entry / August 27, 2014 / 9:44 p.m.

I've determined that before I allow myself to watch any more YouTube videos on writing, I must first do the task of writing itself. Anything else would be procrastination.

I just finished reading a chapter (chapter four, I believe it was) in a book entitled If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit, by Brenda Ueland, and decided I should quit putting off the task of actually writing versus reading or researching about it.

You must first do the task of #writing itself; anything else is #procrastination.

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There comes a time when the doing of a thing is the only remedy, not the researching of it, thinking about it, talking about it, or any other form of procrastination.​

This chapter​ had some great ideas about how the imagination works best when it's allowed to work slowly instead of hastily. It really hit home because rarely do I do anything where I'm not rushing around in a blur of thoughts, endless planning, and (often mindless) activity.

It's when we slow down that our minds are allowed to process and let the ideas come freely—not when we're hyped up on coffee and Mountain Dew.

It's when we slow down that our minds are allowed to process and let the ideas come.​

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The chapter also​ states that such frenzied work might produce a quantity of results, but only at the cost of quality. According to Ueland, anything strained and rushed, without proper rest and consideration, can never produce something of real substance.

Anything strained & rushed, w/o the proper rest & consideration, can never produce something of real substance (#Brenda Ueland).

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I would have to say that these are thoughts and insights that are definitely worth considering, whether in business or in personal projects.

Fortunately, I had an idea today that would be the perfect specimen on which to test these theories.

Since the notion of writing novels still pulses in my head, I figured it would be a good idea to create a mind map of all the things that interest me. I wanted to see if I could spot a connection between one or more of those interests which might, in turn, result in a good story idea—or several.

Mind Mapping - Writing Interests

This idea of creating a mind map of interests was spurred on after visiting Books-A-Million in town today and (out of coincidence, curiosity, or otherwise) deciding to browse the Mystery section of the store rather than the General Fiction section, which can be quite broad and intimidating.

The Mystery section only had three shelves dedicated to it, so it was easy to spot a few books that I thought might be worth looking into. The books that most caught my attention ​dealt with themed stories, by authors such as...

• Joanne Fluke and Leslie Meier (Bakery Shop Mysteries)

• Spencer Quinn, Clea Simon, and Shirley Rousseau Murphy (Pet Mysteries)

• Even a Coffee Shop Mystery theme by Cleo Coyle (a pen name for a couple of co-authors).

Seeing this pattern of writing theme-based books—and that it's obviously a good strategy for creating bestselling books within a series, as well as making a name or brand for oneself—made me think of my interest-based mind map idea and how I could come up similar strategies and ideas for my own stories.

For example, I like Mysteries (obviously), but I also love music and have an interest in fantasy and the supernatural (superpowers and such). All these were the basis for my first NaNoWriMo novel back in 2009. ("Feelings" is the working title of this novel, which is currently written and awaiting edits, in between working on other books.)

So for now, I plan on creating the mind map before the week is out​. But if I want my ideas to flow freely, I must remember—as Brenda Ueland says—there's no hurry!

(Note: I did, in fact, create the mind map, as you can see from the above image. I actually created it on my large whiteboard, but it was too big to fit all the info legibly, so I took snapshots of each corner and spliced them together to fit into one image!)

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this journal entry blog post. I hope you've found some of my own personal insights on idea generation—as well as Miss Ueland's insights—helpful and motivating for slowing down from time to time and really enjoying life.

One of my favorite ways to slow down and enjoy life is by reading a good book. Feel free to continue scrolling down to see where you can find some enjoyable reads.​

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Featured Resource


If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit (Paperback)


For most, the hardest part of writing is overcoming the mountain of self-denial that weighs upon the spirit, always threatening to extinguish those first small embers of ambition. Brenda Ueland, a writer and teacher, devotes most of her book--published back in 1938, before everyone and their goldfish got their MFA's in creative writing--to these matters of the writer's heart. Still, the real gift of the book is Ueland herself: She liked to write, she didn't care what anyone thought, and she had a great sense of humor. You're simply happy to hang out with her.
List Price: $8.45 USD
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If'd you like to see more of my recommendations for books about the Writing Process and the Writing Life, check out my Writing Books page.

Question: What are some of the ways you will implement slowing down in your own life to help you generate more useful ideas?

Leave a comment below to share some of your insights and ideas.

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