Free Writing Part 1: Kick Creativity into Gear

In the information age, the winners are the ones who create the most…which means you have to write.

Most people know the brain is divided into two hemispheres (three, if you’re Charlie Sheen): the left brain and the right brain. While the left controls all those logical functions we need to navigate the day and solve Sudokus, the right is the Holy Grail we need to tap if we want to create. So we have to find a way to get the left brain to take some time off while we engage the right. The question is… are there tricks to doing this?

In a word: most definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, you betcha, of course there are. One of them is called free writing. Free writing is a concept I found in a book by Mark Levy called Accidental Genius. While I highly recommend you read the whole thing, let me see if I can give you the gist of it in a nut house. (Sorry for the second Charlie Sheen reference.)

The two sides of the brain almost work as a pair of antagonistic muscles, like the biceps and triceps. While the biceps and triceps allow the arm to perform many functions, they cannot work simultaneously at a peak level. A process called reciprocal inhibition means that when the bicep flexes, the triceps relaxes, and vice versa. If both are flexed, your arm becomes stiff and is incapable of doing much. In a worst case, you can tear one or both muscles. The brain is the same way. At any given moment, one side is called on more than the other. Trying to engage both equally at the same time results in very little movement and it’s no surprise you struggle to create. Who knows, you might pull a brain muscle.

Free writing kicks the left brain out of the process so the right brain can flex its muscle. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Set a timer for ten minutes.
  2. Write, write, write. Don’t stop even if gibberish is all you can muster.
  3. No spell check. No grammar. No punctuation. NO EDITING!
  4. It will probably be crap. That’s fine.
  5. Sit on it. Edit much later.

That’s how to get started. In part 2, we will tackle what’s next.

Free Writing Part 2

Free Writing Part 3