Feed the Ideas

Published on March 5th, 2016

During my most creative years in college, I made it a habit to carry a journal around with me at all times. It wasn't uncommon for me to stop several times mid-commute to jot down an idea for a poem. I would then use these initial phrases and scenes as a launch point to riff off of and develop it into a completed piece. I didn't really think about it at the time, but the more frequently I wrote these ideas down, the more frequently new ideas would appear. Likewise, when I stopped making it a point to write, eventually these muscles atrophied and I abandoned the habit altogether.

There are two ways we can view ideas. If we approach it from a scarcity mindset, there is a finite reserve of ideas that we can draw from. However, I don't share that perspective. Our memories are associative, autobiographical, and fire faster as we continue to access them. Therefore, simply thinking about one idea opens a door to another series of doors through all the associations we have linked to that one idea. Repeat this process over and over and you will continue to access more information and thus increase your odds for more ideas.

Put bluntly: feed the ideas. The more energy you put into writing them down, playing with them, acting upon them, etc: the more your brain and mind uses this energy and intention to start generating new associations and new ideas. Stop feeding the ideas, and you'll lose your momentum, which makes it harder to get your creative juices flowing the next time.

For another take on this, check out some thoughts on making things by The Oatmeal.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.