6 Ways to Never Run Out of Ideas

Ed Cyzewski Guest blogger: Ed Cyzewski (@edcyzewski)

The key to never running out of writing ideas has more to do with overhauling your lifestyle than changing how you write. Most writers have all of the ideas they need. Here are six practices that will help you capture and develop your writing ideas.

1. Cut Out the Noise

This is the hardest and most important suggestion to practice. I used to expend buckets of energy and emotion on national news events because I listened to the news all of the time. My mind used to especially swarm with frustration directed at politicians.

Why did I dedicate so much time and energy to the news? There are more efficient ways to become an informed citizen without fretting for untold hours about the news.

In order to reliably develop ideas, I had to step back from the endless news cycle that sucked up my energy and left my thoughts spinning. Cutting out the noise means I made some changes:

  • I rarely listen to the news.
  • I restrict my television watching (even hockey…).
  • I limit my “radio” listening primarily to podcasts.
  • I take walks without headphones.
  • I drive in a silent car most days.

That doesn’t mean I coast along in ignorance. I still browse news online and read lots and lots of books. The difference is that I now guard my mental space and emotional energy with the zeal of a Jesuit. If my mind isn’t occupied by the news, I’ll have more mental energy to think about writing.

2. Learn How to Rest

By cutting down on the noise in my life, I’m creating space where I can truly rest. Do you know what it feels like to completely stop? Your creative energy depends on it.

Resting doesn’t mean you need to be completely silent or isolated. Learning how to stop by opting out of the frantic pace of life will teach you to pay attention to what’s going on in your mind. Are you worried about something? Are doubts killing your creativity? You’ll never know unless you stop and give your mind the space it needs (For my Christian friends, this is where prayer comes in!).

3. Learn How to Single-Task

Take a break to garden, start a craft project, play an instrument, bake dessert, or build a simple book shelf. Learn what it feels like to be consumed in a single project.

Once you’ve tasted single-tasking, download Freedom and open one program on your computer so you can write. Better yet, take your journal and a pen to a café or to the front porch to write for two hours. The more you immerse yourself in a project, the more your creativity and ideas will flourish.

4. Jot Down Incomplete Ideas

I know you’re going to jot down good ideas, but write down every other idea that comes to mind as well. Give ideas time to grow. Sometimes they’ll wither after you jot them down, but other times they’ll grow and expand in unexpected ways.

Try this: sit down and write out every idea you can think of in an hour. You’ll have a ton of content to consider. Let that list sit for a week, and then try writing a few posts based on those ideas. If you can give yourself a day or a week before the posts go live, you’ll be able to improve them and even discover fresh ideas in the process.

5. Learn to Thin Writing Ideas

Developing writing ideas requires a balance between believing you can develop tons of great ideas IF you jot down a bunch of ideas that may or may not work. You can write great ideas, but your best ideas will only shine when you learn how to weed out the ideas that don’t have any potential.

6. Write to an Idea

You read that correctly. Sometimes you can’t just write about an idea. The only path to some of your best ideas is through a lot of writing. That means you may need to crank out 1,000 words just find that idea that will become the seed of your chapter. If you want to find a lot of ideas, you sometimes need to write a lot of content that is destined for the recycling bin.

We’re all far more creative than we’ve led ourselves to believe. The problem is our lifestyles and writing habits often prevent us from tapping into our personal idea treasure stores. The good news is that we can change our lives and draw deeply from the riches of our creative reserves.

Have you found any of these strategies to work? What are your methods to keep your writing ideas coming?

# # #

Path to PublishingEd Cyzewski is the author of Coffeehouse Theology and Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus, as well as the self-published works A Path to Publishing and Divided We Unite. His blog about imperfectly following Jesus is www.inamirrordimly.com, and his writing blog is www.edcyz.com.

 

 

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  • http://www.joannebischof.com/blog/ Joanne Bischof

    These are definitely the things I try and keep in mind when I’m working on a project. As a stay at home mom, I find going for a walk always helps clear my head from distractions around the house. As soon as I get home, I have all sorts of ideas and solutions to write down for my WIP. Its a great way to refresh.

  • http://sharonbayliss.blogspot.com Sharon Bayliss

    Thank you, Ed! This is something I worry about. I want to write my whole life…but yeah, that’s a lot of brilliant ideas I need to have.

  • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

    Thank you for guest blogging, Ed. I’m checking out “Coffeehouse Theology.” As an academic and teaching pastor, I always enjoy finding new ways to add homily to my hermeneutic.
    The first point you make here is hard to do in my line of work. As Karl Barth said, we’re suppose to have a newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other. Some of my best sermons come from arguing with Bill Maher. (GRIN) Yet that quiet time after the mental debate is so important to hear God’s voice over my own need to fight. Thanks for the reminder!

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Maher annoys me. But why fight back with someone who won’t listen? Fight for those who do.

      • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

        It’s like shadow boxing to prepare one’s mind for actual apologetics. Maher’s not a straw horse, although he loves to build them. What he says today will be in the minds of those sitting across the table from my congregation members tomorrow.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Thanks for checking out Coffeehouse Theology. My take on the news is that I try to rely more on reading the news so that I’m single-tasking. I used to listen to the news in the car or while working on something in the kitchen. It’s all about managing idea time by keeping unnecessary noise to a minimum.

  • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

    Oh and there’s a broken link for your website. http://www.edcyz.com/

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Thanks, PJ, I fixed the link.

      • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

        The link to In a Mirror Dimly didn’t work either.
        I tried it a couple of times and ended up with an error message.
        Googled it an found it that way.

        • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

          You can copy and paste it or just click on my name next to my comments until Rachelle is able to get to it. Thanks for the heads up!

  • http://www.martzbookz.blogspot.com Martha Ramirez

    Great tips! Thank you!

  • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

    Thank you, Ed. Great post. I love the “single-task” phrase. Some Benedictine nuns I know say, “Be where you are and do what you’re doing.” For those of us who’ve grown up multi-tasking it’s hard, but I’m trying to re-train myself and learn to balance the two.

    To get ideas, I do what you describe in number six–I just keep writing until until I find the pearl. And I like your idea of getting away from the computer and using good old pen and paper. Sometimes the movement of pen across paper helps get my hand and mind working together and gets the ideas flowing.

    Blessings :)

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Ooooh, I love that phrase Christine!! Alas, pen and paper are not my friend, the arthritis cares little for a pen. Thank the Lord for keyboards.

      • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

        Thanks, Jennifer. Arthritis–yes, my knees understand. :)

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      It’s also immensely helpful to print out the drafts of your book and to edit them with pen and paper. It’s much easier to delete stuff that doesn’t work when you can just draw a line through it. Not sure what, but it works for me.

      • http://ftheeiwasateenagequaker.wordpress.com Helen W. Mallon

        Great post and follow up comments! I think the kernel of all these good ideas is ‘coming at it slant’ (to paraphrase Emily Dickenson.) While engaged in shelf-building or walking, Writing takes a nap in one part of your brain –it doesn’t go anywhere– & your brain is focused elsewhere. A sideways connection sends fresh energy to the Writing part. (That poor Writer, always being hounded!)

        Once I was without a story idea for days. Went to see The Darjeeling Limited — an idea clicked but it had no direct bearing on the movie–now the story’s about to be published. Yay!

        Without associative leaps, creativity is dead in the water.

        (Sorry for all the pseudo-science! Makes sense to me, anyway…!)

        • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

          Congratulations on your book, Helen!

          • http://ftheeiwasateenagequaker.wordpress.com Helen W. Mallon

            Thank you, Christine! Just a lone estory (www.bookstogonow.com and Amazon, BN, etc.) but it’s a start!

            I too must edit on paper. You can’t ‘see’ the work properly on a screen.

        • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

          “Just a lone e-story”–Helen, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re published. Success!

          Blessings!

      • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

        I agree. Also, for some reason, I proofread with a printed draft. After reading a draft over and over again on the computer and thinking that I’ve corrected all my errors, I will print out the draft and read it again. Every time, typos will that I’d missed will jump out at me off the printed page.

        • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

          Oops, sorry. I meant this as a reply to Ed’s comment. There’s the proof: although I love computers, I should probably stick to pen and paper!

  • http://4broadminds.blogspot.com/ carol brill

    Thanks Ed. I have been in frantic multi-task mode and need the reminder to slow down and single task.
    for me that means sit on the beach, stare at the water, feel the sun, hear the seagulls and breathe.Wait – is that one thing or am I doing it again :)

    • http://ftheeiwasateenagequaker.wordpress.com Helen W. Mallon

      Can I come to the beach with you? I promise not to talk!

    • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

      Now that’s the kind of multi-tasking that deserves to be practice–over and over!

  • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

    What a huge bouquet to go through! Some of these points, to me anyway, are already in practice.

    But frankly, SIR, you lost me at paragraph 1,point # 2!! That’s just so sick! (Wave at the nice hockey mom of 3/coach’s wife who’d give an arm to NOT have 4 hockey bags in the TV room). Who won last night? I think the Kings will take it in 4.

    Translation: I totally agree with you. The human mind can only take so much external weather before the storm builds and nothing else can happen.
    After our own storm early in our marriage, someone I married( no names…) had to learn to quiet down and single task. He’s a much better man for it, and we teach our kids to unwind, chillax and grab their fishing gear.

    #5 hurts because I was on the cusp of writing a wickedly awesome humour novel with a rather funny writing partner, but someone I’m married to (no, I’m not giving out names!) wisely suggested I finish what *I* started before embarking on another project. The project would have been more fun than shoe shopping, but I have zero time.
    My ideas seem to flow and I’ve got at least 2 sequels to my MS floating in my head. And a stand alone too.

    Thankfully, it’s not very crowded in there.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Special exceptions are given for the Stanley Cup Finals, especially if I get to watch the Devils lose.

      • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

        Ahahahaha!! My 4 males are DIE HARD hockey fans. How die hard?? I was in labour and hubs was on the phone about hockey. He lived. No police were involved.

        I’m a West Coast girl, go Kings!

    • http://www.atlasmediank.com Adam Porter (@AtlasProWriter)

      6 games. Always 6 games…at least according to the guy on ESPN who seems to inexplicably hate my Bolts.

    • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

      “The mind can only take so much external weather before the storm builds and nothing else can happen.” Brilliant, Jennifer, both the writing and the insight. :)

      • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

        Thanks!!

  • Jana Dean

    Yes, yes, yes! I keep telling my high school Sunday school kids they’ve got to unplug if they really want to hear what’s going on.

    I don’t watch T.V. and my car radio is more off than on.

    Ideas come to rest where we make them welcome–

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      One of the things I worry about is the way so many people my age and younger always have headphones and are staring at their cell phones. My wife and I share one junky cell phone intentionally. We don’t want to forget what the world looks and sounds like.

      • http://ftheeiwasateenagequaker.wordpress.com Helen W. Mallon

        Amen. I have one 24 and one 16. I wonder what all that connectivity is doing to their quiet centers…

    • Jeanne

      I love this thought: Ideas come to rest where we make them welcome! Thinking on this today. :)

  • http://www.marleengagnon.com Marleen Gagnon

    Thanks for this great post. I recently had a major life change, and I’m looking to simplify my life. The first 3 put my biggest problems into words (emphasizing #3). I look forward to putting your 6 points into practice.

  • http://www.laurahurlburt.wordpress.com Laura Hurlburt

    Loved this post! So true.

    My story was birthed in the silence of a Colorado cabin that had no technology save Microsoft Word. I have been trying to create that quiet space ever since (nearly impossible with children!).

    Thanks for sharing. Go to bookmark this as a reminder when times get loud.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      My wife, who is 33 weeks pregnant, took note of this comment. Ha!

      • http://www.laurahurlburt.wordpress.com Laura Hurlburt

        Congrats! It’s a good loud most of the time!! :)

  • http://rsbohn.blogspot.com RS Bohn

    Doing any project that requires some degree of creativity seems to help. I do small crafts. I’m terrible at them. But while I’m glueing paper to a wooden pagoda and slapping paint on it, ideas are flowing.

    I love this post. My only critique would be that not only Christians pray, kind sir.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      I never intended to suggest that. Just recognizing that Rachelle is a Christian literary agent and the audience here is full of Christians… ego, the little shout out to my Christian friends about remembering to pray.

  • Addy

    So true…bt wat happens wen after trying all these steps u stil find urself struggling to write?

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      You could go in a lot of directions with that. If you’re struggling to write, rethink your topics, genre, format, etc. I have a friend who switched from novels to short stories and that was freeing for her.

      If you can’t even bring yourself to write, maybe you need to think about what you want to communicate and to whom and think of ways you can communicate with them beyond writing. A friend of mine is a motivational speaker for teens. He’s a gifted communicator, but he’s at his best when he’s talking. He now hosts a great podcast for teens called Mike is Speaking.

  • http://www.pczick.com Patricia Zick

    These are all great and for different times all have worked. When all else fails, I go to the food court at the mall and eavesdrop. I keep a book or my Kindle in front of me so I don’t look like I’m stalking, but it really helps me focus on dialogue and sometimes gives me great fodder for a scene.

    • Jeanne

      Fun idea. I’ll have to try that. :)

    • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

      Fantastic idea, Patricia! Thank you for sharing it.

  • Addy

    Dt’s a gr8 idea Patrick!

  • http://elainecougler.wordpress.com/ Elaine Cougler

    Ed, your post really resonates with me this morning as you have hacked in to my brain, I think. After serious health issues 18 years ago, thankfully resolved, I took the step of focusing on the positive in life. That meant cutting out the news an all the ways you mention. I’m not as knowledgeable now about world and even local events, but I’m happier and can’t see that I’ve missed much. Being happier allows my brain to be creative as I don’t have all that energy wasted on things I can’t really change.
    Thanks for a great post!

  • http://www.cgblake.wordpress.com CG Blake

    Ed,
    This is such an insightful post packed with wisdom and sound practi cal advice. When I got serious about fiction writing the first thing I gave up was TV, except for the Yankees on the YES Network. For the
    most part I didn’t miss it, though I am a political junkie and still take a peek at CNN. You never know when an idea is going to emerge and you need to be receptive to the creative process. That means, as you point out, the writer needs a lot of quiet time to think, reflect and nurture those ideas. Thanks for a terrific post, Ed

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      I don’t know, I think the Yankees are creativity killers… Ha! I’m going to run for cover now.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  • http://www.sundaybysunday.com Cristy Fossum

    Thanks for great suggestions, Ed. The hardest for me to implement will be giving up the PBS Newshour every night. I’ve tried, because of the exact reasons you mention, but there’s always good stuff there too, uplifting news in the arts world. Maybe a solution would be to go to their Website and pick and choose the content that I think will add to life rather than subtract…

  • http://jackiesbackporch.blogspot.com Jackie Layton

    Thanks for the suggestions Ed.
    I’m going to have my college-aged son read this too. That age group doesn’t realize
    you can do only one thing at a time. At least he and his friends don’t.
    I do find myself able to write when I have the house to myself and nothing on TV or radio. I think you gave us a lot of good ideas!

  • http://aboutproximity.com Lisa

    Loved this post, thank you. I think people crave stillness in there hectic lives. It takes a certain amount of courage to be willing to let go of expectations and quiet your mind. I always find new insight and often Christ’s encouragement when I do so. Encouraging others that it is OK to allow yourself creative space is a rare gift we can give.

  • Patti Mallett

    Great post, Ed, which basically means I agree with everything you said! Thanks for popping in here!

  • http://amylsullivan.blogspot.com/ Amy Sullivan

    Great, practical strategies. Too often we think we need to do more to write better: read more books, listen to more news, follow more blogs. In reality, we need to slow the process down.

    Thanks, Ed!

  • http://addyrae.com Addy Rae

    I use Freedom to cut down on my internet distractions so that I can write. :) It’s occasionally annoying, say if I want to send something to the printer over the network, but overall very, very useful. Thank you for the awesome post!

  • http://www.atlasmediank.com Adam Porter (@AtlasProWriter)

    Good points, particularly about rest. SO vital (and virtually impossible for a travel writer who brings his family with him on trips). But you just have to make time.

    One note about the news…

    Because I live in Florida, the local news can be HELPFUL in creating writing ideas for one of the genres I’m working in – Florida-based mystery novels. There is no fiction stranger. Take this month for instance. We had…

    - Middle Eastern immigrant quickie mart owners (one of whom was connected to 9-11) running a tax scam from a ritzy waterfront suburb

    - HOAs kicking renters out of homes they did not own and then re-renting them without telling the owners

    - spoiled rich kids egging joggers inadvertently permanently injuring a kid from a rival school

    - panhandlers attacking off duty soldiers then just walking into the police station to confess

    - and, of course, the beginning of the zombie apocalypse brought about not by a shady gov’t program but by bath salts you can buy at 7-11.

    • http://porteranderson.com Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

      Bravo on that Twitter handle still in your comment field, Adam, good going. :)

      • http://www.atlasmediank.com Adam Porter (@AtlasProWriter)

        Picked up 5 followers within an hour of making that original comment. And the offer still stands…

        I will “swap follows” with anyone who follows me via this site. Just mention the message when you tweet at me.

    • John Sauvé-Rodd (London UK)

      Importance of listening to local news in Florida: it never did Karl Hiaasen any harm either. The ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ cliché does not surprise me any more as I self-learn the business of storytelling.

  • http://dianeyuhas.com Diane Yuhas

    I made the same kind of decisions to simplify my life several years ago and haven’t looked back. Now to write…

  • http://www.shelliefoltz.wordpress.com Shellie

    Excellent post! Your suggestions could speak to anyone at all who’s trying to develop a more balanced life. I already practice several of the strategies you listed here and am anxious to try out more (particularly writing 1,000 words about an idea). I just have one quibble. Limit watching hockey? No chance.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      I know, I know, I know. It sounds like heresy for sure. However, during the Flyers/Penguins series I got so worked up about James Neal’s cheap shots that I realized I needed to give myself a time out. I mean, I don’t need to spend any time fretting about hockey injuries and suspensions! In that moment, I realized that hockey was threatening my creative energy and ideas. I had to stop watching that series just to set some boundaries. (sniffle, sniffle)

  • http://theravenslanding.blogspot.com Abigail Cossette

    Thank you for this post, it was a reminder that I really needed.

  • Jeanne

    I had no idea there were so many hockey lovers here. At the risk of earning some eggs, I’ll confess I rarely watch it (covering my head now).

    On another note, I will say I loved your ideas, Ed. My husband and I cut television out years ago, with the exception of watching football games in the fall. I seldom have the radio on in the car because I want to encourage conversation in the car with my kids. I do enjoy listening to books on CD though to hear different writing styles.

    I’m working to “be all there” in the moments I live out, especially with my family, but also in other activities. So, multi-tasking isn’t something I do as much as I used to.

    I love your idea about writing 1000 words to get to the pearl of the idea. I’ll have to give that one a try. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    I hope your wife’s pregnancy has gone well.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      You mean there are other sports besides hockey? Fascinating… :)

      Maybe I spend too much time thinking about this, but I think writing takes 100% pride and 100% humility. I have to believe that I can write something amazing and that I can write something worthy of the trash heap. I have to believe that I can produce something something great if I work at it long enough, even if the process is humbling because I’m always deleting and rewriting it. I hope that makes sense.

      • Jeanne

        Makes perfect sense. I definitely agree with the writing and humility. Hadn’t thought about your perspective on the pride side, but I like it. :)

  • http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ Wendy Paine Miller

    Hey Ed,

    1-3 have been huge for me lately. Pretty sure my computer just crashed to help me along with the whole learning to slow down bit.

    This post is full of wisdom. Some of my strongest ideas come when I make efforts to quiet myself.

    Love the ? about whether doubts are killing creativity.

    ~ Wendy

  • http://www.fullmeasureofjoy.blogspot.com Donna Sisler

    Ed,
    Thank you for these great ideas. Some I already implement, but others are new to me. I will begin using as many as possible.

    Grace and peace be yours in abundance,
    Donna

  • http://mgkingbooks.com M. G. King

    I loved this post! I think we’ve learned to define ourselves by our noise and busyness. It takes courage to turn it off.

  • http://Meadowrue.com Meadow Rue Merrill

    Thank you for the reminder to slow down and pay attention. One of the best events to happen to our family was when the federal government switched everyone to digital TV. We completely lost our signal and now watch only what we can stream, usually one evening a week.

  • http://robinpatchen.com Robin Patchen

    You said it from the start: It’s all about quiet. I can come up with the spark of an idea while watching TV or listening to the radio, but unless I go somewhere quiet and think it through, the spark dies out. And simply writing it down for later doesn’t always work, but often if I do that, when I go back, I can’t remember what the point was. Only if I stop and listen does the idea truly germinate. Long car trips (without the husband and kids) usually provide me with lots of ideas.

  • http://babblefromtheburbs.blogspot.com/ Kathryn Elliott

    Love this! As a serial jotter, this resonates in a big way. Thanks for the tips, Ed.

  • http://www.artesianministries.org Donna Pyle

    I agree wholeheartedly with this list, Ed. Stepping back, breathing, unplugging occasionally, taking time to observe – they not only help in writing, but life in general. Thanks so much for these wise words.

  • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

    I like the idea of single-tasking. I’ve read that multi-tasking isn’t the best thing — we’re not as productive as we think we are.
    And thanks for the reminder to use my Freedom program. I downloaded it a month ago but haven’t used it yet.
    Sheesh.
    :)

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Confession time: the fact that Freedom cost me $10 makes me really determined to use it. It’s like, “I’m NOT going to waste $10!!!” I think it’s the same reason why I write in a cafe. I’m essentially taxing myself to be productive–though I understand that may not work for writers who are libertarians.

  • http://www.WriteWhereItHurts.org Jo Ann Fore

    Great post, Ed. And quite timely as I myself just made an intentional choice to “opt out of the frantic pace of life.”

    I love how stillness breeds focus, creativity, and balance. Yet it so often the last choice we make.

    Great practical application!

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo

    The myth of multi tasking has made a mess out of things, for sure.

    Great post!

    • http://pjcasselman.wordpress.com/ P. J. Casselman

      For me, typing and thinking are multitasking. :-D

      • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

        No comment.

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  • http://janclinewriter.blogspot.com Jan Cline

    I have recently begun to stop keeping files of “possible story ideas”. I found that it was a distraction and not realistic that I would use even a fraction of them. I know what I want to write and I will concentrate on those topics and set aside the others. It’s so easy to clutter our minds with thoughts of what we want to do, when we could clear so much of it away by purging the ideas that will never happen.

  • Joyce Anne Laird

    Great ideas. I like to add one more, maybe it’s stupid, but I would like to add my audio ping to the list. Many times idea hit me when I can’t jot things down. I record them instead.

    I also like to “tell myself” stories as if I am reading them to another person. These could be new ideas or reading a short story, essay or just a difficult chapter I’m trying to get through out loud. When I play it back to myself, the parts that need work really stick out like a sore thumb.

    I guess it’s a habit formed from 20 years of journalism & transcribing interviews. But it works for me. Just adding my idea to the mix.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Thanks for sharing it. there certainly are more than 6 ways. I’m just sharing the ones I used. I should have asked for other ideas.

  • http://www.karenleehallam.com karen

    Sounds like what I do. No wonder my imagination is wild and free. Thanks–will share!

  • http://kristinlaughtin.blogspot.com Kristin Laughtin

    Very true. I think the idea of quiet time is undervalued in our busy modern culture, but it’s a practice that is full of benefit for our mental, spiritual, physical, and creative selves. Our mind needs time to rejuvenate and also to wander. I, like you, used to over-listen to the news, partially in search of inspiration, and it never came because I got too invested. Now I still think knowing what’s going on in the world is important, but I’ve limited my time obsessing over it, and by allowing my brain to have some leisure time, have found myself coming up with more ideas than ever (and some of them, oddly enough, have been inspired by what-if scenarios in response to news stories, long after I thought I’d stopped thinking about them).

    Having quiet time frees our minds to do their best thinking.

  • Lynn Flewelling

    Ed, these are GREAT advice, and I say that as a working author. I am a news junkie, and as you point out, that doesn’t equal being informed, and frankly, it gets me all worked up about things when I should be concentrating on writing, instead. I love how you show how to honor and give space to the act of writing. It’s very much like Buddhist mindfulness practice, being the moment. Thank you!

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Thanks Lynn. The news part was tough for me to learn. One practice I picked up from Tim Ferris is I try to find informed people who study politics, world affairs, etc. and ask them to help me sort out decisions when I need to make them. I also think a few minutes in the local section of the newspaper can be really good for staying involved in a community. Managing my news like that is totally different from the constant news fire hose I used to have!

  • http://marloberliner.com Marlo Berliner

    Great post, Ed! My best ideas come to me when I set myself on auto-pilot and recharge the imagination. Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://porteranderson.com Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

    Ed, thanks for the write. Since you mention Freedom, I thought I’d drop a line about RescueTime, my favorite time-management system. It’s a free download, and the basic service is free. Add FocusTime, and it lets you close off whatever parts of online work you want, while keeping up whatever you need (dictionary, research, etc.). I’ve been really impressed as it tracked everything I do online, what a revelation. You and Rachelle’s readers are welcome to use my referral link, too, includes a free trial of the full version, just FYI. (I’m not an affiliate, just an avid, frazzed customer.) http://ow.ly/bhcEZ Cheers!
    -p.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Awesome! Thanks Porter. I’ll be copying and pasting your comment in an e-mail to my wife. Sounds like just the thing she’s been looking for.

  • Janet Bettag

    Ed, you just gained yourself another loyal and dedicated follower. This is the best “psych” advice I’ve seen for writers in a very long time.

    Your words came at a moment in my life where I’m so over-multi-tasked that it’s making my head spin. Unfortunatly much of the buzz I’m not at liberty to turn off yet because it’s related to my day job.

    You made me long for a couple of hours alone with my yoga mat. Soon. This time next month at the latest.

    Thanks for such a wonderful reminder of how important it is to the creative process for the brain to get a little bit of down time every now and then.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      It sometimes help to think about how we think about writing! Enjoy yoga!

  • http://4ambassadorsofchrist.blogspot.com/ Jarm Del Boccio

    These are wise tips, Ed…especially the one about praying to ease your mind. Thanks so much!

  • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

    Yes! These are great steps to take. Part of my “lifestyle inspiration” has to do with taking long walks. All sorts of material pops into my head when I am putting one foot in front of the other.

  • http://Katherine.e.hinkson.com Kat Hinkson

    I grew up in a house where something was going on nearly 24 hours a day. There were 9 kids, 15 foster sibs over the years, live-ins and we can’t forget our pets, never without one or fifteen. Seriously, I learned to tune the noise into the backgroud, now I need noise to write. I usually, have music or some nonesense tv program as background noise. I can’t write without noise.

  • John Sauvé-Rodd (London UK)

    Inspirational Ed. Now I’m going to say it loudly and without shame: I am a single-tasker and proud, d’you hear? Proud!

    Not being dominated by The News: I was beginning to think I was just a grumpy 63 year old who couldn’t take the modern world. But no. I find I am practising an ancient form of inner focus.

    Be my guru, please.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      Looks like you’re well on your way and could teach me a few things as well!
      If you want some more thoughts on slowing down and single-tasking, check out the Taking Root series at my blog (the category is Sustainable Living).

  • http://www.BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

    Ed,

    Tremendous thoughts all. And well-crafted writing, too. Great job! I have found all these to be true in my own writing, especially your point about thinning ideas.

    My challenge is never a shortage of ideas but learning to screen through them for the best ones.

    Thanks, again.

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  • http://www.daveknickerbocker.wordpress.com Dave Knickerbocker

    Ed, I’m loving that “Learn how to single-task” thing. Believe it or not, I think best when I’m ironing or mowing the lawn (neither of which I do enough of).

    We differ slightly in one area. I’ve been getting a lot of ideas from the news lately. I don’t watch it a too much, but I wrote about my initial reaction to the toddler caught in the washing machine and really enjoyed it because my take was a little different than what I was hearing. Today’s blog about Brian Banks being freed from prison was fun to write, too. But, I can’t write on news too much becuase I get frustrated too.

    Thanks for your insight, Ed.

    • http://www.inamirrordimly.com ed cyzewski

      When I iron I think, “I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.” Glad you can use some news stories for writing prompts. I used to rely on teenagers at nearby cafe tables for them!

  • http://www.victoriaMjohnson.com Victoria M. Johnson

    Fantastic tips that I’ve not heard before and that I really need to implement!

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  • http://www.freshoiltoday.com Jackie Gilbert

    Wonderful and extremely helpful!! Thank you!

  • http://byline.peterdehaan.name/ Peter DeHaan

    All your suggestions are excellent. I especially like number 3 because today has been a multitasking nightmare, which resulted in too many mistakes — and extra work to correct the mistakes. Lesson learned!

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  • http://www.outsourceproj.com Anilkumar Narayan Shetty

    Ed, Thanks for your fantastics tips, The first one was one of the best as too much noise make us shrink and not think. Secondly resting also helps us to create and think of great ideas and this two part are one of the basic steps which you have explained very nicely, and the other 4 views are also great thanks ed

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  • http://www.goodblogs.com.au/ Alice Cornelios

    Thanks Ed, I can say you already wrote tons of articles to create such a good post. True that often times we run out of ideas but it is just temporary. No matter, what you do or think, ideas are free flowing, hence, need not to panic and one way or the other ideas will come to you and you do not need to look for far areas for them. This is just me. Thanks for the advice once again.

    Alice from http://www.ideasinbusiness.com.au/

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