Organize Your Writing Ideas in Harmony with Your Brain
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What are the biggest excuses for stalled writing?
- No time to write
- Editing while they write, and
- The granddaddy catch-all excuse, so-called “Writer’s block.”
I’d say the excuses come from the same source. People are not writing in harmony with the way their brain functions. They think they can fool Mother Nature and neuroscience.
As a result, writers are usually at one of these extremes:
- They don’t know WHAT to think OR
- They get a case of brain-flood and cannot focus on a sub-set of all they think
The reality is, you cannot turn vague ideas into a book—fiction or nonfiction—in the nano-seconds before your fingertips hit the keyboard.
People who try to do this are not writing in harmony with the way the human brain functions.
Your brain wants you to pre-process your ideas. How to do that is coming up right now!
The oldest cliché in the writing handbook is “Writers write.”
You are not a writer if you have an idea for a book. Or if you dream of writing. Or if you wrote a few pages and stopped.
The entire notion of writing is based on the fact that you are actively putting words on a page. Staring at a blank page doesn’t count.
So, how do you stop the drool at the side of your mouth and get rid of that blank stare?
Ideas are Internal, Not External
First, you must accept the notion that books or blog posts do NOT come from a Muse or some source outside your brain whispering to you.
You feed your brain with reading, viewing, listening, or personal experiences.
When it comes to a writing project, it’s your job to pre-process—pre-digest—what you feed your brain.
Your brain then organizes diverse content and THAT is what allows you to produce unique content.
Harmony Gets Results
Oh, I know. Knowing how the brain functions, and using that information to write, is not romantic at all. You think you lose all the drama associated with writing. You won’t need to suffer for your art. So sad.
But wait! What if you could have all the benefits of your creativity, write with genuine freedom, and not need to feel blocked and always be making excuses for not writing. That would be cool, right?
Let’s think together about how you can organize your ideas so that your words flow freely.
How to Train Your Brain
I have already asked you to agree with me about one concept that most aspiring writers dismiss.
That is, that you must feed your brain with inspiration from reading, viewing, listening, or personal experiences. That is where you get nourishment for the idea factory between your ears.
Ideas are everywhere if you keep your doors of perception open.
Okay, the second notion I’d like you to consider is the fact that your brain is a wonderful sorting machine. Its primary function is to sort things out.
Should I eat that piece of pie?
Your brain starts sorting. Yum. Mom used to bake pies like that. They were gooood. I need some pie. Comfort food. Tastes so good. Maybe I should put ice cream on it? Oohh. Pie, ice cream, and coffee would be nice. But wait. I’m already too fat. There’s too much sugar! I don’t need that pie. Or do I? One piece won’t hurt, will it?
You see, your brain sorts the different ideas that were already there. There was no abstract pie. There was ethereal pie. You were mentally processing your experiences of eating pie.
So, that’s my second premise. Your brain sorts the information it has stored. That’s why you want to make your brain a storehouse.
Yes, your brain comes up with new combinations based on that information. In its simplest form, that is the cognitive process.
It is the electrochemical synapses making connections that we turn into tangible activity, whether it be pie-eating or writing.
That sorting is how we create plots and characters and form sentences and paragraphs that make the books and blog posts we write.
Help Your Brain Help You
Now we come to my point. How can you help your brain organize your ideas so the words will flow like a river?
Feed Your Brain
I’m repeating myself but this is important. Give it plenty of reading, viewing, listening, and personal experiences. By the way, it needs good nutrition too. Not too much pie. What we feed out brains is the raw material of all we will write.
Give it plenty of reading, viewing, listening, and personal experiences.
Your brain will absorb this inspiration on both a conscious and unconscious level.
You are grafting your present reading, viewing, listening, and personal experiences into other people, times, and locations when you write. You are overlaying your own perceptions into the plot, characters, and descriptions of whatever you write.
For example, whatever you write about this romantic couple at sunset on the lake will be based upon your reading, viewing, listening, or personal experience.
You are grafting your perceptions into the story you write about them.
You cannot escape this no matter if you are writing about the past or projecting into the future. Everything is based on the present content of your brain.
Give your Brain an Organizing Principle
Random inspiration is just that until you focus it. What is an organizing principle? For writers, it is the title of their book or blog post. It’s okay if it’s a working title. You can sort that out later. Sorry for the pun.
An organizing principle, at least for a scene in a book, might be something like the couple at the lake.
As we see here, your brain will sort the information in your brain based on the organizing principle you give it.
If you give your brain a different organizing principle, it will sort your reading, viewing, listening, and personal experiences in a different way.
Let your Brain Sort into Logical Portions
These would be chapters in fiction or nonfiction books, or scenes or sections. They would be the main headings in a blog post.
All writing is made up of parts. That’s because it’s the way your brain naturally sorts information. You want to help your brain structure those parts so you can write in a liberated way.
By the way, when you break out parts like this, the brain of your reader connects to them and they can read in a liberated way. Reader minds are always sorting too, and structure you create helps them do that.
Write in Harmony with that Human Dynamic
Okay, you see I am talking about outlining your book or blog post. I feel no shame about that.
As I always say, an outline is a map. It does not trap you into following a certain path. You always have the freedom to take side trips. But when you get lost—your brain goes numb—you’ll want to look at your map to get back on track.
Have a tangible map on paper or your computer screen, not just one in your head.
Once you have your ideas, and bits and prices of writing in one place, you can kick back and just let the words cascade out of your mind.
This is how the human brain wants to work and you don’t want to do anything to block that organic flow.
This is why I have problems with writers say they can write without an outline, or “write by the seat of their pants” as they like to say. 99.5% can’t do it. Most who can eventually complain about writer’s block.
I know, we all want to pull books and blog posts out of your brain like a magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat.
But here’s the big news—the magician puts the rabbit in his hat before the show goes on.
Famous French scientist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” I totally agree. Organize your writing ideas before you write your first word.