Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing

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9781605095257: Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing
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When it comes to creating ideas, we hold ourselves back. That’s because inside each of us is an internal editor whose job is to forever polish our thoughts so we sound smart and in control and so we fit into society.
 
But what happens when we encounter problems where such conventional thinking fails us? How do we get unstuck?
 
For Mark Levy, the answer is freewriting, a technique he’s used for years to solve all types of business problems and generate ideas for books, articles, and blog posts.
 
Freewriting is deceptively simple: start writing as fast as you can, for as long as you can, about a subject you care deeply about, while ignoring the standard rules of grammar and spelling. Your internal editor won’t be able to keep up with your output—you’ll generate breakthrough ideas and solutions that you couldn’t have created any other way.
 
Levy shares his six secrets to freewriting as well as fifteen problem-solving and creativity-stimulating principles you can use if you need more firepower—seven of which are new to this edition. Also new to this edition: an extensive section on how to refine your raw freewriting into something you can share with the world.

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About the Author:

Mark Levy is the founder of the marketing strategy firm Levy Innovation. He has written for the New York Times, has authored or cocreated five books, and has taught writing at Rutgers University.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Secret #1:
Try Easy

Robert Kriegel, business consultant and “mental coach” for world-class athletes, tells a story in one of his books that has critical implications for you in your quest to lead a better life through writing.

Kriegel was training a sizable group of sprinters who were battling for the last spots in the Olympic trials. During a practice run, Kriegel found his runners to be “tense and tight”—victims, apparently, of “a bad case of the Gotta’s.”

Conventional wisdom would have dictated that these highly skilled athletes train harder, but Kriegel had another idea. He asked them to run again, only this time they were to relax their efforts and run at about nine-tenths their normal intensity. Of this second attempt, Kriegel writes:

The results were amazing! To everyone’s surprise, each ran faster the second time, when they were trying “easy.” And one runner’s time set an unofficial world record.

Fine for running, but does that idea hold for any pursuit? Kriegel continues: “The same is true elsewhere: Trying easy will help you in any area of your life. Conventional Wisdom tells us we have to give no less than 110 percent to keep ahead. Yet conversely, I have found that giving 90 percent is usually more effective.”

For freewriting, too, Kriegel’s “easy” notion hits the nail on its relaxed head.

Rather than approach your writing with your teeth gritted, demanding instant, virtuoso solutions from yourself, loosen up and ease into your best 90 percent effort. Here’s how:

Begin your writing by reminding yourself to try easy. I liken this to the prep work of a baseball player stepping into the batter’s box. The player adjusts his batting glove and cup, spits, kicks at the dirt, stares at the barrel of his bat, and eases into a few practice swings. These rituals accomplish two things: They allow the hitter to set up the mechanics of his swing, and they get him in the correct frame of mind to face a pitch.

That’s what I’m asking you to do. Get your mechanics down, then do a psych job on yourself. Or, put another way: Start scribbling, then remind yourself that you’re simply looking to put some decent words and ideas down on the page; you’re not trying to produce deathless prose and world-beating ideas in the course of a single night’s writing.

I’ve opened my computer’s freewriting file to find a few examples of how I remind myself to try easy. I don’t have to look far.

Nearly every entry begins with a reminder, invocation, plea, entreaty, or declaration of assurance from me to myself to stay centered during the writing and not expect wisdom, insight, or shining prose. Most of the time, I don’t specifically say to myself, “Try easy,” although the sentiment is there. Here are some samples:

Remove the “Mighty Specialness” of writing, until there’s nothing to stop you. This kind of writing is dirt simple, like putting on a sock.

Just some brain-draining, some noodling, going on here. Don’t expect lightning bolts.

Okay, a little sticking here to start, like a computer key that hasn’t been deep struck for a while. Keep moving and the stickiness may or may not leave, but at least you’ll be moving.

Here it is, on the line. I’m squeezing some words onto the page, but I’m scaring myself with demands of originality. If words don’t come out of me in interesting arrangements, tasty strings, then my writing fingers slow down, my mind stops. Wait, Mark. That kind of thinking is going to guarantee you no new ideas. Better just forge ahead, and get some stuff onto the page—great or stink-o.

These are hardly inspiring openings, I grant you. But if you, like me, suffer from wanting to accomplish too much, right away, an honest attempt to calm your expectations can improve the quality of your thinking in the long run. You, though, might be wondering, will all this self-reassurance act as an anchor on my thinking and weigh it down far below what is helpful? Might I, in effect, be courting my own dumbness?

The answer is no. Despite your pleas and cautious self-instruction, your mind still begs to solve problems and do extraordinary work. By giving yourself this “try easy” ground rule, you’ll ease up on your perfectionistic demands and give your rampaging mind more room to maneuver.

But wait, I have another way—a way virtually guaranteed to move you into that “try easy” zone.

Points to Remember

· A relaxed 90 percent is more efficient than a vein-bulging 100 percent effort.

· When you begin freewriting about a thorny subject, remind yourself to “try easy.”

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9781459625976: Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content

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Book Description BERRETT-KOEHLER, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. 2nd edition. Language: English. Brand new Book. When it comes to creating ideas, we hold ourselves back. That's because inside each of us is an internal editor whose job is to forever polish our thoughts so we sound smart and in control and so we fit into society. But what happens when we encounter problems where such conventional thinking fails us? How do we get unstuck? For Mark Levy, the answer is freewriting, a technique he's used for years to solve all types of business problems and generate ideas for books, articles, and blog posts. Freewriting is deceptively simple: start writing as fast as you can, for as long as you can, about a subject you care deeply about, while ignoring the standard rules of grammar and spelling. Your internal editor won't be able to keep up with your output--you'll generate breakthrough ideas and solutions that you couldn't have created any other way. Levy shares his six secrets to freewriting as well as fifteen problem-solving and creativity-stimulating principles you can use if you need more firepower--seven of which are new to this edition. Also new to this edition: an extensive section on how to refine your raw freewriting into something you can share with the world. Seller Inventory # AA99781605095257

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