People have often asked me, how have you been able to write so much, citing the more than 50 books and over 20 feature scripts I have written? The answer lies in cultivating your creativity, so you can more quickly come up with ideas, select among them to choose the best ones, and then develop and polish them into the final article, book, or script.
To this end, I have used a variety of techniques for increasing creativity, which anyone can learn and practice until they become second nature. It is important to make these techniques a regular practice, so you don’t have to think about them and simply apply them as needed. When this occurs, the techniques essentially become an intuitive part of you – an automatic response whereby you can generate a lot of new ideas and sense which is right to follow up on, through a kind of inner wisdom or knowing.
For me, the process of developing my intuitive inner creativity began when I took a workshop on tapping into one’s intuition or knowing in the late 1960s after I first came to California. In the workshop, we did a visualization in which we imagined a swirl of energy bubbling up from the ground into our bodies and then imagined another code of energy pouring in through our head. Then, we were told to imagine the two energy streams from the earth, which provided grounding, and from the air, which provided expansion, meeting in the middle of our bodies and streaming out into whatever project we were working on to infuse it with this energy. In my case, I imagined the energy pouring out of my hands as I rushed to the typewriter – yes, we once used typewriters in the pre-computer days – and began to write. So initially, that was the image I brought to my typewriter each day as I worked on writing something, and after a while, I didn’t need to see the image anymore. I would just go to the typewriter and write – an approach I continued to use no matter what technology I used for writing – from typing and handwriting to writing on a computer keyboard.
Another thing I learned early on is the secret of separating the creative process from the editing process. In other words, you just write whatever you are thinking about your subject initially, so you get whatever you want to say down and don’t interrupt the flow of ideas. Then, you go back and review your writing as an editor and do a final edit and polish. Importantly, you don’t try to mix the two processes, or you will slow yourself down. If you are writing for someone else, it is important to explain this process, if you are showing them your first draft to get their input. This way, they understand that there may be numerous typos and grammatical errors because of this initial creative process, but you will correct any errors when you do the final polish.
Initially, when I started writing anything, I used an outline, which I either prepared or an editor or client gave to me. But after a while, I found I generally didn’t need a written outline, since it would automatically be there in my mind, and that increased the speed of the creative process even more. Likewise, as you work with these techniques, you will find that many things you doing rationally at first will become part of the intuitive you, so you can come up with ideas and write even more quickly.
Still another technique I learned early on is the power of visualization. That first workshop on visualization laid the groundwork. But then I continued to go to a series of workshops, most of them at Esalen near Big Sur, which was a big center in the 1960s and 1970s for all kinds of personal growth programs. There I learned about altered states of consciousness, shaman journeying, hypnosis, automatic writing, biofeedback, meditation, and other consciousness techniques. I experienced just about any altered consciousness state as a form of visualization, though the imagery which was used to guide these experiences might differ. For example, on a shaman journey, the workshop leader might lead us on a journey through a forest to gain insight from a wise man at a tree; in hypnosis, the guide might lead us down a tunnel, escalator, or count down of numbers; in meditation, the leader might instruct us to focus on a word, chant a mantra, or clear our minds of all thoughts until we experienced a state of exaltation or inner knowing. But for me the feeling or state of consciousness was much the same, as I tried out different types of imagery, after I started with a question or goal for the session, such as what should I write about in a chapter or script. At times, I also worked with a guide who led me to a place where I saw the answer to my question or a story unfold.
Then, applying these techniques, I looked for insights from whatever I was experiencing or learning about to turn it into a book, article, blog, or script. For example, if something negative happened, I would think about what I could learn from that or how I could turn it into an interesting story. If something in the news caught my attention, I would think about how I might incorporate that into something I was already working on or transform it into a new project.
In sum, I used many techniques to become more creative – techniques which anyone can use. These include increasing your powers of visualization, separating the creative/intuitive and the editorial/ analytical process, transforming a formal outline into an organic one which you can see in your mind, and looking to the experiences and events in your life for ideas on what to write about next.
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Gini Graham Scott, PhD, writes frequently about social trends and everyday life. She is the author of over 50 books with major publishers and has published 30 books through her company Changemakers Publishing and Writing. She writes books and proposals for clients and has written and produced over 50 short videos through Changemakers Productions. Her latest books include: TRANSFORMATION: HOW NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, BUSINESS AND SOCIETY ARE CHANGING YOUR LIFE and THE BATTLE AGAINST INTERNET BOOK PIRACY