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Living With A Non-Linear Mind, Part 3; Getting Going

There are 2 possible outcomes when I am given a task to do.

The first and preferred outcome is that it sparks a ton of ideas, and I immediately get going on producing a lot of creative material quickly, and then get it organized (next week’s topic).

The second outcome is the deer-in-the-headlights look; not even knowing where to begin.

Simply put, the world does not wait for a non-linear thinker to acquire inspiration. People need other people to do some work in a timely manner, or else there are competitors who can get the work done. And usually, although brilliantly creative work may be preferred, any kind of output is preferable to the sound of crickets in the moonlight when something really needs to get done.

This is why a non-linear thinker needs to come up with a creative process. I have some examples that work for me.

First, writing about a given topic –

It never hurts to get together some information; figure out some possible keywords regarding the topic, and do some research.

The research itself should at least spark some questions. Even if you find what you read or hear about a given topic entirely unconvincing, you should be ready to question it. Questions have an almost magical quality to them for our brains; they somehow drive us to seek answers. But if answers aren’t what you are finding, then generate more questions. And luckily, the basic possible questions are already developed; W5 (who, what, where, when, and why) and How? Then build more questions out of those questions, and eventually your mind will begin to work.

Combine a questioning approach with a sensory approach; how would a person experience the topic you need to address? Smell, sight, touch, taste, and sound; fragrances, colours and shapes, textures and hardness, bitter/salty/sweet/spicy, loud/soft/buzzy/ringing… you get the idea.

When working with music, my composition professor (himself a composer) Allan Bell suggested generating a number of musical lines, and then inverting/expanding/diminishing/elaborating/reversing/mirroring etc. those lines until you came up with something that really appealed to your ear.

The bottom line is, if you have a process to engage in, you have a way to approach a task. If I was tasked to do creative writing – wide open topic – on a particular day, I would look around me, I would think about what I had experienced in the past day or week – anything to get some information to work with. Because if you can get started, you can get something done… and the earlier you get started, the more likely that you will give your mind the processing time required to really work with the information that you gather, and the better your chances of really doing something spectacular and utterly unique.

If you start with developing your own process – even, or perhaps especially, when there is no urgent need for it, you can set the parameters to accomplish something unique because you will be starting with a unique process right from the get-go. Whatever it is that you need to do, a process that you have developed for your own reasons and which takes into account your own experience and capabilities will at the very least give you a sense of possibility and hope, a feeling of competence and confidence to take on the task set before you. You can do it! You just need a way to get started, and to gather some kind of input that will guide you and keep you learning and fresh.

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