Mine your brain for insight

Sep 22, 2014 | Better Writing

The Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz said he would face a whole boxful of matches for the opportunity to get a brain. You don’t even have to do that.

You’ve got that three pound bit of wetware right there between your ears ready to help you write better. Your challenge is to get the most out of your brain.

Staying fit helps

Your brain will serve you better if you keep fit. If you’re fit you’ll have more energy. You’ll also get more oxygen to your brain which should help you think and write better.

Get enough sleep

A tired brain is an unproductive brain. Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Vince Lombardi said that “fatigue makes cowards of us all.” That’s only part of it. When you get enough sleep it’s easier to exercise self-discipline. In fact, just about everything seems easier.

Feed your head

Give your brain good materials to work with. Read regularly and widely. Play with ideas.

Let your brain do its thing

We want our brains to come up with ideas and insights. That happens best when you’re relaxed and your body is on autopilot, leaving your brain free to roam. Walking, driving, taking a shower and doing housework are examples of opportunities for mind roaming.

Your brain is nature’s connection-making engine. It does that job best when it’s free to roam

Take notes

When you get a good idea (or any idea) capture it. Use a voice recorder or write it down, but capture it. Letting your mind roam will produce lots of ideas. There’s no point in forgetting them as fast as you get them.

Give your brain enough time to do good work

When it’s time to write, most people produce more good work in blocks of about ninety minutes. That usually includes about an hour of concentrated work and a short break. Give your brain enough uninterrupted work time to produce quality work.