Spring Cleaning: The Mind Dump

Ways to Unlocking Creativity

In last week’s blog post, we talked about negative thought patterns that prevent us from unlocking our creative potential and often get in the way of writing, or any other creative act. This week we’re going to prepare our brains for composing a first draft (but this works for painters, sculptors, chefs, or anyone who desires to unlock their creative potential). Last week’s post concluded with an exercise that asked you to just write for 10 minutes about anything – it doesn’t matter what. Why is this important?

When you are given an assignment to write (and this is especially true for the high-risk writing you are asked to do for college) your brain begins to play tricks on you. You’ll think of a topic to write about, but then Mr. Censor butts in. Mr. Censor says things like, “You call that writing? You can’t even spell. How are you going to write a 5 page narrative essay? Do you really want the teacher to read that?” and on and on.

Everyone has a Mr. Censor in their life, but some Censors are louder than others. Some people have learned to tune Mr. Censor out. So how do you shut him up?

Remember that Mr. Censor’s opinions of your writing are not the truth. But believing in yourself and not Censor’s noisy voice takes practice. By writing a little every morning before you begin your day, you can learn to avoid Censor. This is the Mind Dump.

Begin your day by Mind Dumping, or writing what Censor thinks of you (you’re a lousy speller; you don’t know punctuation from a hole in the ground; you never had an original thought in your life). Once you let Censor have his say, keep writing, emptying your mind of all your worries. The idea is to dump everything out of your thinking brain and onto the paper: the rent is due; I have to take my kids to the dentist; my car needs an oil change; I don’t understand the assignment; I was up all night with a headache; I have to work all weekend. Keep going. Empty everything out that’s been on your mind until all your worries and concerns are on the page in front of you.

After you’ve emptied your mind, notice how you feel, both physically and mentally.

After a mind dump, you’ll breathe a little easier. You’ll feel a little lighter. Now that essay for English class that’s been nagging at your mind all week won’t feel so overwhelming. You might even get some new ideas for essays you’d like to write later.

If you have trouble sleeping, try doing a mind dump right before bed to clear your thoughts. We all have worries, some we can do something about, but some we can’t. Just acknowledging what’s on our logical minds will clear a pathway for our creative minds to freely write the essay, paint the landscape, create the recipe, or anything else that takes a clear head and creative thought.

Once your mind is clear, Mr. Censor’s voice won’t be so loud. You’ll see it for what it is, not the voice of reason but a blocking device to your creativity. Even professional writers have their own Censors; they’ve just learned how to ignore them. Spending a few minutes each day on a mind dump will help you silence Mr. Censor and put you on the path to reaching your full creative potential.

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