I was doing the dishes while seeing my son struggle to do his homework. He had to write a story in his journal and he didn’t know what to write about. I watched him fumble with his pencil unable to start writing because he didn’t have a good idea of what he should write about.
I could empathize. As a writer, and a rapper, I’ve stared at blank sheets of paper and struggled to start writing because I didn’t have a good idea.
Over the years I’ve learned to overcome writers block.
One way is through stream of consciousness writing.
I learned about it in highschool in my creative writing class. It was our daily test. The test wasn’t based on the quality of our writing, it was based on completing the exercise. Each morning our teacher would have us write for ten minutes without editing or stopping. If we stopped, we failed. If we kept going for the ten minutes, we passed.
It’s the same exercise I give to elementary students when doing a writing workshop.
Initially, many students find it hard because they don’t know what to write about. I enjoy doing the workshop because I can literally see the young writers change their posture and become engaged when they do tap into a good idea.
As a rapper, I do this when I freestyle. My best freestyles aren’t at the beginning of the rap when I’m thinking about things, but rather half way thru the rap when I am in more in tune with my right creative side of the brain and less the left analytical part.
For Seth, success isn’t about having good ideas its more about not having enough bad ideas
“You don’t have enough good ideas…no, you don’t have enough bad ideas.”
It’s counter intuitive. Why are bad ideas important?
I think it comes down to the left and right parts of the brain.
The right part is creative. It brainstorms. It thinks of possibilities of why it will be successful.
The left part analyzes. It criticizes. It thinks of why it won’t work.
We need both parts, but in the creative process we need the right part the most.
We need to think of possibilities. We can hone those possibilities in later.
As a songwriter it means acknowledging that you have to write bad songs to get to the good ones.
As a comedian it means working out bad jokes in order to find the ones that get the big laughs.
In either case its about generating ideas, not evaluating. That step comes later.
But its not just generating ideas. It’s about acting on them. Its about accepting that you will make mistakes, and that these missteps are necessary on the way to success.
Only through the bad ideas do we find our very best ones.