The best way to get ideas is to do nothing.
Yes, that’s what I said. Do nothing. It’s both the easiest way and the hardest way.
Not – do nothing with your hands. That’s easy. It does not help to keep your hands idle and your mind full of all your problems – you do it all the time. When your mind is crammed to the ceiling, where is the room for ideas?
It’s the mind which has to be still. Do nothing refers to the mind. Just let your mind float freely unperturbed. Tough? Yes, but you know what it is like because you do it often without realizing it.
The shower syndrome. You may be blank for hours but go for a shower and suddenly ideas are jostling each other, knocking on your door, demanding entrance. Writers are always complaining, why do I get the best ideas when I don’t have a pen?
Because ideas wait for the lake to be still. As soon as your mind is quiet, ideas can’t wait to get in.
Watching TV or reading someone else’s words is not doing nothing. That may be one way to get ideas, but those are often secondhand ideas. The best ones, the unexpected ones, the miraculous ones, are the quiet ideas which sneak silently in when the mind is a blue sky.
The hard part is allowing your mind to float. You did this as a child until some well-meaning and completely misguided adult told you to stop wasting time and do something useful. Education often compounds the problem by encouraging logical thinking and condemning the lazy drifting of poets and writers.
Day dreaming is not useful at all and that makes it invaluable.
This is where ‘do nothing’ comes in. It’s the scariest openness of all – allowing. When you are not driving yourself into a migraine over what the boss said, or why your spouse insists on doing just what you hate, when you let it all go and become still as water, that is where magic happens.
Do something mindless. Take a leisurely, aimless walk. Make coffee. Sit by the sea or watch the clouds. Smell the flowers. Float.
Every day, keep some idea time. Yes, some time to do nothing, to just relax and be open.
Try it. Become a sky. Let your mind, drift slowly, slowly and wait.
Ideas will flow. What else can they do? They will come in flocks, so many that you find it hard to write them all down. They don’t stay. They refuse to settle. They drift in and out and never wait.
It’s up to you to be ready and capture as many stars as you can.