How percolation time can make you a better writer

I’ve been reading a few posts about how meditation can help the writing process.  One person insists that meditation will make you a better writer. Another person uses it for business brainstorms.

I would agree with these statements. Shutting down your external thoughts – even for a short time – can lead to transformative results.

The challenge is, the word “meditation” means different things to different people. For some people, meditation is like “coming home” and an important part of their day. Others may have tried meditation and found it frustrating – after all, sitting still for 20 minutes can be hard. Instead of sticking with it, they figured that they weren’t cut out for this meditation stuff, got frustrated and stopped trying.

If the second scenario sounds familiar, then this blog post is for you.

Taking time to be quiet is crucial in today’s online marketing space. We are bombarded by news, ads and “stuff” every second that we’re online. Our brains are trying to process what we see, plus keep track of what we’re supposed to do. Is it any wonder that we’re so exhausted at the end of the day (yet sometimes, we have a hard time sleeping?). It’s like our minds are constantly running on a high-speed treadmill.

Rather than forcing yourself to spend 20+ minutes a day meditating, why not spend some “percolation time” instead?

For instance, before I start writing for a client, I spend about 10-15 minutes thinking about the project. If a really fantastic sentence pops into my brain, I write it down. If I think of an interesting angle or tone and feel tweak, I write that down too. I’m not at my computer when I do this. I’m usually somewhere else (typically my couch or a cafe) far away from my laptop.

I may initially think that “I don’t have percolation time to spare.” And heck, it can be hard to come down from a go-go-go mindset some days. But the more I sit, the more I relax – and the creative solutions start flowing.

I’ll spend entire days in percolation mode. When my brain gets too jammed up with “stuff,” I take the day off. I don’t check email or respond to Tweets. Instead, I find things to do that are quiet and relaxing, like getting a massage or going to a museum (or both!). I may start the day by telling myself, “I would like to figure out the solution to X issue,” but I don’t really think about work.

I let whatever is going on in my brain percolate. And at the end of the day – or the next morning – I have my answer. It’s a form of meditation for me (and, oddly, I’ve found that the more “percolation time” I have, the easier it is for me to meditate. Go figure.)

This is something that you can easily try before your next writing assignment.  Simply spend a little bit of time away from your computer and allow your mind to drift. Write down whatever comes to mind without analyzing it. Then, when you feel that the process is “done” (yes, you’ll know,) check out your notes and see what you find.

I can guarantee that you’ll find some gems that will give you new perspective on your writing – and sometimes, even your life. I took yesterday off and came up with a  business insight that slapped me across the face, hard. But in a good way.

Percolation is powerful like that.

Try it and let me know how it goes. I guarantee that it will become part of your ongoing process.

Photo thanks goes to antmoose