How to get ideas for writing

It’s easy to get an idea for writing, said playwright Lajos Egri. Find inspiration by taking a quiet moment to observe the world around you and within you.

How to get ideas for writing
photo credit: SergioTudela via photopin cc

To get an idea for any type of writing is the easiest thing. Look around you and be observant. Be observant and you will be forced to admit that the world is an inexhaustible pastry shop and you are permitted to choose from the delicacies the tastiest bits for yourself.

Lajos Egri. The Art of Dramatic Writing

‘The capacity to observe change is severely limited by the fact that much of our time is spent in incessant activity that does not provide a stable reference point. Encouraging “just sitting” is a simple way of quieting the body long enough so that that one’s focus can shift to other objects of consciousness, including the mind. Moving around and doing things requires a certain amount of cognitive processing capacity that tends to narrow the scope of attention to instrumental concerns. Sitting quietly, on the other hand, produces an interesting and somewhat paradoxical state of relaxed awareness, which in turn reduces cognitive demands and frees the resultant capacity for other purposes.

‘Quiet, relaxed awareness provides an ideal vantage point from which to observe change processes that are otherwise typically obscured. Manifestations are everywhere. Observation of the breath reveals phasic change from breathing in to breathing out. Observation of inner states reveals both regular and intermittent interoceptive sensations signifying a myriad of changes in underlying physiological processes. Observation of sights and sounds reveals a constant but often subtle flow of energy states captured by sense organs that are themselves constantly changing.’

Paul G. Salmon, Sandra E. Sephton, and Samuel J. Dreeben. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. In Mindfulness in Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Understanding and Applying the New Therapies.

Stay calm, don’t anticipate problems

Jules Verne (died this day 1905) knew that it doesn’t help to anticipate problems or dangers. It is much better to remain in the moment, stay calm, and only deal with the problem if it actually arises.

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas by Jules VerneMeanwhile, Ned Land gave free vent to his indignation.

‘Confound it!’ cried he, ‘here are people who come up to the Scotch for hospitality. They only just miss being cannibals. I should not be surprised at it, but I declare that they shall not eat me without my protesting.’

‘Calm yourself, friend Ned, calm yourself,’ replied Conseil, quietly. ‘Do not cry out before you are hurt. We are not quite done for yet.’

‘Not quite,’ sharply replied the Canadian, ‘but pretty near, at all events. Things look black. Happily, my bowie-knife I have still, and I can always see well enough to use it. The first of these pirates who lays a hand on me – ‘

‘Do not excite yourself, Ned,’ I said to the harpooner, ‘and do not compromise us by useless violence. Who knows that they will not listen to us? Let us rather try to find out where we are.’

Jules Verne. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas.

‘If you find yourself anticipating distress, calculating your escape … your anxious thoughts will intensify. When this happens, try to stay in the now, and your panicky thoughts will settle down. Do what you can to return your focus to your immediate surroundings and your breath. You may notice people having a conversation nearby, or the texture of the carpet, or the colors in a poster.’

Bob Stahl and Wendy Millstine. Calming the Rush of Panic: A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Guide to Freeing Yourself from Panic Attacks and Living a Vital.