Back in the mid-20th Century, there was an advertising genius called James Webb Young.
He wrote a tiny little book called ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas,’ and what made it so extraordinary was it explains – quite simply – how to turn big problems over to your subconscious mind.
Yes, if you set up your mind correctly, you can literally leave it to solve creative problems while you’re doing other things. Even enjoying yourself.
However, the bad news is you have to front-load the effort.
In a nutshell, the process works like this:
- You do your research. You read every little detail about the problem that you possibly can.
- You play with the problem. You try to solve it, coming up with ideas, using your conscious mind. Eventually, your mind will be all in a fog. That’s when it’s time for Step 3…
- Step away. Go do something else. The best activities are those which are relaxing, but engage your conscious mind. Light exercise is good. If you play a musical instrument, now’s a good time to pick it up. Or go to the cinema.
What you find, invariably, is the answer to your problem will pop out of nowhere.
And I’ll bet you’ve already had this happen.
You’ve had one of those moments where everything appears in your brain in a flash. Chances are good, you followed the method laid out by James Webb Young. You just didn’t know it.
You can have the certainty that your problems will get solved…
…So long as you engage with the problem long enough with your conscious mind.
One thing I always do is pay attention to my thoughts first thing in the morning
Are these early morning thoughts in line with your goals?
If they’re not, then you probably need to put more conscious effort into your problem.
When I last wrote a novel, it was always in my head from the moment I woke up. My wife had to shout to get my attention. I was so lost in the story, that when I did step away, creative solutions appeared out of nowhere.
The pages flew from my brain fast, and writing it seemed a breeze.
But that was a modern day comedy. It was about 2 best friends who staged fake proposals in restaurants to get free desserts. The characters all lived in the same world as me. It wasn’t hard to keep thinking.
This next novel I’m writing is set in the 1920s. It has been like pulling teeth. Their world is nothing like the world I’m living in. So I have to make the conscious effort to follow James Webb Young’s plan: I have to make time to think.
The past few mornings I’ve woken up thinking about politics. This points to the problem that’s slowing me down. So I’m taking a detox from the news and politics. It goes something like this:
- No more watching the news. Watch silent movies instead
- No more reading multiple newspapers. Get the essential news needed for work, then read old ’20s magazines.
- No more listening to talk radio. Turn on some dixieland jazz. Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington or Jelly Roll Morton.
After an extended effort, this relentless process forces your brain into concentrating on what matters – finding you an important solution.
So what matters to you?
What are you telling your brain?
Do the two match up?