I work with computers. I spend a staggering number of hours every day seated at a computer. I work for a company that makes a product designed to act like paper, but better. I can type faster than just about anybody I know and my handwriting looks like that of a surgeon who just finished his third martini while riding in the back of Gravedigger. Why, then, do I keep a pen and paper on me at all times and, when seated, open in front of me, ready for input? Because that’s how I have ideas.
We’ve all heard statements like “I have my best ideas in the shower”. Have we ever stopped to consider why that is? I’m certainly not a neurologist, but my money says that it’s because you’re almost certainly free of distraction. You’ve cleaned your body a million times, so you don’t have to focus on cleaning it this time and your brain is free to wander. That’s how I feel when I look at a blank page in a notebook.
“But, sir!”, you may be thinking to yourself, “can’t you just as easily stare at a blank text file on your computer and possibly have the very same reaction?” No, not really. At least, not me. Because so much of my time is spent in front of the computer, my mind immediately jumps to one of a hundred things I could be doing when my fingers touch the keyboard. Through years of doing this type of work, the computer has become “where I work”.
My notebook is my brain’s shower, my computer is certainly not.
Try it – put some blank paper and a pen on the table in front of you and just let your head splash around for a bit. Write down everything you think of, even the stupid crap. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the kind of creativity that can happen in such a simple circumstance. Think of it as pretending to get in the shower.
Photo by me – and, yes, that is my most recent order of Field Notes notebooks – shut up.