Careers

2 Exercises to Maximize Your Creativity First Thing in the Morning

Photo by Julia Davila-Lampe

This is not going to be a typical morning post. But then again, there are not many "typical" things about my morning.

I realize the benefits of your traditional morning routine staples — journaling, meditation, running. Surely they have helped thousands of people over the years. Adding all of these to my morning routine might make me a more fit and mindful person.

There's just one problem.

They all make me want to vomit.

As a writer, I realize that I am supposed to love journaling. It's reflective, after all. It helps you process your feeeeelings. It helps you learn from your life.

Blah, blah, blah.

I never got into it.

Meditation is just as bad. Maybe I just have trouble with being stillness, but in the morning, I'm ready to GO. I don't want to sit and think about anything.

More from Todd Brison:
3 Phases Every Creative Professional Must Go Through
A Piece of Advice College Students are Unlikely to Hear
Journaling is Annoying. Here's What I Do Instead

Besides, I don't use my mornings to reflect, I use them to progress.

The exercises listed below are not confined to the writer's lifestyle. As a matter of fact, I would think they'd be more useful to someone who is not a writer. Over the last two years, I've used them in a non-artistic role, and doubled my salary.

Turns out good ideas are pretty valuable.

Let's break them down:

Exercise #1: Micro Journaling

Micro Journaling takes the mindfulness benefits that comes from journaling and gives them a laser focus.

This, far and away, is the number one thing I've done to open my mind up throughout the day. Best of all, it only takes about 10 minutes.

At the start of every morning, do these things:

a) List the date at the top of the page.

Actually, for a time, the only "journaling" I did was write the date every day. I had pages and pages full of dates like a crazy person.

In a world where hours melt into days into years, it helps to have an anchor to each one.

This will remind you you only have one shot to live the day you are about to live. I'm writing this on December 6, 2016. I will never have another opportunity to live December 6, 2016.

b) Write 10(ish) ideas for something

This can be anything from what to get your spouse for Christmas to how to invest your money to why Mark Zuckerburg would make a good politician. Just write 10ish ideas on the same topic. I say "-ish" because your whole goal get to the point where you can't think of any more ideas.

Once you get to that point, write 5 more ideas.

c) Write one thing you are grateful for

You don't have to be particularly clever or wordy with this. Plenty of my entries just say "Kate" or "roof." Gratitude promotes abundance thinking. When you appreciate what you have, more comes.

It's the same with ideas.

Here's my finished product for today:

(For more details and some templates, I have a dedicated post here.)

Exercise #2: Stream of Consciousness Writing

I have to confess something to you: There is an obnoxious little twit living inside my brain.

His name is Editor Todd.

If left unchecked, Editor Todd meticulously scans everything I write and say and do throughout the day. He is critical and nervous and mean.

Every day, he must be silenced.

I'm willing to bet you have an inner editor too. Someone who critiques your every move. I'm also willing to be that editor has stopped you from living up to your full potential at some point or another.

Stream-of-consciousness writing is something I adopted from Ernest Hemingway. You may have heard of that guy. He woke up each morning and wrote to get his "juices" flowing. No distractions. No inner editor. Just the man and his story.

Most writers try and get in about 750 words, but I'm a bit more lenient.

I write as much as I can as fast as I can for about 10 minutes.

My morning pages look like a third grader wrote them. Doesn't matter. I will never publish them. You don't have to show anyone yours either.

For the most part I don't even look at the words, even while I'm writing them. If I'm using a monitor, I'll turn it off so I'm looking at a black screen. If I'm on my laptop, I'll lean the face so that the computer is parallel to the ground.

The whole point, really, is to unleash exactly what you are trying to say — without the social pressures or the judgement which comes from being a human. There is nobody watching. In this moment, it is you and the page.

I dare you to free yourself. To say something without filtering. To stop with the doubt and the worry and the second-guessing. I dare you to create without fear.

I dare you to be you.

After all, that's what the world needs most.

For more from Todd Brison, and to participate in his Christmas book giveaway, visit ToddBrison.com/booksforchristmas.

This commentary originally ran on Medium.com.