Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Help Inspiration Seek You Out

Being prolific means having an awareness plan.

A metacognitive procedure or mental recipe for perceiving and thinking about the environment around us. A lens for interacting with the world. A plugin for the human operating system.

For example:

What if you saw everything as edible? What if you dreamed up alternative interpretations for the events you noticed? What if you hypothesized people’s potential relationships with each other? What if you imagined past and future reincarnations of every object you encountered?

Those are awareness plans.

Psychologist Herbet Leff coined the term in Playful Perceptiona quietly published book from the early eighties.

But despite its relative obscurity, a number of renowned academic publications dubbed his work as groundbreaking research in the field of cognitive science. In fact, since its original publication date, dozens of bestselling books on innovation and psychology have touted its validity, citing his book as a definitive work on the topic.

This book completely changed the way I approach my creative process. The simple idea of choosing an awareness plan helped me realize that with the right lens, the right posture and the right filter, inspiration will actually seek you out.

Take analogous thinking, for example. That’s the process of transferring ideas from one field of knowledge into another. Like when we were kids and our teachers gave us quizzes like this:


1. map : wall
2. relaxation : den
3. sunlight : patio
4. recipe : kitchen

The strategy is to ask the question, “What else is like this? How can I apply the basic concept in front of me some other domain of life?”

The answer is “d”, in case you were wondering.

Of course, that’s just one example.

Awareness plans come in all shapes and sizes. Analogies work to help inspiration seek me out.

The exciting part is, once you find the awareness plans that work for you, they become a precursor for prolificacy. They stimulate insight and curiosity, improve cognitive readiness and psychological openness, influencing your feelings and views of the world, freeing you from the bonds of traditional perceptual sets and helping you treat things in life in a constructive and enlightened fashion.

With a strategy like that, writer’s block will become a thing of the past.