Brain Prompts

I’m in management and the company I work for put on this executive presence seminar.  Basically it was an eight hour session teaching us how to hold ourselves while speaking in front of people.  That’s a very basic way of putting the torture I went through that day but that boils down to the meat of it.  What to do with your hands, inflections, body language, tone of voice, all that jazz.  And we were filmed.  And were forced to watch ourselves.  It was awful.

One of the modules we did was speaking under pressure.  We were made to stand up in front of our peers, while being filmed, and we were asked random questions that we had to answer.  We had no knowledge of the questions before we got up, and some of the questions were downright ridiculous (one of mine was defending why using bunnies as security was a viable option for the company).  Others were questions that were pertinent to our jobs, in some cases posed by our superiors, and most of us kind of freaked out when that happened because we were searching for genuine answers in a mock Q & A scenario.  All of this, horrifying.

To that module, the instructor was telling us that people start to get bumbled up when speaking when they start second-guessing the answers their brains give, especially when put on the spot.  Instead of rolling with the first thing that pops into our minds, we start saying that’s not good enough, I need something better.  The brain slots something again, you continue to say I need better, and eventually (and rather quickly) the brain goes, none of my shit is good enough for you?  Fine.  I’m out.  And then you’re left drooling a little as people stare at you and wait for you to form a coherent sentence.  What we had to do was roll with the first thing that popped into our minds, embrace natural pauses instead of filling with sound (a la filler words), and just let it roll and own what we were saying.

My god, were they giving me writing prompts in a presence class?  YES!  I CAN DO THIS.  And I did.  And I owned it.  And I defended the shit out of those killer bunny rabbits.  And you know what?  It actually works.

Your brain is a rather phenomenal thing and if you allow it to do what it’s good at and stop getting in its way it can spit out some wonderful things.  Once I realized I was basically working with writing prompts and I was being encouraged to utilize the creative side of my brain in a very A-type of situation all sorts of light bulbs came on and I wanted to try this in an actual creative situation.  Can I really roll a story using this same technique?  Just get the hell out of my brain’s way and see what it gives me?

A good situation to use it in is Writer.ly’s (@WriterlyTweets) six word story prompts.  It’s a slightly tweaked scenario because you do need to form the thought into six words but instead of tossing away all the thoughts that come first, I tried using the first one that came to mind.  Just the first.  Worked it into six words and owned it.  Boom.  Tried it again.  And again.  My brain’s like OMFG DID I NOT TELL YOU TO TRUST ME ON THIS???

I urge you to try this.  Stop second-guessing your ideas and your thoughts.  Go find a prompt, blank out your mind, and wait for the first idea to float its way to the top.  POP.  And roll with it.  See where it takes you.  None of this ‘it’s not good enough’ or ‘I don’t like that idea.’  Just see where it goes.  Your brain knows what it’s doing.  That’s not to say you’ll be able to spit out a novel without editing.  If only.  But when you start tossing away things your brain gives you is when you start getting all bottle-necked.  Your brain’s giving you shit to work with but you keep getting in your own damn way and eventually your brain’s just going to leave you to your word leavings and make you cry into a glass of wine.

It’s really almost meditative but without the extensive effort required to meditate right.  All you need to do is blank your mind for a second, give it the space it needs to sprout of up an idea, and PLOOP.  There you go.  Own those security bunnies.  They are your babies. Don’t second-guess them.  Don’t question their existence.  Just give them life and BELIEVE in that life.  No one says it needs to be a substantial life, or that you need to see it into adulthood.  Just give it a chance instead of flicking it away into brain oblivion.

BTW: security bunnies?  They’re totally evil as evidenced by their red eyes and their fur actually consists of small needles and is not soft in the slightest.  Good luck petting one.  Not to mention the abhorrent amount of feces.  No one’s going to want to walk through that AND have to fend off an evil, needle-furred creature.

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