You are a genius.
You won’t make use of your creative power, though, unless you optimize your mind by the power of rumination.
I was discussing rumination with my mother-in-law the other day, and she made the comment, “I wish you would use some other word besides ‘rumination.’ That just reminds me too much of a cow digesting her food and chewing her cud.”
I said, “That’s perfect!”
Because that is exactly what I mean when I talk about rumination. You have ideas for your writing, but they take a while to form. You have deep genius from which to create, but the mining operation is slow and deliberate. Here’s how it works:
When you set your mind to something, you get your whole brain focused. When you set your mind obsessively, then you get your brain focused all day and all night long.
All of us are ruminating all the time. You may be ruminating right now. While you are trying to read this, you have thoughts intruding:
What will I eat for lunch? Why did Harry look at me that way? What does this headache mean for my health? Am I dying? If I die, what will the children do? Speaking of the children, did they get to school on time? If they are late all the time, they won’t do well in school. If they don’t do well in school, they won’t be able to get good jobs. Speaking of jobs, how is my job going? I’m having trouble finishing that project at work. I think it’s Jasmine’s fault. Ever since she started working here, there has been tension. I don’t think the boss notices. He’s too busy thinking about his upcoming trip to Texas. I went to Texas in 1985, and we had fun at the State Fair. Does Illinois have a State Fair? Surely it must. I should check with Darlene to see if she’s been before. It’s probably not as big though. Everything is bigger in Texas. Well, not everything. George is from Texas and he’s kind of short. Speaking of short, I was short with Harry yesterday. Will he be upset today?
And so on, and so on… You get the point.
Rumination of this kind is annoying and distracting. It shows you what you are concerned with. The brain is great at nagging you and bothering you about potential problems, but 9 times out of 10 these aren’t really problems and should be ignored.
The real magic happens when you can make the tendency to ruminate work for you. When you can program your mind to ruminate on a real problem you want to solve, you can unlock your genius whether waking or sleeping—yes, sleeping.
When we sleep we also ruminate, although it is somewhat more abstract than when we are awake. We are processing information and concerns so that we wake up often with a better understanding. Surely you’ve had it happen before that you either dreamed the answer to a problem, or you at least woke up with an answer. Increase the effectiveness of this tendency by deliberately programming your mind.
Programming for Powerful Rumination
There are two sides to the coin of programmed rumination. One is the positive side. Paul said to the Philippians:
8 whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8b ESV)
Spend time actively thinking about the problem you are trying to solve. If you are a writer, you are trying to solve the problems of what to say and how to say it. The more things in your life you are focused on as important, the more spread out your ruminations are going to be. This will drastically limit the effectiveness of your ruminations and increase the likelihood that they will be random thoughts that you have not invited.
But set your mind to focus on your story or your message, giving it your undivided attention. You will find more and more your ruminations serve that purpose. Waking or sleeping, you will solve the problems that need to be solved.
The other side of the coin is clearing out the usual ruminations that don’t serve you. If Harry pops into your mind, write it down on a list or a calendar to deal with or think about at another appointed time. Your mind is nagging you because it thinks you’ll forget to worry. Show it that it can forget about it because you have a list and your mind won’t need to keep track and keep reminding you at all the wrong times.
Your genius will reveal itself over several days of this. You’ll have ideas you didn’t know were in you. You’ll get and stay more easily in “the zone” for your writing sessions, and you’ll wonder how you were able to come up with the stuff. It was you—the deepest, most brilliant you—that you allowed to come out by focusing and clearing the distractions so your ruminations could serve you.
Try it and comment to let us know how it went!