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Kickstarting New Thinking: A Tip from Terra

When you need to get ideas down for a first draft, AI Generated copy can be a useful tool, but the quality and tone you’ll get out of it often takes more time and energy to fix than you might have available. And worse, you’ll be using someone else’s (potentially flawed) thinking rather than your own. 

As Natalie Goldberg says in her (extremely helpful) book Writing Down the Bones, “First thoughts have tremendous energy.” They are what will give thought leadership the most strength and authenticity.

But facing a blank page can be intimidating. Fortunately, all you really need is a single word, ten minutes, and a timer.

  1. Write a single word at the top of your page. (This can be your theme or topic, or even something randomly selected from an inspiring quote or article you’re reading.) For illustrative purposes, my word is “Start.”
  1. Set a timer for two minutes. 
  1. Once you start the timer, write whatever comes to your mind as you focus on your word. Keep your fingers typing or your pen moving until the timer stops, without going back to read what you’ve written or questioning yourself. 
  1. If you get stuck during this process, just write “I’m stuck” or the starting word over and over again until something else surfaces. Lists, fragments, memories, questions — truly nothing is off limits if it’s what’s in your brain. Just write it down. 
  1. When the timer stops, go back and read what you wrote. Find another word in there that isn’t the same as the first word, but stands out to you as being meaningfully related. (In my case, after “Start,” the second word I found was “Stubborn.”) 
  1. Set the timer again for another two minutes, and do the same thing for your second word. 
  1. When you’re done with the second round, read through what you just wrote, and find a third word in there that feels pertinent to the word you started with. (For me, after “Stubborn” came “Persistence.”)
  1. You know what to do next — fingers or pen constantly moving, no questioning, for two minutes on this third word. 
  2. When the timer stops for a third time, look back and see how much you wrote!? Now you can read through everything, looking for the common threads — this will help you decipher what’s really on your mind and in your heart.

Of course, you don’t have to sit down and do this (fun) exercise every time you need to write something new. Getting your thought leadership position established early on will provide a solid foundation from which to begin no matter what you’re building.