Books about business leadership, blogs on creativity, writing workshops. They all talk about brainstorming and methods of forcing the good ideas out of us.  Sometimes I think that that point of view might be counterproductive.

Because have you ever noticed that it’s when you are not trying to come up with a good idea, when you are not striving to produce some innovative method of doing something that it is then when an idea comes to mind?  It happens in a very casual way. It comes at us sideways, out of the corner or our eye.  And if we let it, it floats  right by. That is probably why we don’t always notice it. Because it is just appears to be out there (not within us at all) passing by like mist.  And so we think, ‘well that was odd but it’s nothing more than that; a stream-of-consciousness moment without any real meaning. But maybe it was a lot more than that.  Maybe it truly was something extraordinary.

It’s the type of thing that comes to mind and we get ready to say it to someone else, maybe starting with the words “What if..” or “Have you ever thought” or “You know, I wonder about…” and we stop and don’t say it because it seems so silly. And it probably is. It is probably outright ridiculous. But one of those ideas won’t be. One of those passing, mist-like things is (or was) a life-altering, ingenious revelation that just needs to be grabbed and wrestled to the ground so that it won’t float away.

And it probably won’t come during brainstorming sessions.  It’ll come when you are staring blankly at a puddle, feeling like you are thinking about nothing. Or it will come when you mind goes off, distracted from the shot in the move taken from the backseat of the 60’s car with the parents in the front.  Or it will come while you are playing around with what is left of the Saltine in your mouth.

You can’t force it. It will come. You just have to see it and grab it.

And then you have to write about it.