How to make sure you don’t run out of ideas: Isaac Asimov’s method

Original author: Charles Chu
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In a word, Isaac Asimov can be described as follows: prolific. To match the number of novellas, letters, essays, and other texts that Azimov has issued in his entire life, you will need to write a full-size story every two weeks for 25 years.

How did Azimov manage to give out so many good ideas, while everyone else has 1-2 of them in his whole life? To answer this question, I studied his autobiography, " It was a good life ."

Azimov did not write texts from birth 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. He tore pages, despair, and occasionally he had failures. In his autobiography, Azimov shares the tactics and strategy he developed so that ideas no longer end.

Let's steal everything from him.

1. Never stop learning

Azimov was not just a science fiction author. He had a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University. He wrote works in physics, in ancient history, and even wrote a book about the Bible. How did he manage to cover such a range in the century with myopic specialization? Unlike modern professionals, Azimov did not finish his studies, having received a degree.

In principle, I could not have written such versatile books based solely on the education I received in school. I had to constantly engage in self-study. My library of books was growing, and I had to constantly rummage through them, fearing that I would misunderstand a question that would seem absurdly simple to a knowledgeable person.

To generate good ideas, you need to absorb good ideas. The diploma does not end there, it is just beginning

When Azimov grew up, he read everything.

All this varied reading, stemming from the absence of a guiding hand, has left its mark. My interest manifested itself in twenty different directions, and remains so. I wrote books on mythology, on the Bible, on Shakespeare, on history, on science, and so on.

Read a variety of books, curiosity, invest in yourself without stopping.

2. Do not fight the impasse

Interestingly, Asimov also often got stuck.

Often, while working on a science fiction novel, I found myself stuck and could not write a word.

Jamming is normal. A professional from an amateur is distinguished by what happens after he is stuck. Azimov did not allow this event to stop himself. Over the years, he has developed a strategy.

I do not stare at blank sheets. I do not spend days and nights, pounding on an empty head. I just leave the novel and take on one of a dozen other projects waiting for me. I write an article in a journal, an essay, a story, I work on non-fiction. When I get tired of them, my mind has time to work and re-fill. I return to the novel and find that I am able to write again easily.

When writing this article, I despaired, left it and worked on other projects for two weeks. And when I created the space to work, everything seems simpler. The brain works in a mysterious way. When you step aside, do other projects and intentionally ignore something, the subconscious creates a new space for ideas.

3. Beware of resistance

All creators - entrepreneurs, writers, artists - known fear of design ideas. As soon as we have presented something to the world, it becomes an eternal target for rejection and criticism from millions of eyes.

Sometimes after the publication of the article I am terribly frightened and do not read comments and letters about it. This fear is the greatest enemy of the creator. In the book " The Art of War " [The War of Art] Steven Pressfield [Steven Pressfield] calls this fear and resistance. Azimov, too, was familiar with the Resistance.

An ordinary writer is always questioned during work. Does the sentence he just made make sense? Is it as good as possible? Can it not sound better if you write it differently? An ordinary writer always revises the text, always cuts and changes, is always in search of other ways of self-expression, and never remains satisfied.

Uncertainty kills consciousness. I am a ruthless editor. I ruled and shipped this article a dozen times. And she still looks bad. But you need to stop, or I will not let it out at all.

Fear of rejection makes us “perfectionists.” But this is only a protective shell. We hide in it at a difficult time. He gives us a sense of security - but it is false. In fact, everyone has ideas. Seeds of creativity germinate through the sills of the mind. The difference between Asimov and us is that we reject our ideas, not giving them a chance.

If you have no ideas, then you will not have failures.

4. Lower standards

Asimov was an ardent opponent of the pursuit of the ideal. According to him, trying to do everything perfectly for the first time is a big mistake. Instead, pay attention to the basic details.

Imagine yourself an artist creating a sketch. He needs to clearly present the composition, color blocks, balance, and everything else. Having done this, you can begin to worry about the little things.

Don't try to draw Mona Lisa the first time. Lower standards. Make a test product, a temporary draft, a rough draft.

At the same time, Azimov insists on self-confidence:

[The Writer] cannot sit and doubt the quality of the writing. He must love his work. I like.

Believe in what you create. This does not mean that you should not try to do everything as best you can every time. Belief in yourself is to go beyond, to fail badly and find the strength to rise again.

We fail, we fight, and therefore we succeed.

5. Do MORE

Interestingly, as a cure for perfectionism, Asimov recommends creating more.

By the time a certain book is published, the writer does not have time to worry about how it will be received and how it will be sold. By that time, he had already sold several other books and is working on several more, which are the cause of his unrest. Thanks to this, his life is enhanced by a sense of peace and tranquility.

If every few weeks you have a new product, you do not have time to whine over the failures. Therefore, I try to write several articles a week, and not concentrate on one “ideal.” Less anxiety from failures. Diversity is insurance for a reason.

6. Secret ingredient

Azimov’s friend, a writer who fought with a lack of ideas, asked him once, “Where do you get your ideas?”. Azimov replied, “I think, I think, I think, until there is a desire to kill myself. Did you think it was easy to think of good ideas? ..

He spent many nights alone with himself.

Last night I could not sleep, and I lay and thought about the article that I needed to write, and I thought, thought, and wept in sad places. It's been a wonderful night.

No one promised that to come up with ideas is easy. If it were easy, it would not be worth it.

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