Being prolific means having an awareness plan.
A metacognitive procedure or mental recipe for perceiving
and thinking about the environment around us. A lens for interacting with the
world. A plugin for the human operating system.
What if you saw everything as edible? What if you dreamed up
alternative interpretations for the events you noticed? What if you
hypothesized people’s potential relationships with each other? What if you
imagined past and future reincarnations of every object you encountered?
Those are awareness plans.
Psychologist Herbet Leff coined the term in Playful Perception, a quietly published book from the early eighties.
But despite its relative obscurity, a number of renowned
academic publications dubbed his work as groundbreaking research in the field
of cognitive science. In fact, since its original publication date, dozens of
bestselling books on innovation and psychology have touted its validity, citing
his book as a definitive work on the topic.
This book completely changed the way I approach my creative
process. The simple idea of choosing an awareness plan helped me realize that
with the right lens, the right posture and the right filter, inspiration
will actually seek you out.
Take analogous thinking, for example. That’s the process of
transferring ideas from one field of knowledge into another. Like when we were
kids and our teachers gave us quizzes like this:
FORMULA : LABORATORY ::
1. map : wall
2. relaxation : den
3. sunlight : patio
4. recipe : kitchen
The strategy is to ask the question, “What else is like
this? How can I apply the basic concept in front of me some other domain of
The answer is “d”, in case you were wondering.
Of course, that’s just one example.
Awareness plans come in all shapes and sizes. Analogies work to help inspiration seek me out.
The exciting part is, once you find the awareness plans that
work for you, they become a precursor for prolificacy. They stimulate insight
and curiosity, improve cognitive readiness and psychological openness,
influencing your feelings and views of the world, freeing you from the bonds of
traditional perceptual sets and helping you treat things in life in a constructive
and enlightened fashion.
With a strategy like that, writer’s block will become a
thing of the past.