We’ve talked about it more than once, leaving the phrase up to interpretation. We want to talk about it more. But we can’t do that if we continue to neglect defining what it actually means.
Here’s what comes up on the first page of search results when you type “brain rush” into Google:
BrainRush, “high-efficiency game-based learning” from Adaptive Practice™ (they’re also on Twitter @GoBrainRush and they have, at this moment, 536 likes on Facebook)
Brain Rush, the Android puzzle app (Brain Shape Rush for IOS)
Brain Rush (the American T.V. game show that lasted, count it, one month)
Putting the words “brain” and “rush” together isn’t something new. There are a lot of companies and concepts out there dedicated to combining creativity and fun with learning and thought development.
In a way, we’re doing the same thing. Writing is a creative process, but it requires a lot of brain power. Sometimes it’s hard to get a string of thoughts together; other times, it’s impossible to stop thinking.
Therefore, we like to use the phrase “brain rush” too. Maybe a bit differently than playing a game or watching reruns of a short-lived T.V. show (if you want, you can watch the Cartoon Network show promo here).
What is brain rush?
For writers and other creative thinkers, brain rush is that occasional yet glorious (and sometimes annoying, inconvenient, overwhelming) period of time when ideas rush into your brain nonstop. Old ideas, new ideas, odd combinations of both—you’ll be reading something, watching something, eating dinner, and boom—brain rush. Sometimes so severe you have to write something down, fast.
Why? To make room for more ideas, of course. But really because the feeling of harboring multiple ideas at once, accompanied by the fear of forgetting them, is worse than actually (temporarily) forgetting them.
How do you manage brain rush?
Whether you’re for writing down your ideas or against it, find some way to get the ones that stick out to you most out of your head somehow. Make a note in your phone. Scribble keywords down on a post-it note. Record a voice memo. Do something to free your mind from the rush of thoughts inside. Then, leave it there and go on with what you were doing before the rush.
When you go back to your phone, post-it, voice memo, whatever your method, your list of ideas might not seem quite as promising as they did when they first came to you. This is exactly why it’s never a good suggestion to jump on a new idea the second you think of it. With the rush comes excitement, a tiny bit of healthy mania. It’s likely, though, that only a few of those original thoughts, or maybe even just one, is worth developing further.
Is brain rush a good thing?
It can be, if you know how to manage it. After period of “brain drought” (much more justifiable than writer’s block, because your brain can’t block thoughts that aren’t there!) brain rush can quench your creative thirst and melt your fears of never being able to come up with a decent idea ever again (we’ve all been there).
However, learning to use brain rushes to your advantage takes practice. It takes time to figure out a good spark-record-review cycle. It takes time to figure out which ideas are promising enough to turn into future projects. Over time you learn your style, your strengths and how much of a challenge is too much.
In a sudden rush of creativity and abstract discovery, it’s not easy to know what to do with all the ideas you’ve transferred from your brain to another device, ideas that, seemingly, came out of nowhere.
That’s why we practice. That’s why we refine our craft. That’s why it’s okay, every now and then, to try out an idea, decide it isn’t working, and set it aside. Like writing itself, managing our ideas is a process. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s so frustrating it seems impossible.
Creativity is unpredictable. Expect the unexpected. Power through the drought. Drink in the rush. Whether you’re putting the fun back into learning, creating an app or pitching a new idea for a game show, ideas will come. Often all at once. In the middle of the night.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.