Today We Finally Define “Brain Rush”


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.

How Learning to Dance Taught Me to Write Fearlessly


I had not danced in 10 years.

There was a reason I was a choir student and taking a creative writing elective, not spending my free time in a dance studio: I was terrible at it, and I knew it.

In high school, it’s hard enough blending in. You typically avoid anything that would bring unwanted attention and embarrassment crashing down on your moody, adolescent head.

It was my second year taking creative writing. Taking summer classes and an extra course in the mornings left room for something fun. I wanted to be a writer because that was what my teachers told me I was good at. I wanted to learn as much as I could before college essay writing season, and picking a new place to call home, and leaving for good.

I did not, however, plan on learning to dance.

So the day we abandoned our notebooks and pens and traveled in a nervous pack to the empty auditorium, I didn’t know what to think. I was a writer, not a dancer. I didn’t understand why we were about to get up there and embarrass ourselves instead of spending the period writing, as usual.

“Everybody grab a partner,” our teacher called out, and of course, everyone paired themselves off except for me. No one notices the shy girl in the back of the room.

Suddenly I went from doing everything in my capacity to avoid becoming the center of attention to walking to the middle of the stage, with our teacher as my partner, as we demonstrated how to waltz.

Well, he tried. I just stared at my feet and tried not to die.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we went back to the auditorium again the next class period, and the next. We danced with partners and in groups. The class was made up of freshmen through seniors, but that divide shattered completely once we all realized it was either dance even though everyone’s watching or suffer a failing participation grade.

I hated every minute of it. I really did. And I regret that now.

I didn’t get the lesson he was trying to teach us back then. I just wanted to sit at my desk and work on strengthening my action verbs. I had no interest in letting loose, discovering what it was like to close your eyes and stop caring about what everyone else was thinking about you.

Even though I hated it, those class periods filled with music and laughter and dancing did remind me that creativity comes in many forms. Writing is a skill, an art, but if all you do is sit around and try to measure your own progress, you’re going to get bored.

But there was something even more important he wanted us to remember.

In high school, you’re supposed to start figuring things out. You’re supposed to start learning to act like an adult, sort of. College is coming. Maybe your parents want you to get a part-time job for the experience. You have to take X number of classes to graduate, math included. It isn’t always fun, and when you look back on those three-and-a-half or four years, you probably won’t recall much of what you learned.

Except waltzing. Which I still remember to this day.

I remember how he had to yank us out of our element to bring our hearts to life.

I remember how, after those class periods, I treated every lesson he ever taught me like gold.

I learned to be brave—in the stories I write, in the places I travel, in the choices I make as an adult with no sense of direction. Or rhythm.

I learned you have to feel like an idiot sometimes. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll spell a word wrong and everyone will call you out on it. You’ll pitch an idea and no one will give it a second glance. But you have to learn to live with that.

You have to learn that even though you’re not good at everything, at some things, you have potential.

So I don’t dance well. Still. At all.

But writing? I think I can do that.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of zaimoku_woodpile [Flickr].

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.