Can booze make you a thought leader?
Think. Write. Lead. - Issue #65. Research shows what your brain can do with some alcohol in your system.
This is the fourth installment in a 7-part series about the neurobiology of thought leadership. Catch up here:
Intro: The Neurobiology of Thought Leadership
Can alcohol make you more creative?
Well, there’s this 2012 study, where a group of people who had been given vodka-cranberry cocktails, performed better at solving a problem than a sober group.
It turns out that your brain is a pattern recognition machine.
When you're sober, your brain tends to look for familiar patterns.
But since alcohol affects focus and broadens attention, it helps the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to look for crazy ideas (which is what you need for thought leadership).
I'm not trying to create a new category of drunk thought leaders, BTW.
There are other ways and techniques that don't include getting inebriated or high before writing.
Let me give you two of them.
1. Begin with an unfamiliar idea
Intentionally start with an unrelated idea to what you're writing about. That way you force your brain to expand its search parameters and possible associations.
Here's some advice from Steven Kotler:
For example, if charged with writing the company newsletter, start with the weird. Instead of: “Last month, we hit our quarterly numbers,” try: “Last month, employees found a baby elephant in the lunchroom.” The point is not that you’ll end up starting the newsletter with that sentence (most likely, you’ll edit it out later). Rather it’s that trying to come up with a sentence that follows the elephant line and is actually relevant to the company newsletter forces the brain to start to make unusual connections.
2. Try freewriting
Freewriting is the process of just writing whatever comes to your mind, without pausing to think about what it sounds like and definitely not editing it. It’s simply a stream of consciousness.
Freewriting helps you find your writer’s voice which can sometimes get buried under what you think you need to sound like.
After a few minutes of freewriting, work your way back to your topic.
“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down”
Is there evidence in your writing of unique pattern recognition (non-obvious content)? Or is your content becoming obvious lately?
Do you have a writing tactic or method that ensures you are not falling back into familiar territory over and over?
Let's try a freewriting exercise.
Write anything that comes into your head. Don’t stop to consider your words.
Just start with whatever’s in your head. Don’t wait for a beautiful first sentence to appear.
Resist the urge to edit. Let the words flow out of you.
Avoid judging your draft. It’s not about writing beautiful prose but about exercising your brain.
Writing like a thought leader requires more than just presenting data or research findings. More than giving your opinion.
You must make associations and connect the dots.
Grab a beer or a glass of wine if it helps. Or just try the exercises above.
In any case, don’t let your writing become stale and obvious.
Don’t try to be better. Be the one.
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I loved this installment. I am going to grab a glass of apple cider when writing my book. The elephant is hilarious.