Mark Levy’s “Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content”
Book Review, Assessment and Guidance to readers submitted by Pramod Kumar
Mark Levy’s “Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content” is lead you to produce uncensored reel or offers free-flowing framework where you can watch yourself think. The title was very attractive to me because I always wanted to write what I think, what I observe in day-to-day life, but hesitation stopped me. The main idea of the book is freewriting and this technique protects your brilliant ideas before your internal editor cancels them! I believe the author did a fantastic job of elaborating freewriting. I am very much excited about learning the freewriting techniques that I would be able to use to map my ideas.
Summary of content
The book was broken into three different parts giving some fundamental secret of freewriting technique, additional techniques to further enhance the skills and then preparing you to going public with your content.
Part 1 outlines six core freewriting techniques which Mark called as secrets
Part 2 elaborates improvisations techniques
Part 3 advises on publishing the material in various forms
The first core practice of freewriting is to lower the expectation of quality of content and focus on just writing whatever comes as idea. Mark insists, giving several powerful examples, that only think about giving 90% as it doesn’t put undue pressure and it’s not better than 110%.
The second secret is about writing fast and continuously, which author asserts as the essence of freewriting. By writing fast and continuous you can put your editor side of brain in dormant position and allow your ideas to come out on paper freely. Author talks about importance of quantity of uncensored content that you have produced on paper without giving “second thought”.
The third secret tells you about working against a time limit which exerts due pressure on you as well as motivates and energizes you.
The fourth one is “Write the Way You Think”, which emphasizes you to keep your original language that you speak naturally. Since the content is not going public and addressed to yourself, no need to worry about your thoughts and words you use.
The fifth secret is “Go with the Thought” talks about following the logical thought process of “agreeing and extending” is has been a proven method of freewriting. You may never predict where a single thought may lead you, maybe towards a completely uncharted territory!
In the sixth secret, the author asks you to “Redirect your attention” by asking meaningful questions that gives you new directions. The questions need not be very complex. They could be as simple as “how can I make this exiting?” or “what am I missing here?”. The simple but powerful purpose of this technique is to change your focus by challenging your mind in that moment.
Part 2 further adds several powerful refinements to the above discussed six basic freewriting techniques. One of the accompaniments elaborates “Idea as Product”, which makes your writing unique as it maps your mind on paper. Use of prompts, which are open ended phrases e.g. “yesterday I saw something exciting….” or “I remember…”, are great way to lead you on freewriting journey. “Open up Words” challenges you to think about your understanding or meaning of words and then you can compare the meaning with available definitions to gain insight. This part also discusses about escaping your own intelligence, using assumptions to get unstuck, getting many ideas than crafting one, learning to love lying, holding a paper conversation, dropping your mind on paper, writing like marathon, doubting yourself, using exact writing, extracting gold from your favorite business book and your focus as your identity.
Part 3 guides you to properly publishing your content in the form of books, blogs, magazine articles or other media. This section talks about getting feedback on raw thoughts, helping others through freewriting, art of skimming stories from daily observation, building an inventory of thoughts, writing under your own rules, fascination method and freewriting to finished prose.
Analysis and evaluation of the book
I believe the author very well engaged me as a reader giving seamless analogies, anecdotes and empirical illustrations. As I have recently intended to master writing briefing note, I am bit concerned, as I need an active editor side of brain to quickly reconcile pile of information and concisely write for a very specific audience i.e. political masters.
As a policy professional, after reading this book, I hope that I will employ two professionals an editor and a writer and a critic. Just I need to practice drawing a line while doing one thing and then handing over the work to other personality as soon as I finish. Although I read this book within a short window, it built a good foundation to build upon my writing skills. I learnt about six great secrets and some of the building blocks that I can use to improvise my writing.
Guidance to readers
Since several years, working in the field of science my work was mostly focused on quantitative and qualitative data gathering, analysis, abstracting and presenting the information in meaningful ways. My career was focused on very specific writing i.e. writing for extension of new technology or writing briefing notes, as concisely as possible, strengthening my internal editor for every single word or phrase that I wrote. Now, reading ‘Accidental Genius’ unlocks other side of my brain, probably I never dared to use it before. I believe that this is going to be so much fun taking flight of ideas and writing then down on paper and then revisiting them or sinking in a fantasy of things and peaking my own work as a different person. Go ahead and purchase the book and I assure you that it will be a great addition to your life!