How to silence the noise and come up with new ideas


The other day I tried a writing exercise I do every now and then – though not as regularly as I probably should. I simply sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down everything that sprang to mind. The start was a bit awkward, but after a while more or less useful ideas started pouring out of me.

“I can’t think of anything to write”

“I’m comfortable”

“I wonder who developed the very keyboard I’m using right now”

“How stupid am I? Can’t I think of anything that’s not right under my nose?”

“Have I lost my ability to manage money? To think? To write?”

“What do I want? Can’t I even think of that?”

“Maybe I should write a post about my portfolio and why I’ve chosen those items. I could, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve already done that”

“Perhaps I should jot down my current views on interest rates, currencies, bitcoin, stocks, the economy, gold, oil, real estate etc.”

At about that point, maybe 2 minutes into the exercise, I began getting surprisingly useful results.

I consider it a kind of meditation, a variant where the idea is to trigger as many thoughts as possible, as well as get them out of the way by writing them down.

I can’t claim it’s a new thing. I mean I essentially just brainstormed. I can’t even claim it’s useful, since the brainstorming wasn’t directed at a certain topic.

However, it felt really good, it was calming, and I came up with ideas in areas I never planned to. On top of it all I used longhand, which is particularly good for processing information and cementing the corresponding neuronal pathways.

Summary: try it; write a word a day

I won’t make this post longer than it needs to be.

Just take this as a strong recommendation from me to try writing (at least) just one sentence a day by hand. Keep a nice journal; write down a word, a feeling, a thought, something to do; sometimes keep going and make 10 seconds into 1, 2, 3 or 10 minutes.

  • It’s (probably) good for your brain.
  • It can be useful, but you won’t know that until you’ve tried it for a while.
  • It should make you happier, positively so if you write down things that make you grateful.
  • If it’s new to you, it’s good for you

Oh, don’t forget to subscribe to my weekly-ish newsletter, and get my e-book for free (investment lessons from 15 years at The European Hedge Fund Of The Decade)

If you get too many ideas, not least investment ideas, try bubble sorting them.


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