How My Brain Works (Part 1)

I’m a lucky man. Creativity come relatively easy to me. Unfortunately, a lot of folks struggle with idea generation.

So let’s take a look at the techniques I use to create content.

I know that if we dig deep inside my brain, there will be a few things you might take away (just don’t take my medulla oblongata – I need that for the whole breathing routine).

Otherwise, feel free to pick up some of the habits I use to maximize your daily output and minimize your daily stress.

So here’s how my brain works:

Fact #1 – It Works Overnight

The first thing I do when I get up is to scribble down all of my ideas. My brain is full of them first thing in the morning.

And I get up early because that is when I am most creative. As a result, I’ve designed my life around this fact. Early to bed, early to rise.

So you need to design your life to reach your goals based on what you know about your strengths and weaknesses.

If you work best in the morning, get up early. If you work best at night, clear your social schedule and use that time to write.

Heck, I’m even getting in the habit of “training my subconscious” to come up with ideas overnight. It’s worked before…and I’ve used the strategy with naps too.

You simply put in a “request” to your brain when you go to sleep, giving it a problem to solve.

I’m not joking.

Let’s say you’re having trouble with a headline for your sales page. Read the headline before you go to bed. Review the principles of great headlines and sales copy. Then tell your brain to come up with something better while you sleep.

You should wake up with a good idea in the morning.

Don’t believe me? Check this out…

Perhaps you’ve heard the folklore about Napolean Hill.

He was given a deadline to come up with the title for his book, “Think and Grow Rich”. At that time, he hadn’t come up with anything better than the dismal, “Use Your Noodle to Get the Boodle”. Seriously.

So on the day of the deadline he had a nap…and he woke up with a much better title for his book that went on to sell over 20 million copies before his death in 1970.

Bottom line:

Our brains work in mysterious ways.

What most people don’t do, however, is identify their best creative techniques and maximize the time spent on them.

But that’s what separates massive content creation machines – such as Dan Kennedy, Bill Bonner, Malcolm Gladwell, and Stephen King – from those folks who can’t write a 10-page newsletter each month.

And I’m just getting started…tomorrow we’ll take a look at Part 2 of “how my brain works” and how this can help you be more creative.

We’ll cover:

– Why you get your best ideas in the shower
– How to use mindful meditation for creativity
– And one thing I do every day to get good ideas

In the meantime, I’m interested to hear how “your brain works”.
Do you have any creativity or productivity tips?

Share them on the blog here:


Have a great and creative week,

Craig Ballantyne

“Apply true focus to what you do best.” – Frank McKinney

  • Great post. I meditate on things that I am working on and things that I want. I just bought Silva’s Mind Control and it has brought some insight into the process. Also, writing things down is a must for my brain to process the information and then remember my ideas. I email myself from my phone with the idea as soon as I wake up too, that seems to help, so I read the idea later.


  • Staying organized is huge.

    For example:
    – content ideas
    – blog post ideas
    – affiliates to contact
    – projects on the go

    Putting all your ideas in one spot like a note pad.

    Rick Kaselj of


  • I’m an undergrad entrepreneurship major with a tendency to evaluate business models for a hobby. As such, I’m constantly generating new ideas whenever I confront a company (it might help that I started my first company when I was 18). When it comes to being intentional about idea-generation, I find that I can’t sit down and force myself. I need to relax and go do something outside that keeps me moving. Currently, that is playing basketball. I have found that it clears my mind and kick starts new ideas.

  • Marat

    To tell you the truth, my creativity up until very recently was very deep asleep and is just waking up thanks to your and your friends’ publications. And i know it will take a while to actually start being an idea generator like you guys – but i already start hearing a terrible squeaks in my brain, and it is a good sign…

  • For me, if my brain isn’t producing content ideas I survey my readers via my newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter. That’ll usually give me a flood of ideas.

  • Running.

    When I’m running I can solve the worlds problems.

    The problem with THIS is that when I’m running, I’m not in the position to stop, and start scribbling… so sometimes by the time I get to the end of my run the fantastic solution that came to me has been swept away by other thoughts. I’m still trying to figure out how to overcome that issue.

    and the shower…

    two places where I can’t just write stuff down. DAMN! LOL

    Any suggestions to keeping those ideas in my head until I can get to a place to record it?

  • I get ideas first thing in the morning or in the shower too…

    But one thing that really helps spark ideas is to plan WAY in advance and take notes on some big project you want to do. Trust me; if you wing it and just plan a week or so in advance you won’t do as well as if you had planned months in advance.

    Because you’ll be thinking about that project in your daily life and will come up with SO many different ways you can tweak the idea to make it better before you even put it into plan. By the time you actually start working on the project you’ll have covered all the bases, top to bottom.

  • I get floods of ideas whenever I get out of my own way! Struggle thinking simply doesn’t work – but switching activities to something physical like gardening or walking, sets off a flood of ideas.

    Meditation or any type of process that slows down the mind and allows inspiration to flow also works well for me. And handing over to The Universe/the unconscious mind etc just before sleep is a great way to tap into inspiration. I often wake in the night with brilliant ideas and keep a pencil and notebook by the bed so I can scribble in the dark.

    Like Jackie, the problem is often keeping track and recording all these ideas – particularly if they come at times you can’t write it down!

    The biggest problem I have is having enough time to follow through on all my ideas – I need ten lifetimes to do all the things I think of.

    But your time management tips have been brilliant Craig, I have put a poster up on my wall to remind me to focus on the 5%. (Woops! In posting this I have just done an activity that is not in my priority AM time-slot – your newsletter is hard to resist reading!)

    Annie D:)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Annie, keep up the great work.

  • AJ Mihrzad

    Enjoying this blog, Great and practical info…I look forward for part 2

  • Talking with other creative people can stimulate ideas for me. Using smartphone to put ideas into electronic notes or email to myself.
    I see piles of twisted steel, electronics and found objects and can envision them becoming something, from it all or one piece of something and then make it into something, I do it with few, if any drawings and schematics, except when working in bigger groups, it is times that I am making something when I get ideas for other things, just like the zone of Yoga and exercising can get one into. One week at burningman almost every year stimulates a year’s worth of ideas, in so many areas of my life.

  • Jackie and Annie, you might consider purchasing a small digital recorder to keep track of your ideas as you are moving about. In fact there are some specifically made for sports that you can just hang around your neck. I have been using one for years as I bike a lot.
    Also, most cell-phones these days have a recorder as well. Hope this helps! 😉

  • Anna Preston

    Bath crayons aren’t just for kids…DON’T let your best ideas go down the drain! Write them on the walls of the shower! Scrubbing them off later provides another opportunity to meditate on all the possibilities : ) Your naked ideas in Crayola color…try it!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Cool, thanks Anna