Review: Accidental Genius

Accidental Genius Cover image

I just finished a book entitled: Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing by Mark Levy. Through the use of what Levy calls “Private Writing”, he teaches us how to generate amazing “genius” ideas (and have fun doing it) – all while breaking us out of the ruts in which we may find ourselves.

Private Writing is a free-writing technique that Levy presents, in which you write as fast as you can without worrying about grammar, spelling or whether our ideas are any good. The goal here, is to silence the inner critic – that part of us that censors our work (and often tells us that our work is garbage). How does this work? In the book he states, “If your mind knows your head won’t stop moving, it’ll ease up on trying to edit out your ‘inappropriate’ and underdeveloped thoughts.” I personally have used something similar when creating mind maps and each time, I have been amazed at the new and worthy ideas that crop up. By writing quickly and putting down anything that comes to your mind, the inner critic no longer bothers to keep up with you and instead, gives your free reign.

At first glance, the technique reminded me of the Morning Pages method that Julia Cameron discussed in her popular book “The Artist’s Way”. But there is a big difference between the two. While it is true you are writing whatever comes into your head, you are doing so with a focus. Perhaps you are examining a problem in your life or want to come up with ideas on how to move the plot of your novel forward. This is where the inspiration part comes in. By focused free-writing, we no longer only stick with what we know to be safe and sure to be accepted by others – instead, we open ourselves to new ideas and new ways of looking at things. According to Levy, this method is excellent for problem solving.

In the book, Levy provides us with six secrets to private writing, including “Write Fast and Continuously”, “Work Against a Limit” and “Write the Way you Think.” I found these three secrets especially helpful and relevant to my own work. In the next section of the book entitled “Powerful Refinements”, the author takes these secrets even further and gives us many methods using the six secrets, to expand our creativity and solve problems. Lastly, he shows us know to take the concept of private writing and apply in publicly in our blogs, presentations and published works.

If are someone who is paralyzed by the inner critic, using Levy’s easy and enjoyable methods will no doubt help you break free and stimulate your creativity – and stimulate that sometimes elusive “genius.” I believe this book would be useful to novelists, bloggers, journalists, marketers, presenters, troubleshooters – pretty much anyone who puts words to the page or needs to find a solution to a challenging situation. Recommended!


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