5 Second Rule & other thoughts

First listen to this TED talk by Mel Robbins:

So many things resonated with me in this talk.  First, let’s talk about the F-word (no, not that word. pick your brain up out of the gutter).  Fine, as in ‘I’m fine’ – that word.

Fine is a passive word. It’s a reflexive response when we really don’t want to address something uncomfortable or without meaning to us. As a society, we’ve been programmed to give an answer to ‘how are you?’ or ‘is that okay?’ .  The default answer is ‘fine’.

When you are writing, fine is a cop-out. I don’t want to know that the character’s life is ‘fine’. Give me some fire, zeal, hopelessness, passion – something other than the passive aggressive utterance of ‘fine’. If you find yourself using the word ‘fine‘, ask discovery questions to define what you are trying to communicate.


If your brain is anything like mine, the hamsters running the brain synapses tend to run faster than a squirrel on crack – except in circles.  Some days I find it difficult to concentrate and connect my stray thoughts into a cohesive whole.

Most of us know the five-second rule when it comes to dropping things on the floor (if you ever hear of this rule being used in a professional kitchen – run!).  Simply put Mel Robbins 5 Second Rule is this.

adopt the Five-Second Rule—immediately. Anytime you have an idea that seems like a sure thing, act to advance it within five seconds. Why? Because your brain’s main job is to avoid trouble and risk, so in less than five seconds it will persuade you to abandon your idea.

I can’t tell you the times that I’ve had a flash of inspiration and said to myself ‘I’ll remember that‘ and within 5 seconds it’s gone. It’s a very frustrating thing. 

Here are some of the things I do to keep those moments of story inspiration:

  • Have a Pen/Pencil/Crayon on me at all times – that way I can scribble down the thought(s) with enough detail to be able to flesh it out.
  • Put the recorded idea in a safe place that I will remember – I’ve learned to centralize my idea files. One place in my bag, one place on my computer.
  • Create files that reflect when I expect to get to the idea – they are labeled – To Do, Later, Now.
  • Keep a ‘Brain Dump’ journal  – I use this to get things out of my head – annoyances, high’s and low’s, story seeds, successes, and moods (It’ll be the file that is deleted upon my demise).

Document your moments of brilliance so you can build the creative spark into a roaring, sustainable fire of creativity.



  • I cannot remember how many times I’ve had a great idea and promptly forgotten it. Great advice!

    • Thanks! I’d chalk my brain-farts up to age, but I know I’m having squirrel moments. 🙂

  • These are some fine ideas! 🙂 I know that great ideas that are gone five minutes later. This happens when I’m laying in bed and too lazy to reach for my kindle when I can save those thoughts in the notebook.

    • I completely understand. Best thought happen as I’m drifting off. Then the dilemma – wake up? finish drifting? I tend to drift. 🙂

      • Me too. Sleep is so precious.

        • Yes 8th is! 🙂

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