The brain drain + Tips for designing a cafe patio

The technique that's great for excavating cobwebs from your mind.

The brain drain + Tips for designing a cafe patio

Hello! If you’ve been reading this newsletter, I value your feedback and would appreciate it if you can fill out this anonymous survey. It’s four questions long and will take less than a minute unless you have additional comments. I’ve been feeling a little stagnated here and would like to evolve it to whatever the next stage will be. Related to the above and in my general lack of creativeness, I started The Artist’s Way. I’m on day two of a 12-week program and I’m hoping it’ll give me some creative clarity.

My birthday was on Monday and I booked a last-minute short getaway in a cabin. I ended up herding escaped goats that morning. Anyway, it was too short a trip but it did give me some downtime that I really needed.

Featuring my own work & press

The brain drain

I call it the brain dump, and I even have a note with the same name on my phone. But “brain drain” rhymes and is probably more attractive sounding than “brain dump.”

The brain drain is when you set aside some time and write. What do you write about? Literally anything in your brain. Whatever thoughts are coming to your head, including things like “I don’t know what to write about,” “why am I doing this,” and “I feel useless and not like a writer.” You don’t stop and think about what you’re writing until you’ve reached that point where you feel your brain drain is done.

I first learned this technique when I was doing NaNoWriMo. Writing 50k words in one month is no joke. And it’s all about the word count; editing is not encouraged until you’re done with the challenge. At the time, I struggled to write so many words daily – especially since I had chosen to do a fiction novel – something I had not written in at least five years. My character’s quotes? I felt like I used every synonym for “said” in the thesaurus.

So I was introduced to Write or Die. It’s still available, but it hasn’t been updated in four years, so I’m unsure how good it is now. But the idea was to input a word count goal and a time limit. You could choose the level you wanted and this affected how the site would react if you stopped typing. For example, I think the basic level started showing red at the edges of your window. The extreme level actually started deleting characters if you stopped writing. Other options would make loud noises. Anyway, it was very effective.

Nowadays, I use the brain drain technique when starting an article and finding myself blocked. I might get too focused on finding the perfect first sentence or not knowing how to structure an article, so as a consequence, I have a blank text document staring back at me, basically taunting me.

And since starting The Artist’s Way book that I mentioned in the intro, the brain drain is in action every morning. I’m supposed to set aside half an hour in the morning to brain drain for three handwritten pages (called “Morning Pages”). Three! Pages! Handwritten! My hand was cramping halfway through the first page. But it’s a brain drain that you set aside and don’t reread until much later, if ever. The idea is to clear out the morning cobwebs to open your mind up to more creative pursuits. I’ll get back to you in a month or two to tell you if it’s been working.

So, the next time you’re stuck in a creative problem or feel like you’re blocked, I recommend trying out a brain drain. Also, if you start doing The Artist’s Way or have done it, I’d love to know about your progress!

How to Design an Outdoor Seating Plan For Your Cafe

[BYLINE] For the FC relaunch, I wrote tips on how to design your own cafe patio.

Quick text updates & links on what’s new on the networks

Instagram is testing NFT sharing.

Meta added Challenges for its Reels play bonus program (monetizing Reels).

Twitter is testing a Tik-Tok-like format in their Explore tab, Circles (I wish I was part of this testing group!), and attachment of videos and gifs,

In other social networks, LinkedIn added some new features for Creator Mode and updated its feed algorithm. TikTok is testing replacing the Explore tab with Friends.

Helpful links on how to improve your digital marketing
How Content Marketing & PR Combined Can Generate Leads

How Content Marketing & PR Combined Can Generate Leads

Content marketing and PR seem to be on opposite ends of the communication spectrum, but combining the two offers a fresh approach to lead generation.

Calculating ROI For Instagram/Facebook Ads

You put a lot of effort into your social media campaigns. But, how would you know if it’s working? Learn about calculating ROI.

15 Behind the Scenes Content Ideas to Share on Instagram [Infographic]

Are you looking for ways to improve your Instagram marketing strategy? Want to create more engaging posts that humanize your brand?

Anything I’ve enjoyed reading recently
Writing While Asian and the Burden of Education

Writing While Asian and the Burden of Education

Some look to Asian American stories—which are always “timely,” always worth uplifting—to manifest a worth, a dignity, that should have already been evident.

I’m an Introvert With High-Functioning Anxiety — Here’s How I’ve Grown My Business

Ashima Sharma wasn’t sure if she’d be able to start a business as an introvert with anxiety. Here’s how she pushed past her doubts to succeed.

The Worst Boyfriend on the Upper East Side

[A long but fascinating read] For decades, a man has romanced New York women, persuading them to invest in questionable business deals. How did he keep running the same scam?

An update from my container garden!
My best friend gifted me this airt plant holder + air plant for my birthday!

My best friend gifted me this air plant holder + air plant for my birthday!