Accidental Genius
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Accidental Genius

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  520 ratings  ·  68 reviews
When it comes to creating ideas, we hold ourselves back. That’s because inside each of us is an internal editor whose job is to forever polish our thoughts, so we sound smart and in control, and so that we fit into society. But what happens when we encounter problems where such conventional thinking fails us? How to get unstuck?

For Mark Levy, the answer is freewriting, a...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published August 9th 2010 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. (first published January 1st 2000)
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Here is the core of the idea: free-writing is good.
That's really it. With no Science to back it up, it just turns into a book of anecdotes and techniques on more free-writing.

Do not get me wrong. Free-writing makes sense. I simply do not understand the purpose of publishing a book when it could be summarized in a blog post.
J.F. Penn
Freewriting as a way to tap into your creativity. Writing fast as a way to get around the internal editor. Your inappropriate thoughts are where the action is, where the originality resides. Using time limits to encourage the creative process, and lots more.
Joyce Morin
I love this book because it connects the dots for me with what I have been learning in my training in the Professional Coach Training of Wellcoaches. That is, there are different ways to gets things done, and when we do something physical, like the act of writing by hand or even typing, we are accessing a different part of our brain than when we just "think". I learned that if you get up off the chair and walk to a different space, such as a huge ruler/scale of 1-10 on the ground and pace off th...more
Tyler Hurst
I normally shy away from books, blogs or even conversations about writing, as I'm not exactly educated in the ways of writing. I've never taken a creative writing, english or even journalism class, though I've written blogs, one book and tons of journalistic articles.

Perhaps I'm worried that books like this will use grammar and writing terms that I won't understand, which will make me feel stupid, which makes me want to make fun of the book.

But Mark Levy didn't do that hear. The book wasn't a qu...more
The Accidental Genius presents the concept of freewriting (akin to brainstorming) and has a wealth of ideas on how to go about doing this, from using a timer to chunking (breaking large tasks or ideas into smaller ones). While not all ideas are original - the author properly credits his sources - the book acts as a good resource for getting started. But this is also where the book comes up short. All the ideas are treated as equally useful and no time is spent on how to process or synthesize the...more
Nov 21, 2010 Babs rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers, etc

it comes to creating ideas, we hold ourselves back. That’s because inside each of us is an internal editor whose job is to forever polish our thoughts, so we sound smart and in control, and so that we fit into society. But what happens when we encounter problems where such conventional thinking fails us? How to get unstuck?
For Mark Levy, the answer is freewriting, a technique he’s used for years to solve all types of business problems, and generate ideas for books, articles and blog posts.

Recovery for Writer's Block

Mark Levy has graced the writing world once again with this revised version of ACCIDENTAL GENIUS first published ten+ years ago: yes, it is an improved edition! Levy's gift to the world of writing, whether that is aimed at the professional novelist, the casual writer, the business person responsible for churning out meaning documents for the improvement of the company, etc, is such a practical one that at first reading of the original it made many of us wary of the wor...more
Amazon review:
hen it comes to creating ideas, we hold ourselves back. That’s because inside each of us is an internal editor whose job is to forever polish our thoughts, so we sound smart and in control, and so that we fit into society. But what happens when we encounter problems where such conventional thinking fails us? How to get unstuck?

For Mark Levy, the answer is freewriting, a technique he’s used for years to solve all types of business problems, and generate ideas for books, articles and...more
I took my time with this, wanting to actually try the writing exercises Levy outlines. Thanks, Janelle, for the loan. Again, apologies for coffee stains and Hannah artwork . . .

The book is geared toward the business world, but I think a lot of useful things can be gleaned from it. I especially gained a lot from the chapter titled "The Benefit in Growing Tired of Yourself." I don't know if I had any "genius" moments in my private writing, but I certainly feel now like those moments are out there...more
Michael Wilson
This book discusses the many benefits of the freewriting technique, which inspired my Flash Writing technique. The concept is the same. Write as fast as you can, write in timed writing sessions, don't edit and write at the same time, etc. This book focuses on the use of freewriting in problem solving for business managers, marketers and content creators.

This doesn't lessen the book's value for the professional writer because most of these techniques are applicable to the freelancer or starving n...more
Dave B.
Accidental Genius was a great book and it changed my personal view of journaling on a fundamental level and improved my ideas generating process at work. I occasionally try to journal my thoughts but often find it hard to come up with any ideas or motivations for putting pen to paper. This book motivated me to use free writing as a spark for daily journal entries. I double my personal writing habits just from the 6 easy steps to free writing. I highly recommend performing the exercises and readi...more
I'd rate the idea much higher than the book itself.

I have no doubt, confirmed from my own experience plus what I have learned about how the brain works, that conscious activities can free the subconscious to spew out creative ideas that can be later acted on by the conscious mind.

The book, however, could have been delivered as a 1-page pamphlet. Too much of the book (over)explains a very simple concept in over-pedantic, plodding style.

I got through 3/4ths of the book's audio version. After the f...more
NOTE: This is the highly-revised edition of the book that came out some ten years ago, which I didn't read. He notes that he threw out 17 chapters in the old edition and added just as much new, so it's not the same book as it was.

Mark Levy has taken freewriting and shows its practical application as a tool to access the unconscious for new and deeper solutions to business problems. However, the information he presents is as easily applicable to a writer wishing to solve plot, character, structur...more
I really liked the concepts and structure in this book. It reads like a workbook, but you don't have to do the work if you'd rather read through (like I did). I found some of the ideas to be insightful and useful, but not earth-shattering. I'm looking forward to trying some of the ideas put forth, and really hope to get some useful things from it. If nothing else, I enjoyed the read (which isn't something I can say for all the business/self-help books I've read).

Pick it up if you have the chanc...more
The idea here is to use 'freewriting' as a way to get your thoughts on paper, as part of solving a problem or growing your business, or just getting started on a writing project. You might not think that such a simple idea could be expanded to book length, but you would be wrong. Oh, sure, the main points actually could be presented well and thoroughly in a short pamphlet, but you wouldn't be inclined to shell out $17 for a pamphlet, now would you.

Snarkiness aside, I suspect these are some reall...more
I grabbed the unabridged version from Audible on a whim. I'd seen it reviewed in a blog and thought "eh, why not?"

I'm surprised how much I like this book. His techniques for clarifying thoughts and problem-solving are spot-on. Just yesterday I had to build a set of slides that I REALLY didn't know how to complete. I free-wrote for 10 minutes on the topic using one of Mark's approches for getting started. At the end of the 10 minutes I had several great ideas on paper and know how to shape the ov...more
Книга довольно не однозначная.

Написана очень легко и легко читается. В конце каждого раздела есть ряд упражнений, которые рекомендуется выполнять. Очень доходчиво рассказывается о том, что такое фрирайтинг и как его использовать в различных областях нашей жизни.

Я попытался делать конспект книги для того, чтобы затем представить его своим знакомым, но в итоге понял, что идея бессмысленна, так как придется писать в конспекте всю книгу, пропустив только очень незначительную часть.

Если вы хотите изм...more
I enjoyed this book and can see this being a reference and idea book I would return to for writing suggestions and help again and again. This book is not just for those who want to write though. The advice in Accidental Genius can help anyone in any industry who has a problem to solve or needs to communicate with others. This could be a great tool in business for those who are open minded enough to give it a shot. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was easy to listen to and not annoyin...more
This book was a godsend. It contains so many ways that help me unravel my skittish brain in a way that lets me reflect and consider things more clearly.

It's framed as a business book, in the context of developing your golden thoughts so you can apply them, but openly acknowledges its own derivation from processes that help you become a better writer. Better writing, better business, better thinking, all are pretty applicable in my life at this point, so what a springboard these techniques are!

Kenny Pratt
People ask me all the time why I blog about business. What they don't know is that I write about all aspects of my life, just not publicly. I never really contemplated why this was so fulfilling, I just thought others were silly for not doing it.

When I read Mark's book I felt like I found a lost friend. He articulates why writing is so effective at generating insights, solving problems, and pushing your mind to explore areas it would otherwise be too lazy to go. He also resonates with me becaus...more
I accidently bought this book; I had planned to get Accidental Creative. It was still a good read. I liked the ideas, but the book format didn't seem cohesive. I guess the author wanted to have a book with a flow like someone talking to the reader, but I found it a bit annoying at times.

I tried the exercises and the suggestions, but unfortunately it didn't really do much for me. I haven't gained much insights (as yet), but I still continue the exercises in the hopes that I may, and also because...more
This is not specifically a writing book, that is just how I am using the suggestions. The focus is on tapping into unfiltered thoughts to get at new, innovative solutions to problems. The best way to do that, according to Levy, is to use a style of journaling that breaks through the "editor" in all our heads. I have used the process now and enjoy it a great deal. I have found that physically journaling is harder than electronic journaling. I type much faster than i write so journaling electronic...more
Ben Dunay
This is a weird review, because… I consider this book a "must read" for business types who are in charge of anything they really care about, yet I only give it three stars. This is because I really didn't enjoy reading it that much. It wasn't a "fun" book to get through. But, I'm glad I read it and I recommend it to you if you're interested in getting the very best out of yourself, or if you are interested in finding your very best ideas. It got me "un-stuck" already, and I'm using the book's te...more
Jon Kneifl
It was pretty good, has great information on becoming a great writer.
Bill Sheridan
This book has changed the way I read and organize my thoughts.
I really liked this book, but it's not the kind of book that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. It's more like a brief map of the techniques that the author uses to turn off his internal editor, and create content. After finishing the book, I've freewritten only occasionally with limited success. The problem I have is that when I type as fast as he recommends, even I can't read the results.

I'm hoping to try the marathon writing session soon, as it's one of the ideas that I really liked in the book.
Wonderful book, and fun too. As someone who has always liked to journal, this book helped me use journaling as a tool to uncover answers for myself. While automatic writing, or writing one's stream of consciousness, is free flowing, Mark Levy's tips help take the material and in a sense focus it, make sense of it, or let it develop yet another stream of consciousness. I highly recommend this book to anyone willing to use writing to uncover any aspect of one's life. Easy, enjoyable reading too.
This one is tough. Mark's ideas are very interesting and likely useful, but this book very much felt like a long article turned into a book.

Maybe the reputation is necessary to really hit his point home.

This felt a lot like the The Einstein Factor: A Proven New Method for Increasing Your Intelligence.
Samantha Newman
So far I can see that there are some aspects of this book that I can use, transfer to how I think and what I want, but it's really aimed more at business people, with that sensibility and phrased that way, which doesn't appeal to me at all. But again I can see how it can get some writing juices flowing, I just have to ignore all the dumb business speak and all the time he wastes just to fill up space. This book could easily be a pamphlet rather than a book.
Jan Kellis
This book contains many valuable ideas and methods for generating ideas painlessly, and how to keep those ideas organized in a 'thought inventory' on the computer. It's slanted toward business writing, but the concepts can be applied to any writing or problem solving process.

I highly recommend this book, and I'm planning to re-listen to it (I have the audio version, which is well done) to soak in more motivation.
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