Use Dieseling for Idea Creation and Expansion

23 July 2021

Neal Stephenson described the ‘after writing’ process that takes place as dieseling. It is the process of generating fresh ideas or expand existing ones while our brain engine is still running due to a preceding deep work or flow state.

So why this works?

When we want to start whatever creative process, all we are striving for is to get in some kind of flow state to get things done. To get there we have to warm up our creativity muscle. Once it’s warmed up you are in the zone.

When we stop whatever we are doing, the engine(which is our brain) is still running. Still spinning. The muscle is warm. So ideas are still being generated under the hood.

Neal described this with the old diesel motor engine that used to run in old cars example. Once you turned the engine off, it would still be running even though you turned it off. There was no way to stop it. All you could do was to wait until it eventually stoped by itself.

I’ve noticed that after a deep work session, when I stop and I go for a walk or just gaze out of the window, that is when my best ideas come. Natural and effortlessly.

Your mind is still fully occupied with what you were doing but you are not even there.