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Writing your way to a better idea

One of the hardest things for writers is the process of coming up with an idea. And understandably so. Finding a topic doesn’t just happen, and so when I had to write creative papers for my college courses, each one started the same way: with a brainstorming session.

The mind is a funny thing. Our brains are capable of making some astounding—not to mention bizarre–associations, and when you let your thoughts run wild, that random stream of consciousness is likely to result in some pretty interesting ideas. There are a million and one different brainstorming techniques out there. In fact, brainstorming has evolved to become a bit of a science—seriously just type the word into Wikipedia and see—but I usually find the simplest methods to be the most effective.

Freewriting is one such method. Even if you can’t think of anything to write at first, the simple act of putting pen to paper can get those creative juices flowing. Clear your mind. Let go. Write. It may take a while to get going, and you may only end up writing “I have no idea what to write” for the first ten minutes of your freewriting session. But that’s encouraged. The ideas will come if you let them, if you keep churning out sentence after sentence.

If you’re having trouble, try doing some more in-depth research on freewriting and other brainstorming techniques. I find instructive tips such as this one to be very helpful. Not every thought you have during a brainstorming session will be gold. In fact, most will be absurd or downright nonsensical. Just remember, it only takes one good idea for the whole brainstorming session to be worth it. Be patient and have fun. It works. How do you think I came up with the idea for this post?

3 Responses to Writing your way to a better idea

  1. jeffo says:

    In my writers’ group, we read a prompt then basically do a freewrite that should, in theory, be fired by the prompt. When the prompt doesn’t get me going I often end up writing about some little thing I observe: falling snowflakes, the sound of a passing car, an overheard conversation. I know my inspiration is *really* at a low point when I start writing about my pen. Then again, on a number of occasions, that little bit of silliness often unlocks something else. I’m a big fan of the technique.

  2. D. C. DaCosta says:

    Honestly, this sounds like too much work.

    I just brainstorm in the shower, or while waiting for the drawbridge to close, or in those few twilight minutes between the alarm clock and actually putting my feet on the floor.

  3. Lynn says:

    Like D.C., my best ideas come when I’m in the shower. And it never fails, if I’m having a problem with my manuscript – the solution comes while I’m taking a shower. It’s crazy!

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