Editor’s note: This is a guest post by James Adams whose ideas on building a better brain are top notch.
Brainstorming is a valuable method for rediscovering your creativity. Some days, you are drowning in an ocean of ideas. Others, you are looking at the desert and hoping for an oasis. You are creative, your brain just needs a bit of priming. Here are ten methods for brainstorming to get the idea river gushing.
1. Free Writing
Stream of consciousness writing is one of the most unpredictable forms of writing. You do not know where your brain will lead you, but you can be assured that it will be interesting. There is no special preparation for this method. Open a new Notepad window or pick up a sheet of paper and start writing.
Start writing poetry about your favorite topic. Use words that rhyme. Write the song that is going through your head. Pick your favorite prefix or suffix and start listing all of the words within which that fragment resides. Attempt to be as silly as possible.
3. What If?
Most novels are written on the premise of ‘what if?’ What if there were no water on our planet? What if there were too much water on the planet? What would happen if our feet were digitigrade instead of plantigrade? Ask some what if questions and see where the answers take you.
4. Mind Map
Mind mapping is an exciting method of generating ideas because you are building on the idea of ‘and then?’ You are mapping out those tangents that your mind takes. Take a concept or idea and write it in the center of your page. Write concepts and ideas around that idea until something interests you. When you exhaust the options for one of the topic, elaborate on one of the subtopics.
Take two unrelated topics and attempt to connect them. Start with the question ‘How is _____ like a ______?’ and see what happens. Your brain is geared toward answering questions, so you will immediately start finding answers. Write down your list and see where it leads.
6. Role Playing
How would someone else handle the situation that you are in? What would someone else have for dinner? This exercise is all about looking at the alternative perspective to a problem. How would the person that you dislike the most care for their pets?
Start with a common problem or situation that everybody has. Write a list of surreal solutions. There can be no reasonable or completely feasible answers on this list. Once you have your list, search for items which can be altered to become viable.
This brainstorming technique is perfect for analytical people. This is like the mind map method. You are using writing instead of drawing to convey your ideas. Start with a broad subject and break it into subtopics. The outline method is very useful for writing non fiction.
9. 77 Storms
When you are brainstorming, aim for a specific number and do not stop until you have reached the number. Do not judge the ideas, merely fill the page. This will give you ideas and directions.
Look at the items which surround you and ask questions. What is the history of this object? Why is the mantlepiece made of faux wood? These questions are intended to be childlike because it will spur on your brain. Search for answers to your questions after ten minutes.
Using these creativity techniques will help you to get your ideas once again flowing like a river. Brainstorming will add that extra push to your writing and take you in exciting directions.
By day James writes reviews of products such as the HP 300XL ink cartridge for an online print cartridge supplier based in the UK. By night he indulges himself posting about design and media on their blog.