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To enhance your skills in creative writing, master the art of brainstorming. What is brainstorming, and how do you do it?
Brainstorming is a method of generating collective ideas, individually or as a group. Creative writers use this technique to solve problems or come up with numerous concepts about a specific topic.
But how do you start doing it?
Here Are 5 Tips To Help You Start With Brainstorming
1. Select A Facilitator Who Has Formal Training
If you want to brainstorm with a group, you should select a facilitator. The leader could be a teacher, a content manager, or a peer editor/writer who had experience brainstorming exercises in groups. It will be preferred if the facilitator knows group dynamics to lead the activity. An experienced facilitator who has formal training would lead the idea generation for the group to come up with numerous ideas.
2. Go For Quantity Instead Of Quality
The goal of brainstorming is quantity. The facilitator should reinforce the free flow of ideas in a group of 3 to 10 participants. Ensure that the venue of the activity is free from any distractions. For instance, the participants should focus on the brainstorming exercise and share as many ideas as possible.
It would be reasonable to prohibit checking one’s phone or browsing the internet using smartphones or laptops, etc., during the exercise.
3. Deviate From Making Comments About Suggested Ideas
Positive or negative, the facilitator should refrain from giving comments after hearing an idea. It would be better if the leader were neutral without showing any non-verbal gestures. The facilitator could acknowledge the concepts but without showing any emotion. Keep the ball rolling, and the generation of ideas should continue randomly and spontaneously.
4. Reinforce Creative Juices
Motivate participants to stretch ideas. Please encourage them to use creativity to create word associations. For example, one idea can be linked to another concept and so forth. There is no wrong and correct answers so, there shouldn’t be any hindrance to free-flowing ideas. (Source)
5. Create A Program Or Schedule
Write down the plan and list the topics to be discussed and the activities to be done: introduction of brainstorming, the discussion, the procedure, and other warm-up exercises. Include a timetable showing the time allocation of each activity.
Include short breaks ranging from 2 to 5-minute duration per 15-minute session or a 15-minute break between activities per long hour session. The average length of the actual exercise ranges from 15 minutes to hours, depending on how long the session will last. (Source)
Six Methods You Can Use To Successfully Brainstorm
There are many variations of brainstorming methods, but in this article, you will learn about the following: individual approach, nominal group technique, mind mapping, free-listing/outlining, questioning/journaling, and free writing.
When you’re working as a writer or an artist, sometimes, you need to generate ideas independently. To solve a problem or to come up with a creative masterpiece or creative content, the individual approach works for idea generation in this case. The hurdle arises when a person undergoes a “writer’s” block, for instance, because it leads to unproductivity.
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Nominal Group Technique
Idea generation using the nominal group technique involves a group consisting of 2 to 10 participants. Findings show that the Silicon Valley Ideo company gained their product innovations like the Apple Mouse, I-Zone camera, etc., from their regular group brainstorming sessions. On the other hand, students or a group of writers use this method in prewriting. (Source)
Mind mapping is a variation of idea generation, which is a visual method. Also known as clustering or “brain drawing,” mind mapping helps connect the relationship between ideas generated after brainstorming. It is the link of existing concepts.
Free-listing/Outlining is an essential prewriting activity that gives structure to the article or the ideas generated. This method is helpful for thought organization. The sentences you create in the group brainstorming session form the outline, which serves as a guideline for the writer.
It is a technique that enables you to utilize keywords, summarizing the topic in a particular paragraph.
Questioning/Journaling is the brainstorming process wherein the writer asks the W’s and H questions before writing. It provides the information: who, what, where, when, why, and how in content, and it presents the relationship of ideas. (Source)
The questioning/journaling method is a journalist’s technique that can also answer why the article needs to be written or the article’s purpose. This purpose has a lot to do with the user search intent.
Freewriting is the method of non-stop, random brainwriting to express thoughts and generate much information. Writing down free-flowing ideas activates the right side of the brain. This free writing method is spontaneous, without thinking or being conscious about rules in grammar or format.
In Psychology, it is related to the free association technique or the psychoanalytic approach. (Source)
Seven Tools To Help With Creative Writing And Brainstorming
It is vital to keep your content relevant and maintain a high score for readability and viewership for successful creative writing. With a lot of planning needed before starting the actual writing, here are seven tools to help you with brainstorming and creative writing:
Google Trends is a free website you can use to generate a topic for your article. It analyzes the trend or what’s popular to decide what topic you would like to write about. It’s a free platform where you can view the trending searches every day.
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But that’s not it, we brainstorm and research the keywords first to find you the best opportunities to drive traffic to your blog (without the hours of tedious researching of keywords). So, if it’s titles and traffic you’re needing help with brainstorming, then you definitely want to give our service a try.
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Buzz Sumo helps with coming up with content ideas. This tool has a paid but also a FREE plan. The free subscription has limited features, but you can get ten searches for free each month.
For each (Pro, Plus, Large) plan, you can get a 30-day free trial. Browse any trending topics and stay updated with the relevant social posts online using this platform. By using this tool, you can also monitor your brand mentions, competitors, and what’s new to your industry.
FreeMind is a free platform that allows you to do the planning, brainstorming, and note-taking. This mind mapping tool is a powerful software that enables you to organize your thoughts and structure your creative writing composition.
We use the Adobe line of software almost exclusively here at Farm 6 Media. And if you’re looking for a cool cloud-based software that helps you quickly build anything from social media posts to infographics to mind maps and more, then Adobe Spark is what you need.
Spark is our go-to for graphics and graphical brainstorming on the fly. It’s fast, it’s powerful, and it’s designed by one of the industry leaders in graphics – Adobe.
Portent’s Idea Generator is a content idea generator you can use online for free. Just type in a keyword you’re interested in writing about in the search bar, and it will suggest a catchy headline that is mostly scoring high in readability. It will spin up creative headlines if you click on Next. Change the title when you’re unsatisfied with the topic suggestion.
If you subscribe to the plan, this platform provides topics, content strategy, SEO recommendations, etc. The FREE subscription is functional except for its limited features, but it would also generate topics. It will suggest many ideas after you enter three keywords in the search bar.
When you want to be successful in creative writing, it’s essential to have a plan in mind and organize those ideas before writing. The idea generation you practice individually or by a group is what we call brainstorming.
The idea generation is also known as a prewriting exercise that involves 2 to 3, up to 10 participants. To come up with numerous concepts, a group can select which ideation technique suits their team’s needs. Brainstorming has many variations, including the individual method, nominal group technique, mind mapping, free-listing/outlining, questioning/journaling, and free writing.
Helpful tips before you start with thought ideation exercises include the following:
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- Choose a leader who has experience or has formal training with groupthink or group dynamics to facilitate the activity;
- Go for quantity of ideas–think and speak randomly about ideas or things related to your topic of discussion;
- Be neutral, and don’t give negative or positive comments about the ideas because the purpose of the activity is to generate numerous ideas;
- Inspire spontaneity by giving more ideas and reinforce the brain juices, and lastly,
- Create a program or schedule and write it on the board so the participants would know about the topic, discussion, and the duration for each activity including breaks and the actual brainstorming exercise.
To start writing creatively, you can choose from these six ideation techniques:
- Individual method—thought ideation process done outside a group or alone.
- Nominal group technique—idea generation process involving 2-3 up to 10 persons in a group, verbally voicing out their ideas.
- Mind mapping—a visual method also known as clustering or brain drawing, which shows the relationship of ideas created and it works for visual learners.
- Free-listing/outlining—a technique for putting structure into ideas generated and for organizing ideas.
- Journaling/questioning, a method of answering the questions who, what, where, when, why, and how of content to generate information.
- Free writing—is when you start writing whatever comes to your mind without inhibitions or minding the grammar or format of your content.
There are several tools available online to aid in successful creative writing and brainstorming. If you need help coming up with a catchy topic for your article, you can check out the following platforms which offer their product or software tools for free or a minimal fee: Google Trends, Farm 6 Media, FreeMind, and Portent Idea Generator.
HubSpot and Buzz Sumo are the two of the most popular tools many creative writers use nowadays (not us, admittedly); they offer a free version with limited features using their software and give 14 to 30 days free trial if you opt to subscribe monthly or yearly to their available plans. Idea Flip is a tool for mind mapping and topic ideation, but it requires payment.
Previous research findings have shown that individual brainstorming is better than a group. However, results show that individuals outperform those who brainstorm in a group due to interference, which is greater than stimulation. The stimulation is present when an idea is shared, which leads to more concepts. On the other hand, a group outperforms an individual when the opposite happens: stimulation present is higher than interference. (Source)
- Wilson, C. (2013). Brainstorming and Beyond, A User-Centered Design Method. Waltham, MA: Elsevier.
- Paulus P & Nijstad B. (2003). Group Creativity: Innovation Through Collaboration. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Dhanya M. & Dr. Alamelo C. (2020). Methods and Significance of Prewriting: Activities in Acquisition of Writing Skills., Retrieved September 14, 202, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alamelu-c/publication/354118597_Methods_And_Significance_of_Pre_Writing_Activities_In_Acquisition_of_Writing_Skills/links/612624c12979ad5d601758cf/Methods-And-Significance-of-Pre-Writing-Activities-In-Acquisition-of-Writing-Skills.pdf