How Do You Brainstorm?

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One thing about finishing my latest novel, Rose House, and it being sent off to press is that I find myself strangely with no deadlines. All I can do is write. Imagine a writer having nothing to do but write!

One of the things I like to do during this period is come up with new ideas. I have a number of methods I use to come up with and dig into a new story, but they are all in some way forms of free writing. What my free writing amounts to is opening a file and writing with no care in the world. I don’t worry about mistakes or filter my thoughts at all. I was first introduced to this concept ages ago when a writing professor handed me a dog-eared copy of Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg.

I’m curious. For those of you who are writers, what sort of writing prompts do you use? What about the rest of you creative types? How do you brainstorm ideas?

4 thoughts on “How Do You Brainstorm?

  1. I loved “Stroller Anxiety.” The way you “don’t” brainstorm is very interesting! I love the free writing, but I have to admit that for both of my novels, I came up with the title first. For the one I’m writing now, it’s the same way. But once I get going I do the free writing to shape the story.

    I just need to get some 3×5’s and write things down like you do. Maybe it will help.


  2. Strangely, my ideas for essays or future novels come to me in “lines.” In sentences – or phrases. And I’m usually in the shower!

    You just read my “Stroller Anxiety” piece at Imperfect Parent and I wrote that after having the phrase “Stroller Anxiety” on a 3×5 card by my computer. The term came to me and I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, but I knew something. I could have incorporated it into a story to explain some new mom angst, but instead the whole story evolved.

    I have “first lines” written all over the place. And whether they are first lines of books, chapters or essays…only time will tell.

    So what am I saying? I guess I don’t brainstorm. Ideas just storm my brain. 😉


  3. Mind Mapping, picking random words from dictionaries, picking up a musical instrument, retuning the instrument and playing on that, listing attributes of subsystems and picking a couple randomly and try to put them together in a meaningful way. Sometimes I’ll randomly grab an idea generation technique from a list of resource sites and go to town.

    All the best!


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