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6 Brainstorming Exercises for Writing

Brainstorming Exercises for Writing

There will always be days when creativity doesn’t seem to be present for writers. Projects become stalled, a mind becomes blank, and ultimately nothing gets done. If you’re stuck in one of these moments of stall time, then why not try one of these proven brainstorming exercises for writing? Each offers the opportunity for you to revive your creativity.

#1. Write Free

Sometimes the best way to generate ideas is to get your mind out of the way. Writing freely without rules or consequences will help you be able to at least get yourself moving in the right direction once again. Set a short time limit, about 10-15 minutes is good, and then just write whatever you happen to consider.

Ignore all of the rules. Don’t worry about bad grammar, typos, or misspelled words. Just write until your timer sounds.

Once you’ve finished writing, then you can go back through what you’ve written to see if any new ideas can be developed from the process. Now here’s the good news: even if no new ideas were generated, you still got yourself working instead of sitting in a stall.

#2. Multiplication

This type of brainstorming exercise will help you formulate several potential ideas because you’re working on several freewriting pieces simultaneously. Instead of working on just 1 item for 10-15 minutes, this brainstorming exercise has you working on 1 item for just 3-5 minutes. When the timer goes off, then you switch to a new piece or one you’ve already started. Have two or three actual documents that you’re writing on during this session and switch between them until you reach your overall time limit.

The benefit of this brainstorming opportunity is that you can multiply themes and ideas into one larger overall idea to develop by changing tasks rapidly.

#3. Idea Mapping

This brainstorming exercise could also be called “clustering.” It’s a way for a writer to explore the various relationships with greater detail. You would start this exercise by writing a central idea on a piece of paper. Then you would think of another idea that relates to the first central idea and link the two together.

Now you think of a third idea – one that relates to the previous idea. Link this idea together and now you’ve created a chain. Keep repeating this process with every new idea that comes your way, linking each one to where it fits best on your chain.

Set a time limit – 30 minutes is more than enough time. Then after you’ve finished with your idea map, pick out the idea clusters that seem most interesting to you and begin to develop a story around it.

#4. Listing

Sometimes the best way to create new ideas is to use an old-fashioned brainstorming exercise. The to-do list is still very effective as a way to help writers create new characters, backgrounds, scents, or elements that need to be conveyed to a reader. Lists can also be used to anticipate potential reader questions, create logical arguments, or cover virtually any idea that may need to be addressed.

It can be tempted to edit your list during the creative process. Resist that temptation as best you can so that the creative process can strive forward without roadblocks.

#5. Navigation

In order to navigate in outer space, you need six specific coordinates to pinpoint an exact location. This is because you’re finding a location within a three-dimensional space. There’s a seventh coordinate also required – the starting point for the journey.

Writing is much like finding that one idea lost in a three-dimensional space. You can find it by brainstorming six different sides of the problem that you’re facing. Pros and cons, descriptions, usefulness, context – pick six ways to critically think through the idea. Then incorporate the ideas generated by this exercise into an outline so that you can approach your story with ease.

#6. The Basics

When in doubt, let the basics of journalism sort things out for you. There are six basic questions to be asked in basic journalism to gather facts: who, what, where, when, why, and how. If you can answer these six questions about an idea you have or even just a character you’re stuck on in a story, then you can add more details and depth to your overall writing.

These brainstorming exercises for writing can help every writer to get out of a stall quickly and effectively. Don’t allow a momentary lack of creativity hold you back. Implement one of these exercises today and see what results can come your way.


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Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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