As we continue our “Write for Story,” series, where we’re learning how to incorporate elements of fiction to make our blog posts more memorable, this post will take us behind the scenes, so to speak, and discuss the pre-writing process that takes up much of a novelist’s time — brainstorming.
The world is full of distractions that can prevent us from losing our focus. In order to write clear, concise copy, however, we need to maintain that focus. But often, just like Winnie the Pooh poking his head and urging his brain to “Think, Think, Think,” my poor mind needs help.
Karen Wisner, in her book First Draft in 30 Days, suggests that not only do we need to brainstorm an idea at its conception, but at each stage of the writing process. (If you’re not familiar with this book, the link I’ve inserted in the text goes to Karen’s web site and has a lot of information included in the book.)
Brainstorming is important whether you’re writing a novel, a magazine feature, a devotional, or a blog post. While Karen’s book deals with novel writing, the brainstorming prompts she suggests can be used in all genres of writing. She lists over 25 brainstorming exercises. Here are just a few that I’ve adapted from novel writing to blogging:
1. Make a soundtrack for your current project. Choose songs that fit specific parts of your book or the theme of the whole book. Listen to your project’s soundtrack while driving, walking, or exercising. Each time you hear a song from your soundtrack, it will inspire you to brainstorm more.
2. Get out of the house – go anywhere – and people watch. Observe those around you to get ideas from gestures, movements, hints of an overheard conversation, or even just the way people look. Jot down any ideas you gather in your notebook.
3. Incorporate some fun tools into your brainstorming process, such as a mind map or a visual thesaurus.
4. Write a “letter” to one of your blog readers or write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your readers. If you write to your audience, this note is not to send them, but just to see where it’ll take you. When you write from their point of view, try to think like your readers think, ask questions they would ask.
5. Write with a partner on separate projects in the same room, then read to each other what you’ve written. Not for the sake of critique, but to uplift and energize your muse.
6. Go outside and lie on the ground (wait until after winter is over!). Admire the clouds, birds, and nature with all its sounds and smells. Incorporate some of those same sights, smells, sounds, and sensations into your next blog post.
What are some of the brainstorming techniques YOU use? Share your tips with the rest of us.