It’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month which is why I decided to post this topic. I hope you find it helpful wherever you are in your writing journey.
This information is taken from my book, The Writer’s Creativity Journal. It’s available from Amazon in print and ebook. The Writer’s Creativity Journal
Brainstorming is where your creativity can have fun. This is isn’t just for starting a story. Brainstorming happens throughout the writing of a book. For the purposes of this Writing Creativity Journal, you’ll probably utilize this tool to scribble ideas down.
It isn’t hard and it can be really fun. I believe it’s a process that should be used from beginning to end. Learning to hone this skill will prove invaluable in providing focus and a story that will surprise the reader because you didn’t choose the easy route.
This is where it all begins! Aren’t you excited? You should be. So many ideas are waiting for you to discover them. If this isn’t something you’ve tried before, give it a chance.
Some of you might not need to use this technique all the time, but when you do need to pull this out of your writing toolbox it will be there. In time you may find you’ll be brainstorming more and more.
The left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other but it’s flawed. Of course, this flows into our writing. We develop ways to stop the inner editor (the left) from interfering with the creative process. This is where those little negative comments come from such as “that’s dumb” or “I can’t believe you wrote something so stupid.” One way to stop the nagging left to shut up is to work fast with the right side, not giving the analytical portion a chance to formulate anything.
After writing for so many years I find I brainstorm throughout my project. I constantly use it to keep me focused on the story and characters. Through trial and lots of error, I’ve learned what questions to ask myself when something isn’t right. Some of you may do this already. Learning how to do this can save time and frustration.
The beauty of brainstorming is in its versatility. It helps when you don’t have much of anything for your story or when you have too much information crowding your brain. Even if you think you can’t brain today, you’d be surprised at some of the ideas squeezing through.
From scraps to nothing at all:
When your mind is like a blank sheet of paper on a topic. Your inspiration has dried like a puddle of water in the summer sun. Outside forces such as anxiety about the topic you’re writing on can be a problem. Or for a multitude of reasons your mind is too tired to put together an outline of any kind (let alone a coherent sentence.) In this case, brainstorming stirs up the dust whips some air into still pools of thought, and the breeze of inspiration moves again. Choose the method that suits the dominant side of your brain and have fun!
When you have too much information:
There are times when chaos reigns and you need to bring in some conscious order. In this case, brainstorming forces the mental mess and random thoughts to pour onto the page. This gives you some concrete words or schemas that you can then arrange according to their logical relations. The picture becomes clearer and other ideas are stirred, in turn enriching the story or characters.
How do you know when to brainstorm?
When bits and pieces of a story keep nagging at you to get it down on paper or whatever device you write on, then you know it’s time to sit down and begin the process of sorting out information.
This is the time for exploring possibilities. Give yourself permission to create, be crazy and let go. Don’t worry if you write something stupid, just ignore it and go on. Lock up the inner editor for now. Let it out later. If it helps bribe your inner critic with chocolate, ice cream, a movie whatever works for you.
Once you finish, go over what you’ve created. Again, don’t automatically say it’s all crap or stupid. Be open to how something could become a unique plot twist or a possibility for backstory or a current problem for one of your characters. Sometimes a fresh perspective of looking at the problem from a different point of view is all it takes to put you back where you should be with your story.
A Word About NaNoWriMo
For those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo for the first time or since it’s inception, I wish you the best. Don’t feel bad if you don’t finish. So many writers beat themselves up over it. Whatever word count you end up with is more than what you started with for the project. You have the added benefit of meeting new writers and learning new things from the forums. If you have aspiring novelists in your family, this could be a great family project. NaNoWriMo has a Young Writers Program. National Novel Writing Month
I made a NaNo Word Count Chart for anyone needs one.
See you soon!