Stop What You’re Doing. Here Are 3 Different Brainstorming Methods

How are you doing, Reader?

In my last post, I was able to share my BookCon experience with you, and I hope it inspired you to check it out! Today, I want to talk about the importance of brainstorming – what it is, why it’s important, and three different ways to do so.

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What Is Brainstorming?

Ever since I learned how to read and write, I was always told to brainstorm when working on new projects. You may be asking yourself what exactly brainstorming is and what it entails. Well, Reader, brainstorming is a process that helps get your creative juices flowing. Miriam-Webster defines brainstorming as “the mulling over of ideas by one or more individuals in an attempt to devise or find a solution to a problem.” Additionally, this concept is not limited to writing. Anyone can brainstorm regarding any situation they may find themselves in.

Furthermore, The Writing Studio at Colorado State University defines brainstorming as “an informal way of generating topics to write about, or points to make about your topic.” Even though brainstorming can be done at any point in the writing process, it is encouraged to do so ahead of time.

Why Is Brainstorming Important?  

Brainstorming is important for a lot of reasons. As I mentioned above, it is all a part of the process to get your creative juices flowing. If you are caught by one idea or cannot think of a way to circumvent or solve your problem, then you may want to take a step back and think on it for a bit. Brainstorming will help you to move forward. Additionally, I encourage brainstorming before jumping into a new project head-first because then you will be able to attack it on multiple fronts.

According to Linda Fanaras from Millenium Agency, “creative team brainstorming improves your critical thinking and problem-solving skills as an individual and a team. It also encourages collaboration on more than just major projects.” I have my own preferred methods for brainstorming, but, often, I find that in groups, it is helpful to bounce ideas off of one another and exchange advice. When collaborating on team projects, different ideas and perspectives can help strengthen the goals and lead to a better-than-imagined final outcome.

3 Brainstorming Methods

Now that we’ve talked about what brainstorming is and why it is important, let’s jump into the following three brainstorming methods. See below for more details.

1. Associative Brainstorming

Associative brainstorming is when you are given a word or phrase to work with and compile a list of all other words or phrases that pop into your mind. These words can be similar. For example, if I were given the word ‘ocean,’ I might think of words like ‘environment,’ ‘ecosystem,’ ‘water,’ ‘fish,’ and ‘beaches.’ The goal is to list as many words or phrases possible to help creativity flow as well as spark ideas for your project.

However, I might also think of words such as ‘pollution,’ ‘shark attacks,’ ‘tsunami,’ and ‘oil spills.’ It is not bad to compile a list of both positive and negative words. In fact, this can help you to become aware of or speak on any counterarguments in your project. Covering all of your bases is important. The takeaway – any and every associated word is welcome.

If you are stuck, you may feel free to refer to this wordstorming web page, where you simply type in the toolbar, and the site generates any associative words and their definitions for you.

2.  SWOT Analysis

Unsurprisingly, a SWOT analysis is listed as one of the 19 top brainstorming techniques. This verbiage often comes up in businesses or business coursework. A SWOT analysis is a breakdown of a project or organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses focus on internal pros and cons of your project or organization, while opportunities and threats focus on external factors that help or hinder your project or organization.

When brainstorming, people generally list anything that comes to mind using bullet points. Reader, you are able to jot this down however you see fit. Meanwhile, I prefer to format my SWOT analysis in some type of chart or excel spread to make it easier to read and understand.

3.  Blind Writing

I feel as if this old saying applies to multiple scenarios, Reader, but, sometimes, “the only way out sis through.” This means that, whatever your situation is, you just keep pushing until you’ve come to a solution.

For writers, this means that sometimes you should write blindly or engage in a free write for ten or more minutes. Jotting down whatever comes to your mind – even if it is off topic or utterly ridiculous – can help you to overcome your block and see a new direction. In my undergraduate coursework, one of my professors began every class with a two to five-minute period allotted to free writing. We were not given a topic to write about – just whatever was on our minds or piqued our interest in that moment. Afterwards, we tore up our papers or deleted our word documents and never spoke of what we wrote. This helped us get in the zone for other work. Reader, if you are free writing with a purpose, you may want to keep your work in case you want to pull ideas from or edit it. Sometimes, the best work comes from one lone idea you were able to build upon.

Additionally, when continuously writing on multiple occasions, you don’t even realize that you become a better writer while doing so. Keep in mind – the more you write, the better a writer you will become.

Share Your Thoughts!

So, here you have it! Three very different methods for brainstorming. Did one stand out over another? Did you discover you use one of these methods, or did you add a new method to your arsenal for brainstorming? Do you have any ideas for brainstorming you’d like to suggest to me? I’m always on the hunt for new ways to grow as a writer.

Some other sources for brainstorming importance and techniques can be found below:

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2 thoughts on “Stop What You’re Doing. Here Are 3 Different Brainstorming Methods

  1. Very helpful tips. I particularly like the SWOT type of brainstorming, as well as blind writing. I have not used the Associative method but will give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

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