The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Brainstorming ideas

The best way to come up with a good idea is to come up with a LOT of ideas.  The trick is that most of those ideas will be bad.  And, in fact, it is IMPORTANT that you give yourself permission to generate bad ideas.  This is related to the question of "writer's block," which, as I've said, is a confusion of two different states, the "flow" state and the "editing" state where you are judging the quality of what you have done. 
A good exercise for this is to come up with a hundred ideas for stories in thirty minutes--with permission for 95% of them to suck rocks.  Just set your timer and go.  You've got like eighteen seconds to write down each idea, so you'll have to just GO.  Don't worry about spelling or grammar, or quality.  Just write them down as fast as you can. 
The beautiful thing about this exercise is that, in all likelihood, there is no problem in your life that could survive a single day of focused brainstorming.  I can bet that few of you have ever taken an entire day and addressed a particular problem, writing down every aspect of it you can think of, and then every possible answer, every resoruce, every ally, every alternative interpretation.   I'm talking at least eight solid hours of focus on one problem.  It is ASTOUNDING what can be accomplished if  you will take this time.  Try it!
Remember--the "Lifewriting" approach is to see yourself as a hero in the story of your own life.  Learning to brainstorm in the arena of writing can lead to brainstorming in life itself--and problem-solving on an entirely new level.

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