Brainstorming or brainwriting – Fancy words for tools you can use in your everyday creative life.
Hello Creative QB’s,
How do you come up with ideas? With fancy creative life tools and techniques that you can keep in your handbag.
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A friend of mine, Fiona, sent me a Q&A, asking the question: How do you come up with new ideas? My quick answer? The same way you come up with ideas for anything you want to ‘explore’ in your creative life (or business).
So, how do you come up with ideas? Are you a list builder, post it noter, do you write it on the back of an envelope, are you note-book keeper, colour coded spread sheeter or say it out loud idea maker?
Anyone one of those are great and they work, but let’s also remember that ideas are fluid. Sometimes you can be on-fire in a flurry of ideas and other days you are stuck like a stump in mud. It’s rare to come up with consistently clever and creative ideas all the time, especially ones that spark passion and inspiration. (Unless you are a unicorn and have this nailed, if that’s you share with us, tell us how you do it).
For the rest of us, let’s give ourselves a break and instead consider using some easy tools and techniques to help in our everyday creative life.
The real secret to coming up with consistently great, highly creative, breakthrough ideas that really solve problems or address issues in your life are with tools called brainstorming and brainwriting.
Ok, before you say, “Oh I know what brainstorming is and I hate it“, hang in with me for a moment. I’m not a massive fan of brainstorming either. However, have you ever considered brainstorming as a tool in your personal growth and wellbeing or creative development? I am a big fan that. Coupled with brainwriting, brainstorming can be a powerful transformational tool.
What is brainstorming and brainwriting and what is the difference?
Brainstorming in its traditional sense is used mostly in a business, marketing or training setting. Have you ever sat through an excruciating brainstorming team session, ‘think-tank’ or huddle and thought, “OMG kill me now, when will this be over”. We have all been there!
The biggest issue with brainstorming is this:
- In an effort to get lots of awesome ideas rolling you require a very specific and clarified question. Anything else is just time-wasting. This is the only way you generate loads of quality ideas or solutions in a brainstorming session. You also need some ‘skin in the game’. If you are not invested in the question, it ain’t no way you will be invested in a solution.
- It’s usually in a group setting, where the loudest voices dominate, drowning out the quieter voices.
- Usually there is plenty of judgement carried in the group.
- Rarely is there follow through – it’s just ideas with no action.
- It’s reliant on the group. Good, bad and otherwise.
The real art of brainstorming, especially in your creative life is about clarity. With clarity you are far more open, flexible and less judgemental, rewarding you with heaps of great ideas and insights. The way to then use these insights or ideas is by brainwriting.
Brainwriting is simply writing down all your ideas, like a brain dump. Here is why it works:
- The act of pen to paper engages your brain while boosting your ability to discriminate, comprehend and retain information. It’s scientifically proven. Handwriting ignites your brains processing, it makes better connections, this is great for building and connecting ideas. It also helps us learn.
- Brainwriting can be done alone, where only your voice internal voice dominates.
- When it’s only your internal voice, it means you more aware of the background noise in your head. (the voices that tell you are not talented or creative or this idea is hopeless and never going to work) in turn this brings more awareness to the process.
- Once it’s down on paper, it’s much easier to see patterns, repetition and doubles ups, these can be used as tools of discernment, clearing a way for you to see what is really going on or what is most important to you.
- It’s easier to take action from what is written – like exploring an idea further or coming up with a plan to take the idea further.
How to use brainstorming and brainwriting together, in your creative life?
Let me give you an example:
In my everyday creative life, I get lots of ideas on the go, like when I’m walking the dog, driving, in the shower, when I wake in the morning, all the usual random ways ideas come. Usually it’s ideas for new artworks, ideas about blog posts or creative projects, things I love doing around the house, (but my husband hates) like painting the walls a different colour, furniture make-overs or dreams I have about the garden, even general things that are important to me. I call these ‘on-the-go brainstorms’.
The problem is, on-the-go brainstorms float around, clogging up my thoughts. Then when I actually need an idea I can’t recall all the previously clever ideas I had, they are missing in action. Relatable?
On-the-go brainstorms are wonderful, and essential building blocks for creativity, but often they ignite at very inconvenient times. But that is Ok, because after an on-the-go brainstorm, the next time you get a moment to brainwrite, most, all or more of your ideas will come back to you, surfacing in the process of writing. Trust yourself on this. The key is to start the brainwriting process as soon as you can. (This is why I carry creativity in my handbag, I always have a notebook and pen at the ready for brainwriting).
How to brainwrite:
- As soon as you can after an on-the-go brainstorm, grab your notebook and draw a table with 3 columns and 3 rows. ( a grid of nine squares)
- In the first square, write down your idea, problem, issue or creative question that comes to you first.
- Then in the next square, write down the next idea that is right in behind the first one, just let what is in your brain get onto the paper.
- Keep going until all 9 grids are complete. If you need more squares make some more, try not to go more than 12.
- Fill all the squares. You will notice some of your ideas look same, but written a different way, some maybe absolute double ups, others build upon the previous idea and others are completely different, there is no wrong way to brainwrite.
- When you are done, use your discernment to clarify what you really want or what is most important to you. To do this, go back over each one and tick the ones that resonate with you the most. The goal is to get your idea into ONE clear, succinct statement. Like…My idea is to
- Once you have your statement, write it at the bottom of your paper. This is now your ‘idea statement’ and it might be enough make a plan from or give you motivation explore it further. It might even be a big aha moment. Whatever your idea, it’s out of your head and onto paper with the potential to be a goal.
With your ideas on paper, it provides a framework for possibility – any number of possibilities can strengthen your original idea, benefiting you with transformational growth.
I’d love if you could share if you tried this, how you feel about this idea. Let me blog comments below.
Happy brainstorming and brainwriting, please let me know how you go with it and share with me the everyday ways you are living your creative life.
And if you have a question or would like me to explore something you are curious about, or you are feeling blocked in your creativity, email me HERE and I will answer you.
A happy, healthy, creative day to you.