Monday, September 28, 2015

Open the Door to New Ideas

Do you ever get stuck for ideas? Or find yourself in a place where you aren't sure how to proceed?

What helps you get un-stuck?

I think many writers, whether newbies, veterans, or somewhere in between, face this closed door on occasion. Solution advice includes taking a walk or buckling down and pressing through.

There are other simple fixes that help us renew and refocus, like going to a movie, working on another project, or brainstorming. 

Speaking of such, the following brainstorming methods have helped me work out the wrinkles. Maybe they'll help you too.

Freewriting - Set a time limit (five or ten minutes) and write down anything that comes to mind. It matters not what, just write. When the time expires, review the results. Some content won’t be useful, but there might be a nugget or two that stands out.

Clustering (or Mapping) – Choose a word or two from your topic, write it down in the middle of a blank piece of paper, and circle it. Write related words around the main word/s, circle them, and draw a line from each to the main word/s. A visual like this can reveal patterns or fresh leads.

The Five W’s – Ask the questions used when writing a news article - Who, What, Where, When, and Why (don't forget How, too). List these words, then answer each one using related ideas about the theme.  Answers don't have to be extensive, any thoughts can be useful. This is my favorite method. :)

The Flip Side – Consider the subject from a different angle. This is especially helpful for emotional or controversial issues. Place yourself in the other person's shoes and see what happens.


The Top Five List – Make a list of the top five things you or others might like to know about the subject. A list of any size can help sort and clarify ideas. 


Brainstorming methods can offer alternative thoughts or perspectives thus sharpening and polishing our work. Go ahead, give one a try. You never know what fresh ideas might pop out when you swing that door wide open!


I've a guest post about real life and writing at Helping Hands Press blog. If you have a moment, stop over and say hello. :) Thanks so much!

What helps you brainstorm? What are you working on this week?

Happy writing,

Karen



Photo credit: Free Images


24 comments :

  1. Those are great tips I never thought of. Thanks.

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  2. The Five W's are always helpful. Doing any of those exercises with someone else gives you double the opportunities, too.

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  3. Natalie,
    Thanks so much! Glad you like them. Maybe they will lend a hand for you someday. :)

    Diane,
    Now there's a great point, doing them with someone else. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  4. Hi Karen - I'm lucky .. I don't seem to have those problems - but I'm only writing blog posts. My problem is getting all my ideas out there ... the list will help many - cheers Hilary

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  5. I've never thought about a couple of those. Thanks!

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  6. Great tips from the most fabulous amigo in the WORLD! I will pop in. <3 you.

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  7. Hilary,
    Your blog is a wonderful collection of amazing thoughts and observations! Glad to hear you don't get stuck. :) Maybe you should teach us your methods in a class. :)

    Alex,
    Happy to share the info! Maybe one or two will be of some help. :)

    Robyn,
    Ah well, I think you are the most famous one! :) Thanks for checking it out! xo

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  8. Thanks for the suggestions. I think we all get stuck often. I try to get my husband who knows my general plot to brainstorm with me in a pinch. It helps!

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  9. Great suggestions, Karen. I'm such a procrastinator, the only thing that usually works for me is to just---as you said in the beginning of your post---buckle down and do it. A friend of mine takes a shower or bath when she gets stuck---she says all her best ideas come to her when she's in water. lol

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  10. Creative writing prompts always help, I like 'm. This is one of the reasons I sometimes joins sixwordstory challenges and poetry writing and other things I am not so good at. It streches me :)

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  11. When I'm stuck, I often doodle. I used to do that in college when I needed to focus on a lecture, and now I find it helps me focus on a story that won't move in a direction I want.

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  12. Terri,
    What a blessing that you have such a handy brainstorming partner! :) It really can help, can't it?

    Lisa,
    Thank you! I am often like that too - just having to press through. I like your friend's method! lol :)

    Marja,
    Those six word stories offer a wonderful opportunity to stretch. I think you are right, we can often benefit from that! :)

    Lee,
    That's a good idea! I think there are many things that help us sort things out, you know? :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  13. Hi Karen. Good ideas. Thanks.
    Don't know if you've seen these questions but thought you'd be interested, if you had not. http://beautylove7694.blogspot.com/2015/09/meet-blogger-1.html

    Knowing I have a deadline helps me brainstorm.

    This week I just finished a feature story on a new exhibit at a local museum and a personal profile, both for a weekly newspaper. Still have to do birthday thank you cards, too. (Do they count? hee hee) Take care, Karen. Susan

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  14. Excellent list, Karen! Brainstorming helps me most, and praying. Jesus' brain is unlimited...

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  15. Great tips, Karen--I often turn to clustering for a jump-start. Also, I like to do word associations. I'll start with a word and go from one to another down columns on a page. By the end of 3-5 columns something usually jumps out in a way I hadn't thought of. If nothing else, it's a great writing prompt!

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  16. Susan,
    Sounds like you are super busy! I agree, a deadline can motivate a brainstorming session. :) Thanks for the link.

    Jen,
    Thanks so much! :) Praying helps me too, and you are so right!

    Kenda,
    Thank you. :) Word associations are a great tool, and as you said, a writing prompt. Thanks for sharing that!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  17. Exercising. That's what helps me brainstorm. Crazy, right? Also, my 14 yr old son is the BEST sounding board ever. A five minute conversation will solve any plot issue.

    Great thoughts on jumping over creative blocks!

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  18. Hi Karen! Much like Crystal, exercise really releases my thought waves. I tried the thought maps a couple of times. I enjoyed doing it, but when I looked back at it, I had no idea what I was thinking at the time! LOL! Does that ever happen to you?

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  19. Excellent tips, Karen! I love using all of these. :)

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  20. Crystal,
    I don't think it's crazy - I think of stuff then too! :) Gotta go with the creative flow when you can, right? Glad you have an in house sounding board. That's a big help!

    Ceil,
    Perhaps it's the burning calories thing that generates ideas? You never know! LOL Well, we need to go with it and take those ideas when we can. :) Yes, I do look back at notes like that and wonder where I was going with it.

    Tyrean,
    Thanks so much! :) There are so many great tools to use. Very thankful for that. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  21. I become a real writing slug in the summer. But - Fall is upon us and as soon as company leaves I'll be back in the saddle again. Thanks for the mind jogging!

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  22. Thanks for reminding us of these methods. We all need a refresher course now and then. They're great tools for bloggers. :)

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  23. Wonderful list. I brainstorm, give myself time, and play around with my outline. I'd like to try these.

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  24. Susan S.,
    A writing slug - yes, I have been known to be one too! LOL :) Cheering you on in getting back into the swing!

    Susan R.,
    You are welcome. I agree, I need a refresher of many things often! :) We can use these for any type of writing.

    Medeia,
    Thank you so much! There are so many good methods, aren't there? :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!