There are several times when brainstorming is the only option you have. Even if you have a topic to write about, you often need to think about how to write about your topic.
Often, though, you are searching for an idea to write about. For this instance, you are sitting down with a blank computer screen or piece of paper. You need an idea. The blank page sits there and mocks you. Pick a word, any word. Then write it down.
Look at the word and think about it. Write down another word the first word makes you think about. Then repeat, using the new word. Once you’ve generated a list of, say, ten words, you will find something in there to write about.
Or you can sit down and spill your thoughts onto the screen or paper. Close your eyes and write whatever comes to mind. It won’t matter what the spelling is. Scribble or type whatever comes to mind. Something in there will be worth expanding on later.
Those are good ways to generate writing ideas. But what about those times when you know what you want to write about, but don’t have a clue where to start? That’s where mind maps and word lists shine.
Creating an outline can help you as well. Write a few sentences about the topic. Then put them in a coherent and logics order. Then you can expand on it.
Another way to develop an idea is to write down the topic. Then put sub topics underneath it. That’s a form of outlining. I can almost hear the seat-of-the-pants writers moaning. There is nothing set in stone in this method. Having those subtopics in a list under your topic can suggest the path your writing will take. If you are writing fiction, it can lead the plot. The thinking is, “for this to happen, this needs to happen first. When this happens this needs to follow,” and so on. It is loose and flexible enough to give you seat-of-the-pants writers the freedom you want. If it isn’t in the list, don’t worry about it. It’s done its job and triggered you to write.
That is, after all, the whole point of brainstorming. You are searching for ideas on what to write next. Sometimes when you get stuck in a writing project. Only brainstorming can point the way forward.
Brainstorming is a good tool for generating ideas. It’s also a very good way to figure out where to go from where you are in a story. These brainstorming tools are good for overcoming the little blocks. You know those little blocks which pop up during your writing process. Embrace them. Then get writing.