Here is something to try: Brain writing

“Brain-writing” is not my term. But we’re going to make it our own by revising it a little to make it more productive…

You brainstorm to get ideas when you have none. Ideally, you do so in a group. So you can feed off each other. So you can legitimize sitting around drinking coffee. So you can get others to do all the hard thinking for you.

Brain-writing is a way to kick ideas around… jumpstart your engine… and get into that “zone” of creativity that you hope to get into in a group session.

In fiction circles, there’s something similar called “free-writing.” USUALLY, it simply means setting a timer, putting pen to page, and letting the ideas pour. Whatever it is, you write it down. You don’t stop until your pen runs out of ink or your elbow balloons like a grapefruit.

But there are two problems with free-writing :

•         First, pens come with a lot of ink these days. Even the dime-store ballpoints could keep you scribbling well past deadline.

•         Second, sometimes it’s the very prospect of a blank page… the sight of a blinking cursor… and the notion of all that cerebral “freedom”… that’s got you stymied in the first place.

There is a more efficient way to get started.

If you were about to make bricks, would you begin without clay? If you were getting ready to make glass, would you begin without sand? If you wanted to make punch, would you leave out the hooch?

Of course not. So why is it that all writers so often try to start conjuring up ideas out of thin air?

For all the reasons to get “blocked,” this is the easiest to resolve.

Before you begin your solo brainstorming session (or a group session, for that matter), get yourself a hefty pile of “stuff” you’ve collected over the years… ideas, photos, anything you have saved because you liked something about it. . Aim for height. An inch is too low. A foot is too high. Somewhere in the middle ought to do it.

Next to this, put a fresh stack of index cards… a legal pad… and/or a computer.

This is where the “brain-writing” comes in. Start reading. Start taking notes.

The process remains “free” in the sense that you shouldn’t try to organize ideas at this point. Record them as they come. You’ll sort later.

The beauty of this simple approach is that you don’t need a soul around to help you make it pay off. In fact, isolation makes it easier.

When you become stuck or “dried up”….  stop and get up. Put on your coat. Go shoot some hoops, take a walk, knit an afghan.

While you take that break, your subconscious mind will be mulling over everything you’ve come across. Absorbing. Sorting. Editing.

The next morning, put the pile of stuff in a box and get it out of your sight. Everything happens now with your notes. Re-read them all. Twice.

Take the points that stand out and re-write them on a fresh page. Some will stand out. Others will strike you as complete garbage. Distill and polish. Narrow. If you need to accelerate the process, mail or e-mail your notes to a trusted (and patient) friend to read.

If you try this technique and you’re STILL stuck for ideas, you might consider buying yourself a pushbroom. Or running for public office.

You can use brain writing for writing a story, starting a new project that hasn’t been determined, the next “thing” you’d like to do, vacation to go on, etc.

Have fun with this… it is intended for you to get in touch with YOU, your “inner” ideas, your creative “jolts”, etc. ….  For me… my coffee cup is empty… need something in it so I am off….

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