When I brainstorm, I start with writing a prayer, asking for the ideas to just flow. I write my prayer for maybe 15 minutes, and then I brainstorm for no more than an hour. I actually set a timer for that hour
I either use sticky notes and posterboard, or Scapple (available at literatureandlatte.com), which is like using sticky notes electronically, and it is free for 30 uses if you want to check it out.
I write down everything I can think of—one idea per note.
If you use Scapple, click on View Inspector, and click on a color of note and drag it over to the canvas, and you will see what I mean about electronic sticky notes.
I don’t arrange the notes in order, I just stick them on the posterboard or drag them onto the electronic canvas. I don’t try to place order while I brainstorm. Brainstorming is a creative activity, and as such, it uses the right side of your brain. Adding structure and order is analytical, and those activities use the left side of your brain.
If you try to place everything in order as you brainstorm, you will stifle your creative juices.
If you are reading this blog and want to write, you likely already have ideas brewing. So, writing down all your ideas may be enough. In fact, it may be more than enough. My one brainstorm is now turned into a series of three books.
I use one color of sticky notes for any stories.
I use another color for lessons I learned.
If you are writing about your life, start listing facts or ideas about your most compelling God story. Now what are the next five or 10 compelling, related God stories. Was there something that was similar to the bigger story?
Also, here are some other great prompts to identify compelling stories:
Have you experienced miracles?
Escaped from danger?
What ongoing challenges have you overcome?
Now for lessons:
What lessons would you tell your younger self?
What do you wish you would have known sooner?
After I get the big stories and lessons identified, I use a shade of the main color for sub points. So, I might use a turquoise blue for the main point, and a teal blue for the sub points. The sub points are when I put in other people involved, and perhaps scene details I think are important. In journalism, the subpoints are the who, what, where, why, when, and how. Probably some of these ideas are in your main point, but if not, put those details on the subpoints sticky notes.
These questions might be more than enough for your brainstorm. If it is, stop there. If not, read on to part II of “Receiving His Rain in Brainstorming” for more ideas.
If you are like many first-time faith-based authors I work with, you may need help brainstorming or evaluating your brainstorming. If that’s you, check out my upcoming group classes or request writing coaching by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.