Brainstorming is a creative problem-solving activity that can be performed in groups or alone. It’s not just for battling writer’s block – in fact, according to Wiki, brainstorming was invented by an advertising executive way back in 1939 as a method to break open creativity among his employees. (I find that I automatically engage in brainstorming activities with my colleagues to solve problems at work, and since libraries need to be constantly improving and changing, it’s a great skill to bring to any employer)
Since its inception, many variations of brainstorming have developed, and it’s certainly best to use the ones that work for you, but there are five key points to keep in mind:
- Defer judgement – when brainstorming, there’s no bad idea and it’s important to suspend the urge to dismiss anything at the early stages.
- Aim for quantity – the more ideas you come up with, the better the likelihood that you’ll generate something that works
- Go wild – the wilder the idea, the better. I’ve found that when I’m brainstorming, I’ve got to travel pretty far out in the realm of improbability to unsnag something that might eventually be developed into a probable solution.
- Two heads are better than one – Despite how wild your imagination might be, it’s still just shaped by your paradigm, so you can improve on your ideas if you share them with someone else who is willing to bring their experience into the mix.
- Let it simmer – After a brainstorming session, I always set my ideas aside, at least overnight, so I can gain some distance from them. Things always seem a bit clearer, a bit fresher, after a rest, and when I return to my list, inevitably the best ideas start to rise to the top. Connections between what seemed like random ideas start to form, and I experience renewed energy about the project.
For me, those are the basics, but there is a wealth of information available for specific techniques to approach brainstorming to help you get started.
During April, I’m participating in The A to Z Blogging Challenging, blogging 26 days of the month on topics that systematically move through the alphabet. The goal is to develop a more regular blogging habit and network with other bloggers. Join us!