Mar 20, 2013

How to Cook up a Creative Brainstorm

All creatives have differing and interesting ways in how they stimulate their creative juices to be able to come up with their ideas—including those that are weird, wacky and wild. 

The way I come up with an idea for a project or a campaign is a strange yet somewhat simple process.

State of Calm

When I am pondering an idea or brainstorming a strategy, I first try to clear my mind of all other thoughts. Distractions need to be minimized as best they can be

I recommend a sip of water or another cool beverage to symbolize this cleansing process.

Ideation Process

Once the mind is clear and focused, I can begin the ideation process—usually by starting a word tree or a list of related words on a blank sheet of paper or a white board. I'll jot down a few words that relate to the subject. 

Maybe I'll place some related words branching off in a different tangent on another side of the page or board. 

After a solid twenty or thirty minutes, I may have the entire page covered in words, phrases and idioms relating to the topic/s at hand. 

A second sip of water or cool beverage is usually taken at this time to keep the engine cool.

Idea Invention & Collection

At around this stage in the process, it is almost as if an imaginary, clear, upward-facing bowl begins to extend out from the back of my head. 

Above this virtual bowl is an imaginary, wide net that is coated with creative juices or slippery ooze. 

By looking up with my eyes to the left and right (which promotes left-brain right-brain cross communication), I begin to figuratively see ideas floating in the ether just above me. 

One by one, I am able to gently pluck these ideas right out of this ether (being careful not to harm or damage them) and toss them in to the lubricated netting affixed to the rear of my head.

Creative Gestation 

These ideas, once caught, then begin to slide down into the bowl and swirl around. 

Occasionally, when the gravity of reality begins to take hold, one or more of these ideas may connect or meld together, or conversely separate and branch off into separate ideas. 

Once these ideas migrate to the bottom of this imaginary bowl, they are promptly sucked inside my head. 

My brain then soaks these ideas up like a dry sponge. 

Overcoming Writer’s Block 

On the rare occasion, two or more ideas fall through at the same time and get stuck together in the point of entry. This can cause a period of writer’s block

This part of the process makes the body fairly thirsty and a further sip of cool fluid is taken.

This blockage can be temporary or it can last for hours, days or even weeks. I
f you find yourself stuck in a writer’s block, I suggest the following tactics for a release: 
  • Take a break and come back to it at another time;
  • Try approaching the problem from a different angle or viewpoint;
  • Free writing can help to unleash subconscious thought;
  • Limit any possible perfectionist tendencies where you may possess a desire for everything to be right before putting pen to paper;
  • There may be an underlying fear of putting your ideas out there for the greater world to see and critique;
  • Go for a walk or a jog and get the blood pumping through your veins;
  • Distract your mind with some play or a creative art project;
  • Listen to music. You’ll probably find what type of genre achieves the best results for you.
  • Brew a cup of coffee or some other kind of stimulant to give you that required jolt.

Achieving Output

Once I get over any possible hurdles of writer’s block, the creative ideas in the mind are bubbling over. The best ideas bubble up towards the frontal lobes where they can be accessed and assessed. 

One by one, the best of these ideas ooze out of my brain and run fluidly through the body. They are pumped through the heart, infusing them with an emotion or two, before making their way down the inside of my right arm. 

Following along this pathway, the ideas find their way out of the pen I am holding and on to the page (or through the fingertips onto a keyboard). 

The key here is to keep the pen moving and not to let it dry. These precious ideas cannot be allowed to run out. Ideas also need to come out at a steady pace and not flood the page too quickly. 

Care needs to be taken not to self-censor, and to realize that there is no such thing as a bad idea in a brainstorm

It also may take five, ten or fifteen "crappy" ideas (or lines) before I strike on to something worth looking at again. 

When I feel like I am in a rhythm, I'll continue to sip a drink to keep the engine running.

Throughout this process, the levels of confidence and self-esteem vary depending on how far in I am, and how many ideas I have (as well as how many might be worth a second look).

Combining Forces With A Partner

This process is usually repeated again with a creative partner or team, where we share our ideas and toss them up in the air while seated around a table. 

When this happens, it’s as if our imaginary head bowls and nets are now intertwined. During this group mind meld, the best ideas fall into this collective netting and make their way to the bottom of the bowl. 

They blend together and plop down in a splattered mess onto the workspace. After a flash of light, there is usually a faint, light fluffy cloud just bursting with potential. 

It is up to the team to work and develop this new creation into a fully-formed, molded and sculpted concept. 

And it is from this concept, when nurtured (and given a little water) that a campaign family of executions or a fully-formed story can be bred.

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