Brainstorming is a method of idea generation.
Crucially it must start with “turning off” your inner editor, the part of person that might criticize an idea as too outlandish, too unreal, too childish, too anything, to be considered seriously. The inner editor is also called “The Critic.”
Nothing is ever good enough for the Critic. This may be the inner voice you hear that sounds like those in your life who have belittled your writing: a parent, a partner, a friend, or even that random person who left some scathing comment on a piece you wrote when you were 12. Whoever owns that nay voice in your head, brainstorming gives you permission — no, it insists — that you KICK THEM OUT.
“I want to write something” says your restless writer-brain. So, brainstorm. Heres’ one way I do that:
Step 1: kick that Editor-Critic to the curb.
Some methods that help me do this are sipping a cup of tea and going through the ritual of setting up my writing space. “I will be writing no matter what you say!” is the silent slam I do on my Editor-Critic.
Step 2: blank page.
You may actually find this easier with paper and pencil than computer, but there are “bubble-building” apps out there. I’ll use Google Slides or Google Draw if I really can’t get to paper.
Step 3: in the middle of the page write the first word that comes to mind.
Just ONE word.
Step 4: word association.
Write around that word other words you associate with that word. Spend 10 minutes. Write fast. Don’t cross out ANYTHING. If you’re slowing down, look at the words around a space where another word could fit and write down one word that connects them.
Step 6: group words by part of speech.
Once you reach here, you’re sticking your hands in the clay to form the bricks you’ll use to build your story. Adjectives could become the traits for one or more characters (antithesis words group into a natural antagonist). Verbs could become a set of actions that when ordered form the plot. Nouns might be places or things that appear in your story.
This is only one method I use, usually to start from scratch. I may blog later about another method that can be used in the middle of a project when you’re “stuck.”