15 Brainstorming...

15 Exercises to Help Reignite the Imagination

Don’t you hate getting stuck? You’re minding your own business, writing your story, and having a grand ol’ time when BAM. You’ve hit a plot problem and have no idea how to solve it. Or perhaps you are brainstorming, outlining, or working on worldbuilding when your brain suddenly decides to stop giving you ideas. You can’t figure out where a character should go next. You don’t know how to make the story world unique. The plot isn’t working.  

It’s frustrating to halt in the middle of a good story or brainstorming session, so I’ve made a list of 15 exercises to help you break through that block and bring your imagination back to life.

*drumroll* And the first strategy is…

1. Talk to your characters out loud.

Sometimes a friendly interview is all it takes to discover a character’s motives or voice. But be warned. A character’s replies can be surprising, so I’d grab a pen and pad of paper to document interesting findings before beginning the interview.

2. Talk through story problems with a brainstorming buddy.

Stuck on a plot point? Not sure a character’s reasoning makes sense? Talking to a friend can push your brain toward a solution.

3. Text a friend about your story.

If your favorite writer fellows are too far away to brainstorm in person, sending an explanation of your dilemma and asking for their perspective can be just as good as a real-life discussion.

4. Write out the problem like you’re trying to explain it to a friend.

If you decide texting a person about your story issues takes too much effort, try writing down what you’re stuck about anyway. Scribbling out your problems in chronological order can clarify the issues and direct your mind toward answers. All it takes is a notebook, a pen, and a little bit of patience.

5. Read through your old notes.

Writers compile tons of notes they don’t use. Skimming through old thoughts can help you rediscover ideas that can apply to your current story.

6. Gather images on Pinterest.

Epic images can work wonders on the unstimulated mind. I may or may not have inspiration boards on my Pinterest account if anyone wants to take a peek #shamelessplug. 😉

7. Try out a writing prompt.

I’m a bit biased, but story starters are cool. Who knows what epic story is waiting inside a simple prompt?

8. Write flash fiction.

Throwing a short story together with 2 percent of a plan is both terrifying and freeing. Slapping down a quick story based on an image or writing prompt can refresh the mind and rekindle the thrill of writing.

9. Listen to epic music.

Music makes life legendary. Talking to characters or imagining a scene is more enjoyable with a grand soundtrack in the background and can sometimes lead to a feeling or scene you want to write about.

10. Read a book, watch a movie, or listen to an audiobook.

A scene, prop, or character in a published work can serve as inspiration, too. Besides, a good story can put some distance between you and your writing.  

11. Take a break from the problem or idea.

Write something else. Work on another fun story. Or just tell your brain you don’t have to write every second of the day and chillax. Sometimes a problem isn’t meant to be solved in a rush. 

12. Freewrite with lineless paper.

Lineless paper = freedom. You can be as messy as you want. Or even be a rebel and write sideways (like yours truly).

13. Freewrite/brainstorm on a computer.

Sometimes the ideas come too fast for your pen and paper to keep up. Neat, computerized letters can be more practical than trying to read the quick scrawls inside your writing journal.

14. Try active brainstorming.

Tearing myself away from the computer and swinging a sword around helps me plot scenes or work past a troublesome plot problem. Maybe you like cleaning, karate, or flag dancing. Whatever it is, consider using a non-writing related activity to help you come up with ideas.

15. Brainstorm with a mind map.

I adore mind maps. To create one, all you have to do is write down a topic (like villains), draw a bubble around it, and connect subtopic bubbles to it (like villains being love interests, Reylo, OTPs, couples you do/don’t like, etc.). In the end, your paper will look like a somewhat deformed, obese snowflake. I find that, once I’ve worked on brainstorming a topic with a mind map, I discover I know more about it than I first believed. 

Aaaaaand that’s about it, folks. What’s your favorite way to brainstorm? Have you tried any of the tactics I’ve mentioned?

Happy New Year!

The Introvert (a.k.a. Gabrielle)

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