Brainstorming is a form of free association that is followed by evaluation after all ideas are out on the table. In a group the intent is for one person’s ideas to fuel another, sometimes wilder idea, to take the group outside its normal way of thinking, to come up with projects that are more creative than usual and often more successful as well.
Writers can brainstorm too. The technique I introduce here is one that any writer can do on their own, on paper, that follows the same two-step process as group brainstorming. For blog content writers a technique like this can be invaluable. In fact, it works with any kind of writing that requires creative roots, freeing the writer’s psyche to pour out a cohesive and deep train of thought. Also called mind mapping, this octopus-looking process works like this:
- Start with a keyword or keyword phrase. Write it down in the middle of a blank sheet of paper and circle it. What does it make you think of? Draw a short line from the original keyword and write and circle the new word next to it. What does that make you think of? Draw a line, write and circle that word. Keep going until you run out.
- Go back to the original keyword. What else does it make you think of? Write and circle the new word. Take off from that word now, writing and circling new words related to the one before it until you run out of them.
- Then go back to the original keyword and do the same thing with another leg of inspiration. At five or six legs you’re going to start feeling a sort of cohesion between all the words you’ve been writing down – like you’ve come full circle and don’t need anything more.
Now it’s time to write the article or blog. The minute you start imagining writing, you’ll notice that each leg of your brainstorm has provided you with a new subtopic or paragraph. The blog has shaped itself. The center keyword gives you your introductory paragraph, each of the arms gives you subsequent paragraphs (or sections), and the cohesion itself gives you your conclusion.
I’ve been using this technique long enough that I can almost always do it in my head now. I see a keyword phrase. I ask myself what’s related and I see flashes of ideas. I write my opening paragraph, introducing the ideas briefly. I choose my first related word, and instead of writing an arm of the octopus my fingers fly as they write the idea out fully in a paragraph. Then I take my mind back to the main topic (keyword), look for the next related topic, and write it out fully too. In no time my blog is written – very personal and creative and fully fleshed out. Try it for yourself. It’s a fun and very effective to write.
Susette H has been writing for fun and some profit for nearly twenty years. She has written a wide variety of article types, both business and personal, and often starts a new type with mind mapping.