The part of the creative process many of us are guilty of rushing through? The brainstorming process. It’s difficult to slow down when you are inspired but crucial that you do so!
Here’s the story.
I know how it is – you have a moment of inspiration and you are so excited to start something new, so you immediately dive in. We are all guilty of this, but brainstorming is a crucial part of the creative process and it shouldn’t be rushed.
Common Problem #1 With the Brainstorming Process
Waiting to do something (starting a new painting, write, etc.) until you have an idea.
I’d love to work on my next project but I don’t have an idea so I’m just going to wait to start until I have an idea.
I don’t want to say that you are never going to have a flash of inspiration out of nowhere, but it’s not as likely to happen as it would if you put in the work. You want to set yourself up with the opportunity to have your next great idea.
So instead of telling yourself that you will start writing once you have an idea for your next story, just start writing. It can be complete garbage – that’s fine. As you write and put in the practice, you are more likely to figure out what it is you want to write about (this is true of any creative practice).
This might not be a “traditional” way to go about the brainstorming process but it is going to work in the same way that you are setting yourself up to come up with your next idea.
Common Problem #2 With the Brainstorming Process
As soon as you have an idea – your first idea – you go all in with it. You tell yourself this is my next great idea and you go out and buy everything, you sign up for everything, you just get so pumped up. Then, a couple of days later you realize, this isn’t quite for me. Or, maybe it’s not as great of an idea as I thought. Or, I’m just not as excited about it as I thought I would be.
Then, you don’t do anything. Then, next time you have your “big idea” the same thing happens, you get stuck in a cycle of this and never really figure out what you want to do, what you want to create, what you want to make, or what you want to design. You go all in or nothing.
Improve Your Brainstorming Process
Number 1 – Practice coming up with ideas. Make a habit of coming up with a certain amount of ideas everyday. Force yourself to come up with ideas. I know what you are thinking, when I force myself to come up with ideas, I’m never going to come up with good ideas that way and yes, that is true most of the time. But, you are putting in the practice so that eventually you have will have a great idea. It’s not going to come instantaneously and super easy, it’s going to take work like everything else. So basically you are creating a habit of coming up with ideas.
As you make a habit of brainstorming ideas, determine where you are going to collect those ideas. Will it be digitally (phone or computer)? Or will it be analog (journal, back of napkin)?
After you have ideas down, how do you organize them? Go back through ideas from time to time. Even if an idea wasn’t right for you when you had it, it might be right for you later or the idea will inspire a different idea. You can also look to see if you have had the same idea more than once – if so, it means something, take note.
Number 2 – So let’s say you put into practice the habit of coming up with ideas everyday. So after one day’s brainstorm you look at your ideas and think: okay, 3 of these are terrible, one is decent, and one could be good. Instead of just being like, okay that’s it, that’s my idea – let’s dive in – try sitting on that idea for awhile. Not a year or anything like that. But, maybe for a couple of days, or even a week. Remember, you first idea is not always going to be your best idea.
If you keep coming back around to that idea, then go for it. Start to explore it more. But, if in two or three days you have already moved on, you know you have done the right thing. So, basically, this is to extend the brainstorming process beyond just one sitting or one day. You are going to vet your ideas to ensure they are really good ideas.
By being patient with your ideas, you will find that you will come up with even better ones.