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Texas ISD School Guide
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Writing and Public Speaking

Brainstorming - Create That Million Dollar Idea
By:Erica Armstrong

There are many ways to stimulate your creative juices, and to get the ideas flowing. Most authors have their favourites which are usually tried and tested and work for them.

Maybe the best known is brainstorming. Brainstorming is a powerful technique which can create new ideas and solve problems. It can be done in a group, with a partner, or alone. When used in a group setting, it motivates and develops a team spirit. It often involves group members in bigger management issues and allows the team to work together. When used as part of a team, a flip-chart, allowing all participants to see what is happening, and what is being produced, is essential. On a one to one basis, or alone, it not required. But writing everything down is essential.

There are a few simple rules when brainstorming. Firstly, judgement and criticism are suspended during the session. Secondly, there are no right or wrong answers, there are no good or bad ideas. Reviewing the ideas generated comes later. Often the wilder, and stranger the idea, the better. Many times great ideas can come from what initially appears strange or irrelevant.

Another concept to bear in mind when brainstorming ideas for your writing, is that quantity and not quality is the most important thing at this stage. Combining ideas is another option, see where one idea leads, then combine it with another.

Key to brainstorming is writing ideas down. Dont just call out ideas, make someone responsible for collecting every single idea mentioned. It is easy to forget what is said, and no writer wants to lose a gem of inspiration for a new book or article. Also, sometimes actually seeing ideas written down, will spur you on to other ideas.

If you work alone, or are self-employed, you may wish to brainstorm alone. Maybe our colleagues do not like brainstorming sessions, or it is too time consuming to arrange a group session, or perhaps you work in a critical organisation, and get better inspiration from brainstorming with your partner. Often, brainstorming alone, or with a trusted partner, is more successful than in a group, but the essentials remain the same. There should be no criticism or judgement, and it is absolutely essential to write everything down. The time for reviewing suggestions will come later.

In using a structured approach to formulate new ideas, you will be at a huge advantage over others who do not think they can be creative alone. Actually, it is possible to be even more creative by yourself than in a group, especially if the group is badly organised.

Another tip for creating ideas is by Random Word Selection. A dictionary, newspaper or magazine can be used for the source. By selecting a word at random, you are almost guaranteed to come at a problem or idea from a different, and unusual angle.

It is important to stop yourself thinking that this is silly. Concrete results will soon change your mind.

To illustrate this technique, lets work through an example. Say the random word generated is globe. Article ideas springing from this could be travel related, perhaps on the modes of travel, or the health aspects of travel. Another random word could be balloon. Initial ideas could be the rubber balloons are made from or maybe the different types of gasses it is possible to fill balloons with. Or perhaps the uses of balloons, possibly for travel, advertising or leisure.

There are many brainstorming techniques which will provide you with an endless string of marketable and valuable ideas, and if you are lucky, perhaps the million dollar idea will be in amongst them.

Erica Armstrong

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