Organization in Writing – Brainstorming

Organization In Writing - Brainstorming R.S. Mollison-Read

When I first conceived of writing a blog series about organization in writing almost three years ago, it initially seemed a little silly. Because I have so many different projects on the go at once, (plus a day job!), it didn’t seem as though there was any organization involved in my writing process at all! But over the past few years, I have come to realize that not only do I have a system (and a pretty good one at that!), I have spent the last three years honing that system to make it even better!

The first step in my writing process is brainstorming, which I’ve discussed in more detail in this post. Here are several ways in which I organize my brainstorming:

I structure my time
Many people don’t even consider this to be a part of brainstorming, and that, in my opinion, is a fatal error. Brainstorming, or daydreaming is best accomplished when you don’t feel the pull of time. But this means that you need to carve time out of your busy schedule so that you can have that freedom to free associate. I like to schedule in at least 15 minutes each day, and a good hour on the weekends.
Of course, if I find myself with a few minutes of downtime, I take full advantage of them, but I plan brainstorming sessions into my schedule. At first I found it difficult to release myself from the flurry of thoughts I usually have running around in my head. But practice makes perfect, or something close to it, and the more I’ve made time to brainstorm, the better I’ve become at using that time!

I write everything down
When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Every passing thought, every funny phrase that comes to mind, I write it down and store it away. By the end of the week I have an assortment of little pieces of paper with ideas scribbled on them, and the ‘Notes’ section on my phone is filled with dozens of half formed ideas. I also have an idea journal, in which I write down anything that comes to mind. And then…

I review my ideas
This is the best part of my process because this truly is organization in action. Once a week, I take all of those little ideas, those nuggets of storytelling goodness, and I sort and file them. I have several documents on my computer, and I take each idea, and consider which story, or document it fits into best. I also have a document that contains random ideas that don’t seem to have a place – yet! Many of my ideas fit very well into stories I’m currently working on, or upcoming projects that I’m just starting to fill in. Some of my ideas are even brand new projects!

While brainstorming is usually how I initiate a new project, I have so many ideas and so many projects in different stages of development, that brainstorming has now become an ongoing process. This means that I have to be even more vigilant in ensuring that I stay organized.

What techniques do you use to organize your brainstorming? Tell me in the comments below!

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