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High Tech Brain Storming Tools

Out of the Box ThinkingI wanted to share with you some of the high-tech tools I use when I have a brainstorming session. Since I am taking a new direction in my online writing, I find that brainstorming is something that I do almost on a daily basis. Once my path is set, I’ll brainstorm less often, but there’s nothing better than a good brainstorming session to get your creative juices flowing.

High Tech and Low Cost

I went to the local craft store and bought a 100-sheet pad of large paper. The paper is 18″ x 24″. When I brainstorm I go through lots of paper.

I also bought a couple of sets of multicolored markers. They’re really supposed to be used on the white board but I’ve long since abandoned the whiteboard when brainstorming because I can only fit so much on a whiteboard. When you brainstorm, your writing space must not be limited.

The Pace Factor

True brainstorming requires excessive pacing. I pace around quite a bit, talk to myself and allow the brain to flow. Because of the pacing, I find it useful to tape a sheet of large paper every wooden door in the house. I choose doors because I don’t want to ruin the paint or wallpaper when I pull the tape down.

The color pens scattered throughout the house (and I also keep a few in my pocket or behind my ear if I’m wearing sweats). You always want to be prepared to jot something down when the idea hits.Brainstorming Session

Once a sheet of paper is filled I take it down and put up another one. At the end of my brainstorming session I take all the sheets of paper and I lay them out. The next step is organizing them and then typing them up on a smaller more manageable piece of paper.

Get the Kids Involved

My kids are older and they’re used to me having brainstorming sessions. If you have young children and wish to get them involved, tape sheets of paper on the lower part of the doors for them (or you can assign designated doors).

Make sure to set the brainstorming boundaries. Walls, floors, doors or anything else that doesn’t have a sheet of brainstorming paper is off limits. As you buzz around jotting ideas, your child can buzz around the house and brainstorm too.

Having your children join in a brainstorming session helps them to think out-of-the-box and come up with ideas that they might not have come up with using the traditional sit down and think it out method.

Brain StormingI find brainstorming to be a time of high energy. It’s a time of a lot of pacing, talking, thinking, jotting, drawing and charting. I’ve come up with some of my best ideas during brainstorming sessions. These sessions should be fun.

Take Action

At the end of the brainstorming session, sort out the ideas determine which ideas make the most sense and then take action. Brainstorming is great, but what use are great ideas if there’s no action behind them. Capitalize on your brainstorming energy and put something in motion.

Wait a minute. Let me ask you this. When was the last time you had a talk to yourself, pace around the house, let the world think your crazy brain storming session?  If you haven’t had one in a while, don’t you think it’s time? That Panda will be back. Don’t you want to be prepared the next time it shows up?

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Deanna October 22, 2011, 1:26 pm

    Love your way of brainstorming. I used to write everything down because I thought if I didn’t, I’d lose the ideas. Over the years I’ve found that ideas don’t leave my head until I actually place them in motion – this happens with ideas for articles, ideas for books and all the things I want to do with my blogs. So now, instead of writing everything down in notes, I just go from what’s been rattling in my brain to implementing the idea – even if it’s months after I’ve thought of it. My mother used to say I had a one-track mind (it was hard to get me off a subject once it was stuck in my head!) but I think she was wrong – there are several tracks in my mind and they are all running in different directions at the same time. That must be why my mind won’t let go of an idea until it has been followed through with. 🙂

    • Felicia October 23, 2011, 9:28 am

      Deanna, that’s a great quality. I wish I could hold onto ideas until they’re implemented. If I don’t write my ideas down, I’m sunk.

    • Dianne October 24, 2011, 5:34 pm

      I actually realized the same thing. When I don’t write down my idea, I think about them over and over which improves my ideas. However once I write it down, I tend to forget.

      I like the idea of a bulletin board. I have ideas on top of more ideas in almost 10 different places…sigh.

      • Felicia October 24, 2011, 11:15 pm

        Dianne, I can relate with the ideas on top of ideas. I tried the bulletin board, but I quickly ran out of space so I got a second one. That didn’t work so I got a huge white board. That didn’t work because I kept running out of space.

        At the end of the day I used to type up the list of ideas that were on my white board just so I could erase it and start all over. Because ideas are somewhat interconnected, erasing the white board didn’t make sense so I now use large sheets of paper.

        When I’m on the jazz, I can blow through 10 or 15 pages worth of ideas in no time. I usually get jazzed early in the morning. I think that’s why my family loves to sleep late. I tend to be a little over the top when my brain is abuzz with ideas. They had a break over the summer but things are starting to percolate again. 🙂

        • Dianne October 25, 2011, 12:09 am

          I definitely can relate. 10-15 pages in a morning is pretty impressive! My goal right now is to be able to write my blog posts nearly as fast as I think of them. Right now I have a serious backlog of topics.

          • Felicia October 25, 2011, 7:34 am

            Diane, don’t get too impressed. I use magic markers and I write BIG. 🙂

  • Vidya Sury, Freelance Writer & Blogger October 23, 2011, 3:55 am

    Felicia, this is precisely what I am doing right now. Except my high tech tool is one-sided paper, since I receive loads of those, thanks to the ethics committee I work with (we evaluate protocols for human clinical trials – and these protocol dossiers run to hundreds of pages and submitted as hard copies. Go figure!)

    And I am in the process of doing it with my soon to be fourteen year old son. The last couple of weeks have not been happy – and in the process of trying to cope, I’ve found myself somewhat unfocused about the things I do. So I thought it is time to regroup my energies and am taking action on that front. That obviously means a lot of mental housekeeping along with the physical stuff.

    I am laughing as I write this comment. Simply because a/ this post hugs my heart and b/ my son’s coming up with some amazing ideas (and truths).

    Be well, Felicia. You’re a big inspiration. I worry when I don’t see your newsletter in my mailbox, even if I don’t always comment. In my mind, you’re in my top ten list of inspiring people, outside of family.

    • Felicia October 23, 2011, 9:42 am

      Doesn’t it make you feel good when you see your child think out of the box? Not only that, you get to marvel at what a creative and intelligent person you are raising.

      Vidya, thanks for the compliment. Being on your to 10 list is an honor.

  • Gip @ So Much More Life October 23, 2011, 9:22 am

    Very interesting. I’ve been writing in one form or another for two decades and have never really brainstormed. I do have a “little pieces of paper” method of capturing ideas. The little pieces of paper that keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile become less and less important to me and some of them eventually get thrown away. But I try to capture all my ideas so I don’t forget them.

    Some of my best blog posts, however, didn’t start as little pieces of paper. I thought of them while at the computer and wrote them immediately. Those were important enough to me to deserve immediate action.


    • Felicia October 23, 2011, 9:47 am

      The funny thing, Gip, is that I infrequently brainstorm when it comes to writing. When I’m in my flow (which is returning by the way), full articles come to me in the early part of the day when I’m barely awake. When I say come to me, I mean not only the idea, but paragraph by paragraph. I often get up and slap on my headphones to dictate the articles before I forget them.

      My brainstorming sessions occur when I’m at a crossroads. My recent slump in online writing was because I was tired of and bored with what I was doing. I had an inkling of the direction I wanted to go, but no concrete map on how to get there.

      Through brainstorming, I’ve come up with three distinct paths (well 4 because I was slammed with yet another idea this morning), on how to get to where I want to go. It will take time for me to get there, but I’m excited about the journey.

      Brainstorming was the shot in the arm that I needed to get myself back on the jazz.

      • Gip @ So Much More Life October 23, 2011, 11:34 am

        I understand about full articles appearing in your mind. Even when I was writing news stories 15 years ago, the organization of the story would appear in my mind while I was doing the interview. The danger in journalism is trying to make new facts fit into the story I had already designed.

        I’ve had ideas come to me before sleep, after sleep and while doing silly things like checking Facebook. When the writing mind is not engaged may well be when it’s the most fertile.

        Unfortunately, I also understand being tired and bored with my direction in life, but I think I’m past the most recent bout with that.


  • Melissa October 23, 2011, 4:03 pm

    I just went through a very similar strategy but using my journal, instead. I keep daily notes about my career & family life. Spreadsheets show my numbers, tell me what is working and what isn’t. But my journal adds in the details. When I saw the effects of Panda, I immediately went to my journal to read my thoughts and experience from the last go-round then compared it to my spreadsheets.
    My passive income tanked with Panda’s first strike BUT rose to its highest after Panda let up. If history repeats itself, the more passive articles I publish, the more earnings and page views I’ll receive when Panda backs off again. Even if my earnings do not rise to what they previously were, adding more passive articles only helps my career in the long run. And if my income (which increased by almost half after the last Panda) rises again near the same percentage, my earnings will have almost tripled by my calculations with the additional articles. I wrote the post on FM sharing my plans and goals after the recent Panda smack down to encourage other writers to think along the same lines. It’s a win-win situation, although it looks pretty bad right now.

    • Felicia October 24, 2011, 7:19 am

      Melissa, a journal is an invaluable tool. I started mine in 2001 and it’s well over 1,000 pages now. I use an old tech writer’s tool called Framemaker to keep my journal organized (I’m anal enough to have a clickable table of contents and can convert the massive document into a .pdf with one click).

      I like your optimism about writing more residual articles. I do agree with that, but I also see there are a lot of “ifs” in your plan. Just a suggestion; stick with your current writing plan, but come up with a contingency plan just in case one of the ifs don’t hold true. Like what if Google’s algorithm doesn’t go back to pre-Panda levels?

      It’s obvious that you’re not afraid of hard work and you are willing to put in the time. Maybe you should divert just a little bit of your time into a secondary plan that will keep you afloat just in case.

      • Melissa October 27, 2011, 5:42 pm

        You are very right! In fact, you are even more right today than when you replied! Because my ‘backup’ plan doesn’t seem like it will remain a good option anymore. Time for more high tech brain storming!

        But isn’t a freelance writing career full of ifs? Whenever you work entirely for yourself, you never know what and when an ‘if’ is going to present itself: clients back out, websites crash, Google drops the site, page views slow, etc. We have to be prepared for the ‘ifs’ at all times, like you said, with a backup plan. I learned this the hard way in the beginning of my writing career. I don’t ever want to go through that again!

  • Gianna October 24, 2011, 10:57 am

    This is a great idea.
    You know even though my kids are only 6,4,3,19 months, I can totally include them in a brainstorming session. I like to write funny stuff.
    What can be funnier than my children’s ideas from an adult perspective?
    What a fabulous idea! And a great way to include my children in my work.
    You. Are. Brilliant!

    • Crystal October 24, 2011, 1:43 pm

      Please take pictures and blog about this, Gianna, so we can all enjoy the fun:)

  • Hamish October 27, 2011, 4:23 pm

    Hello Felicia,

    That’s a great post. I love the “pacing” tip. I know that I “think on my feet”, if you know what I mean. Nothing better than a good walk, or pace around to get the creative juices flowing.

    Rather than pacing through the house scribbling on paper stuck to doors, I get on my treadmill and leave messages for myself on a voice recorder. Sometimes, if I’ve been at it for a while, it can be a bit hard to decipher my wheezing grunts! Maybe I will try sticking paper up around the house and strolling more sedately in future.

    Thanks for the tips.

  • Ellie December 17, 2011, 7:25 am

    Enjoyed your article on High Tech Brain Storming Tools. I am not into internet marketing; but, merely looking for ways to popularize my new site on anxiety attacks. You have provided me some very helpful tips. Thank you 🙂


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