How to Brainstorm: From Nothing to a Great Idea

You need to come up with an idea for a blog post, and you need to come up with it quickly.

You need to come up with an idea for a blog post, and you need to come up with it quickly. You can’t really make yourself come up with something brilliant by sheer force of will, or else everyone would be having earth-shattering ideas all the time. So what do you do when you need to come up with something stat?

The answer is brainstorming. This technique was first developed in the 1930s for creatives in advertising. True, it was first created for group use, but individual brainstorming is just as effective, and possibly more effective, since you don’t have to ‘yes, and’ bad ideas to impress your boss. This is about you and your brain.

Here’s how you brainstorm:

No Distractions

Obviously, anything as small and insignificant as an email notification can disrupt you and get you out of the zone. For most effective brainstorming, turn off anything that makes a noise or lights up. That means no phone, no email, nothing but you and whatever you’re using to put down your ideas. A notepad would be great for this, since there’s no chance you’ll see a popup there. But typing is ultimately better, so you should use Write! to take your notes. Press Crtl+Shift+F to enter focus mode so as not be distracted by any ideas you’ve already written.

Aim for Quantity

Quality comes from quantity. Set a number of ideas you want to have, and don’t stop coming up with them until you hit your goal number. It doesn’t matter if twenty ideas are bad if you get two good ones out of the process.

Write Down Everything

When brainstorming, ideas can’t be ‘bad’. So don’t discriminate – write down everything you think. Stopping to consider whether an idea is ‘good’, ‘bad’ or even workable will interrupt your process and has the danger of making you self-conscious about the ideas you’re having, and that’s the last thing you want.

Think About Problems

When you’re coming up with ideas, don’t think of cool or attractive titles, and don’t think of what your audience would want. Instead, come up with a problem to solve. What is an issue that you’ve had to solve recently? Is it a more efficient way to edit? Is it how to brainstorm? Both of these a great ideas for posts, you’d better write them down!

All great blog posts are answers to different questions. What are questions you have that are relevant to your niche? Are they the same ones your readers are having? Odds are that, yes, they are similar, and your posts might be used to get insight into those questions.

Grow One Idea Into Several

Once you have an idea, create a new document (new sheet for you notepad-teers) and write down all the ideas you have that are related to that. Some of them can be new posts in and of themselves, and others can be used in the outline for your post. Maybe a series on this topic?

Research the idea, and a bunch of additional ideas and questions to answer are bound to come up. Use any and all you think might be interesting or relevant to your audience. Baby, you’ve got a blog post going.

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Brainstorming is a great way to come up with new ideas for practically anything. Just sit down, and bang them out. Don’t be embarrassed to write down even your worst ideas. If later on you’re going to look at your notes and say, “what was I thinking?” you can still rework some of the ideas, come at the problem from a different angle or even combine ideas to come up with something you can work with. There’s no incorrect way of coming up with a great idea, so have no shame in trying everything.

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Laconic Lemming
Content crafter at Write!, spends all his time writing or learning how to write better. A few time was caught reading The New York Times and watching TED talks during working hours.
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11 Comments

  • After reading several points of interest on brain storming and surfacing bright ideas, I just want to highlight my preferred way of surfacing an idea. Writing it down is my best way of turning a rough draft into an article. I love to keep the flow going when one wheel starts turning and then I start to finish projects after projects and tasks after task. Before I know it I’m turning all my wheels in my head and light bulbs are really lighting up.

    • Thanks for sharing, Annikki!

  • That’s great to hear. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Marcos, happy that you like it πŸ™‚

  • My brainstorming tip is lots of coffee

  • I love the positivity in these posts.
    Call me old school but for mind-mapping sessions nothing beats whiteboards or a desk full of moveable sheets of paper.
    This article certainly won me over on the merit of Active Sessions for individual ‘dossiers’ rather than single documents. This allows for main docs and appendices to make navigation more manageable. In some way this adds some of the flexibility of loose sheets and the freedom of pen and paper.
    Love the way your software is progressing. Don’t forget about us Windows users like Evernote and others did but good luck with your cross-platform development <3

    • Hey Monsoon! Thanks for your comment :^)
      Whiteboards and paper are pretty great, but we prefer typing stuff for maximum speed.

      Thanks for using Write!. And yes, Windows is in our hearts forever <3

  • Great ideas, will totally use.

  • Today I learned something new. Thank you.

    • You are welcome πŸ˜‰

  • Cute post.