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Unblocking writer’s block – Technique 2: Brainstorming

Unblocking writer’s block – Technique 2: Brainstorming

Thursday, August 18, 2011, 17:40 GMT+7

Brief description:

Do you find writing difficult? Do you have any of the following problems?

• I have no ideas.

• I don’t know how to start.

• It takes me a long time to write one sentence.

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may have ‘writer’s block’. This describes the problem where we can write, but we don’t know what to write.

This short series of lessons suggests some techniques to overcome writer’s block. In this session we look at Brainstorming: a technique to help you quickly generate new ideas.

KEY CONCEPT:

Using Brainstorming as a technique to generate a large number of ideas in a short space of time.

WHAT IS BRAINSTORMING?

Brainstorming means writing down as many ideas as you can about a topic within a set time limit. Alex Osborn developed brainstorming in the 1950s as a technique to improve creativity. He designed it as a group activity, but the principles also work as an individual technique.

HOW DO I BRAINSTORM?

1. Write the topic at the top of your paper.

2. Set yourself a time limit (e.g. 5 minutes).

3. Note down any ideas you have about the topic. Don’t worry about how good or bad your ideas are. Just write down any ideas that you think of.

4. At the end of the time limit, read through your notes. Rank the ideas from most useful to least useful. Then select the best ideas to use in your writing.

Remember to follow Osborn’s 4 principles of brainstorming:

1. Focus on quantity: Try to produce as many ideas as possible. Do not worry about the quality. The greater the number of ideas you create, the greater the chance you have of producing original and interesting ideas.

2. Withhold criticism: In brainstorming, do not criticise the ideas you produce. Save this for an editing stage after the brainstorming stage. Instead, focus on extending or adding to ideas. This will help you feel free to create and write down unusual ideas.

3. Welcome unusual ideas: Unusual ideas can often help you see a problem in a new way. They can also inspire new ideas. So welcome them.

4. Combine and improve ideas: You may be able to put some of your ideas together. You may see a way to make one of your ideas better. If you can put together ideas or improve them, then do so. Remember: "1+1 = 3".

Remember this is a technique to generate lots of ideas. After the brainstorm, you need to select the best ideas and organize them to make an article or essay.

HOW WILL BRAINSTORMING HELP MY WRITING?

If you practice using the brainstorming strategy, you will:

• decrease your planning time;

• produce more creative, deeper ideas for your writing.

WHAT ARE SOME OTHER USES OF BRAINSTORMING?

group brainstorming

Brainstorming can also work well as a technique for solving problems at work or at home. In these situations, brainstorming in groups may be more effective. Put the problem on a whiteboard. Be specific and accurate when describing the problem. Then follow the brainstorming techniques and principles above. Remember that you will need to use more time for group brainstorming.

WHEN CAN I START?

Why not start now?

1. Choose one of the essay titles below.

2. Brainstorm it for 5 minutes.

3. Select the best ideas and cross out the worst ideas.

4. Group related ideas together to make paragraphs.

5. Write your essay.

Essay titles:

1. What are the causes and effects of pollution in your town or city? Suggest some solutions.

2. The government should invest money to build a high-speed railway network instead of building roads. Do you agree?

3. Today’s children are wealthier, but not healthier. Identify today’s major health problems for young people and suggest some ways to improve young people’s health.

Go on….try it!!!

This material is provided by the Australian Centre for Education and Training (ACET).

Tuoitrenews

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