The brainstormer’s toolbox: Our tried-and-true techniques.

Posted April 22, 2016 in by

I have a confession to make: I find brainstorming terrifying. Something about free-thinking exercises and blue-sky ideas makes my inner structure-loving self twitch a little bit. But as you can imagine, as a copywriter, I’ve had to get over that fear pretty quickly. In doing so, I’ve learned to rely on a few key brainstorming tricks to get over the hump and into my creative happy place.

Below are a few of my favorite jump-starters. You can also download our free e-book, Meeting Up With Innovation, for more recommendations.

Keep inspiration handy. Whether it’s a stack of Communication Arts back issues or links to cool websites you’ve stumbled upon, if you feel your brainstorming grinding to a halt, make sure you have some creative inspiration nearby. Sometimes seeing someone else’s awesome work is the kick in the pants you need to get moving.

Take a break. When you’re staring down the barrel of a deadline, I know hitting pause can seem counterproductive. But in reality, it can end up being just the brain break you needed. I’ll never forget one evening when my concepting partner and I were completely stuck on a direct mail piece, and I had to leave for a sand volleyball game (shout out to my team, The Underdogs!). I was afraid it would completely interrupt the flow, but instead, I came back to the work feeling refreshed and inspired. Who knew?

Use prompts. Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack has solved many a brainstorming crisis around here. Each card functions as a nudge in a different direction—whether it’s an activity, a change in perspective or a challenge—designed to “whack” you out of your current thought process.

These are just a few of the techniques that keep my creative motor running. For more, download the Meeting Up With Innovation e-book—and if you have brainstorming tips, share ’em in the comments.





brainstorming techniques

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