10 Brainstorming Techniques for Writing (Plus Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 29, 2022 | Published April 5, 2021

Updated March 29, 2022

Published April 5, 2021

Holding a brainstorming session can help you generate new and unique ideas for your writing projects and assignments. Knowing the benefits of brainstorming for writing and the various brainstorming techniques you can use can help you become a more developed and seasoned writer. In this article, we explain what brainstorming is, explain the benefits of brainstorming and list brainstorming techniques for writing.

Related: 15 Brainstorming Exercises To Generate Ideas

What is brainstorming?

Brainstorming refers to the process of producing ideas or solving problems. You can brainstorm as part of a group or brainstorm individually. During a brainstorming group session, members create a list of spontaneous ideas for a particular problem. Then, they decide on one idea to solve the particular problem. In an individual brainstorming session, you generate ideas on your own through various techniques. No matter the setting, brainstorming helps you consider a vast array of ideas and find links between them before discovering a potential solution.

Related: How To Run an Effective Brainstorming Session

Benefits of brainstorming for writing

Brainstorming provides you with many benefits as a writer, no matter the content you're working on. It ultimately gives you the opportunity to consider a wide variety of ideas and concepts before starting your next writing project. Here are some specific benefits of brainstorming for writing:

  • Eases tension: When you hold a brainstorming session, you're less likely to run out of ideas in the middle of writing. Therefore, not only does brainstorming save you valuable time later on, but it can also help relieve the stress of not knowing what to write.

  • Gets ideas out early: When you brainstorm early in the writing process, it allows you to consider every idea you can think of before you start writing. Doing this can help you determine which idea resonates with you the most, ensuring you make the most of your time.

  • Develops organization: Considering a wide variety of ideas before you start writing gives you the opportunity to pick which topics hold greater importance over others or which should go before another. Therefore, the brainstorming process naturally develops organization for the writing process.

Brainstorming techniques for writing content

When it comes to brainstorming, you have many techniques to use as a writer. Implementing these techniques can help you focus in on a particular topic and help you grow in your craft overall. Here are 10 brainstorming techniques for writing content:

Free writing

This brainstorming technique involves letting your thoughts and ideas flow freely onto a piece of paper or your computer screen. Set aside a short amount of time to write and spend that time solely writing and filling pages or word processing documents. Write anything that comes to mind. Rather than worrying about typos or other grammatical errors, focus on getting as many ideas down as you can until time runs out. Once you finish writing, review your ideas and find the best ones to develop.

Looping

Take the free writing technique a step further with looping. In this method, you move in "loops" from one free writing exercise to another. For example, perform a free writing exercise of about 5-10 minutes and move onto the next until you have several free writing pieces. At the end, review your unique ideas or phrases. During this process, you may discover one of your recurrent ideas that you may want to pursue in your future writing project.

Charts or shapes

If you have a visual mind, consider creating charts, graphs and tables instead of a list of phrases to explore new writing ideas. For example, you can use certain phrases or words related to your topic and arrange them in various ways spatially, such as in a chart or grid. These spatial representations can help you find relationships between your ideas.

Related: Types of Graphs and Charts

Word banks

If you're looking for a variety of words for your next writing project, consider creating or using a word bank. Word banks are groups of words based on the word you need for your writing topic. This brainstorming technique helps you find words associated with your topic without repeating the same words throughout your project.

Clustering

Clustering gives you the ability to explore how your ideas connect. When you no longer have ideas, write down a single topic in the middle of a page. Then, highlight the subject and think of a related topic or idea and link it to the central subject. Then, think of another idea that relates to your recently created idea. Repeat these steps until you have several ideas in web-like format that come from a main subject.

Clustering essentially lets you view your writing ideas in a different visual format. Find clusters of ideas you find interesting and use the key terms for each as a starting point for your next writing assignment or project.

Purpose and audience

During your next brainstorming session, consider the purpose of your writing. For example, consider what you want to do, whether you're trying to inform or what you're trying to describe. In addition, consider the audience for your writing. Think of who you want to communicate with, what the audience needs to know, what they already know and the logical flow of information they need. Doing this can help you narrow down what you need to cover in your writing.

Listing

If you're interested in writing about a singular topic or idea, use the listing method. The listing technique involves creating a list of words or phrases related to the topic you want to write about. For example, if you want to write fiction, you can create a list of details, scenes or characters to include in your writing project.

Make sure to avoid outlining your future writing topic. When you're done with your list, group any list items together in a logical manner and create title each group. Then, write a sentence for each group to create a topic or theme you want to develop. To get a broader topic, build on the topic sentences.

Journalistic questions

When you look for a new story idea or an angle for a particular story, ask yourself the journalistic five W's and one H questions. These include: who, what, when, where, why and how. Generate topic ideas and potential angles based on these questions. You can also determine how to address each topic with these questions.

For example, write each question on a piece of paper and answer each in relation to your topic. Then, review each of your answers and determine which question you know more or less about. Use this to create new writing ideas. In addition, continue to research and build on ideas or areas you're more knowledgeable about.

Researching

Consider visiting a local library or writing center to browse reference texts like dictionaries or guide books. Using these books can provide you with additional information related to your writing projects. Gather any information regarding current or past events related to your topic and use your research to further develop your writing project.

Related: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

Cubing

With the cubing technique, you look at your topic from six different angles or directions Write your topic on a piece of paper and describe it, compare it, associate it, analyze it, apply it and argue both for it and against it. Look what you wrote and determine whether any of your responses offer new ideas about your writing topic. Identify any patterns or themes you see between the six different directions and use these to approach your next writing topic.

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