Are you freakishly obsessed with the niche you are in? If so, how long have you been like that? I mean, have you been blogging every single day for the past few years at least? If your answer is yes, something's wrong with you. And if your answer is no, and you're desperate to get back to the niche you got bored with, something's wrong with you too.
Anyway, what do you want to do about the blog you don't want to get rid of but you feel you've run out of topics?
We’ve all been in brainstorming sessions that have gone off the rails, and it can be frustrating trying to come up with new ideas when you feel like you’re just treading water. Searching for blog ideas is pretty much a job of your own. Can you brainstorm by yourself, or do you need to be in a group?
Of course, you can run a brainstorming session all by yourself. Yes? No? Yes! Then what does it take to be a successful brainstormer?
What Is Brainstorming?
Brainstorming is a process of generating ideas or solutions through spontaneous and freewheeling settings. It can be done either alone or in a group discussion. The goal is to come up with as many ideas as possible, without worrying about the feasibility or whether they are good ideas. Brainstorming allows your mind to freely come up with ideas without judgment.
Once the brainstorming session is over and you have a good list of ideas, you evaluate and select the best ideas to move forward with. It can help jumpstart your creativity and get your mind thinking about new and interesting ideas you may come up with.
The Different Types of Brainstorming Methods
#1 Classic Brainstorming: The Old-School Cool
First up is the classic method. This is the granddaddy of brainstorming, where everyone just tosses their ideas into the ring. You say whatever pops into your head, no matter how out-there it might be. The point here is quantity over quality – you can sort the wheat from the chaff later on.
- Everyone speaks their mind
- No idea is too wild
- Aim for as many ideas as possible
This approach is perfect when you've got a chill group that's not afraid to speak up. You get a wild mix of ideas, and nobody's shooting anything down. Sounds pretty freeing, doesn't it?
#2 Round-Robin Brainstorming: Taking Turns on the Idea Train
Then there's round-robin brainstorming. It's like you're sitting in a circle, and each person takes turns sharing an idea. It's democratic, it's organized, and everyone gets their moment in the spotlight.
- Everyone takes turns
- Each idea gets its due time
- No one dominates the conversation
This method keeps that one loudmouth from hogging the stage, you know? It's a solid choice when you want to make sure the shy folks in the room get heard.
#3 Brainwriting: Silent but Deadly (in a Good Way)
Moving on, we have brainwriting. No, it's not crafting a novel with your mind powers – it's a bit more down to earth. Everyone writes down their ideas silently, then passes their paper around for others to build on.
- Write, pass, repeat
- Builds on the ideas of others
- Great for introverted types
It's kind of stealthy and tends to unearth some gems that might not come out in a noisy free-for-all. Plus, it gives people time to think, which is always a plus, right?
#4 Rapid Ideation: Quickfire Round
Now, if you're in a hurry, rapid ideation might be your ticket. Set a timer and get as many ideas down as you can before the buzzer. It's fast, it's furious, and it can be a whole lot of fun.
- Energizing and fast-paced
- A burst of ideas in a short time
This method is a blast when the energy's high, and you've got a team ready to roll up their sleeves and dive in.
#5 The Stepladder Technique: Climbing the Idea Ladder
The stepladder technique is a bit more structured. You start with two people discussing an idea, then gradually add more people to the mix, one at a time.
- Start with a pair
- Add people gradually
- Each new person adds fresh perspective
It's a neat way to ease into a problem, letting ideas simmer and grow as more brains get in on the action. Makes sense for complex problems that need a bit of finesse, doesn't it?
#6 Mind Mapping: A Picture's Worth a Thousand Ideas
And hey, let's not forget mind mapping. This is where you draw your ideas in a big, sprawling diagram. It shows how concepts are connected and lets you visually jump from one idea to the next.
- Visual and engaging
- Shows connections between ideas
- Helps with memory and understanding
Perfect for the visual thinkers and doodlers among us, mind mapping turns brainstorming into an art project. Plus, it can be a neat way to keep track of a convoluted conversation, don't you think?
#7 Online Brainstorming: The Virtual Brain Dump
Lastly, in this connected era, online brainstorming has taken off. Using apps and online tools, teams can throw ideas around from anywhere in the world.
- Inclusive of distant team members
It's a lifesaver when your team's spread out, and let's face it, sometimes you've got your best ideas while chilling in your PJs at home, right?
When Should I Brainstorm?
A brainstorming session is good when you have;
- Very few ideas, or
- Too many ideas.
When you have a goal to achieve or a problem to solve, but it’s not clearly addressed and you don’t know what kind of steps to take, brainstorming is useful. You may have no or very few ideas, then get some more ideas from a brainstorming session.
On the other hand, you may be overwhelmed because you already have too many ideas. In which case you forget them all, reset your mind, and brainstorm from scratch.
It’s helpful to set some ground rules for your brainstorming session. For example, you might want to limit the amount of time you spend on each idea, or you might want to require each idea to be related to your overall topic. Set these types of parameters to keep your session focused and productive.
Pros and Cons of Brainstorming
Brainstorming can help you to;
- Generate new ideas.
- Think outside the box.
- Overcome writer’s block.
However, brainstorming can also;
- Be overwhelming.
- Make it difficult to narrow down ideas.
- End up in a waste of time. There’s no guarantee that any of the ideas generated during brainstorming will be good ones.
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Brainstorm Yourself To Overcome Writer's Block
If you're anything like me, you've probably experienced writer's block at some point or another. And if you have, you know that it can be a frustrating experience. The brainstorming technique can be used to overcome writer’s block and get your creative juices flowing again.
What is Writer's Block?
When you sit down to write and the words just don't come, you may be experiencing writer's block. Writer's block is a condition, usually temporary, that causes a writer to feel stuck and unable to produce new material. It can strike at any time and can be frustrating, especially if you're on a deadline.
Why Do We Get Writer's Block?
- You may be overwhelmed by the task at hand. When you sit down to write, you may feel like you have too much to say, or you may not know where to start.
- Perfectionism. You may feel like your writing has to be perfect, and so you get stuck trying to make it just right. Or, you may be afraid of making a mistake, so you don't start writing at all.
- Stress or anxiety. If you're feeling stressed about your writing, or about anything else in your life, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand and get your thoughts down on paper.
Steps To Overcome Writer's Block
If you find yourself struggling to overcome writer's block, here are a few tips that may help:
1. Take a Break From Your Blog (or writing project)
Sometimes all you need is some time away from your work to clear your head and regain some inspiration. Step away from your computer or notebook for a little while, and do something else entirely.
Go for a walk, take a nap, play games, take a bath…. Once you've had some time to relax, you may find it easier to get back to work on your project.
2. Set the Scene for Your Brainstorming Session
First things first, find a spot where your thoughts can roam free. A cozy corner with your favorite mug of coffee? Perfect. A quiet park bench where the world can just buzz by? Even better. Comfort is king when you need your brain to bring its A-game, right?
- Choose a comfortable and inspiring location
- Minimize distractions
- Have your coffee, tea, or snack at hand
Let’s say you’re more of an ‘ideas flow with the caffeine’ type. You might plop down in your local café, the buzz of conversation around you mixing with the aroma of coffee. Your laptop’s open, you've got your favorite playlist on low, and you’re sipping on that perfectly brewed cappuccino.
- Comfortable location: Your local café
- Minimize distractions: Headphones with your favorite tunes
- Snack at hand: That cappuccino we mentioned
3. Warm-Up Your Creative Muscles
Before you dive into the deep end, do a little warm-up. You wouldn't run a marathon without stretching first, would you? A quick creative exercise can get the mental gears turning. Try free writing for 5 minutes or doodle away on a piece of paper.
- Spend a few minutes on a creative warm-up
- Free write or doodle to get in the zone
- Set a timer to keep it brief but effective
Imagine you’re writing a blog about sustainable living. Before tackling the big stuff, start by jotting down everything you did today that was eco-friendly, even if it was as simple as using a reusable water bottle.
- Creative warm-up: Listing eco-friendly actions from your day
- Free write: "I carried my water bottle..."
- Timer: 5-minute countdown on your phone
4. Rethink What You Really Want To Do
You gotta know what you're aiming for to hit the target. What's the goal of your blog post? To inform, to entertain, to persuade? Having a clear goal in mind will steer your brainstorming session in the right direction. Jot down a quick sentence or two about what you want to achieve with your post.
- Determine the purpose of your blog post
- Write down your content goals
- Keep your objectives front and center
You decide your blog post should inspire people to try sustainable living without overwhelming them. You scribble down: "Show readers how easy it is to make sustainable choices every day."
- Purpose: Inspire small sustainable choices
- Content goals: A list of easy, everyday eco-friendly habits
- Objectives: Clearly noted at the top of your brainstorming document
5. Start with a Brain Dump
Now, unleash your thoughts. Write down every idea that pops into your head, no matter how zany it may seem. This is no time to be judgmental – every thought is a good thought at this stage. You can sort the wheat from the chaff later on.
- List out all your ideas without self-censorship
- Don't worry about organization yet
- Let the ideas flow freely
You write down all eco ideas coming to mind: from ‘Meatless Mondays’ to ‘DIY composting’. It’s a mixed bag — 'install solar panels' sits next to 'use a bamboo toothbrush'.
- Idea listing: Everything from meatless meals to big-ticket solar panels
- No self-censorship: Every eco-friendly idea goes on the list
- Idea flow: Rapid-fire typing or writing, capturing every thought
6. The Mighty Sort
Got a messy list of ideas? Great, you're doing it right. Now's the time to sort through and find the nuggets of gold. Group similar ideas, pick out the ones that spark the most joy, and you'll start to see themes emerging.
- Organize your ideas into categories
- Highlight the ideas that stand out
- Start to form clusters of related concepts
Now, you’ve got a list that’s all over the place. You start to put them into categories like ‘Food’, ‘Waste’, and ‘Energy’. Some ideas are too grand for a simple blog post, others are perfect.
- Organize: Food ideas in one group, waste in another, etc.
- Standout ideas: ‘Meatless Monday’ recipes, ‘how to recycle properly’
- Themes: You spot an emerging theme around easy kitchen-based sustainability hacks
7. The Great Narrow Down
With your themes in hand, it's time to narrow down. Which ideas are really getting you excited? Which ones align with your goals? This is where you pick the contenders that'll make it into your blog.
- Choose ideas that align with your blog's goals
- Select the most exciting and viable concepts
- Decide on a handful of ideas to expand on
Looking at your themes, you get really excited about the ‘Food’ category. It’s relatable and doable. You decide on a post about ‘Starting a Balcony Herb Garden’.
- Aligning ideas: ‘Balcony Herb Garden’ fits your sustainable living theme
- Excitement check: This topic makes you want to start writing immediately
- Idea selection: Choosing 'Balcony Herb Garden' because it's both exciting and practical
8. Expand and Explore
Take each of your chosen ideas and expand on them. Ask yourself, 'What's interesting about this topic?' or 'How can I present this in a way that's fresh and engaging?' Sketch out a rough outline for each idea to see if it's got legs.
- Write a rough outline for each idea
- Consider different approaches
- Flesh out the details a bit
For your ‘Balcony Herb Garden’ idea, you ask yourself why it’s relevant and how you can make it engaging. You outline steps like choosing the right herbs, getting supplies, and maintenance tips.
- Outline: Steps to create a balcony herb garden
- Different angles: Including cost analysis, potential challenges, and the satisfaction of cooking with home-grown herbs
- Details: You note down specifics, like the best pots and soil for herbs
9. Pick Your Winner(s)
Almost there! Look over your expanded ideas and see which one feels ripe for writing. Sometimes, you'll know it instantly – one idea will just feel right. Other times, you might need to sleep on it.
- Review your outlined ideas
- Trust your gut in picking the best one
- Don't be afraid to combine elements from different ideas
You’re feeling the ‘Balcony Herb Garden’ idea, but ‘Meatless Monday’ recipes are also calling to you. Why not combine them? Your post could be about starting a simple garden to supply ingredients for weekly vegetarian meals.
- Review: Looking over your detailed outlines for each idea
- Decision time: Combining the herb garden with meatless cooking feels like a win
- Combining elements: Your final post will offer readers a way to grow and use their own herbs
With your brainstorming complete and your best idea in the starting blocks, it's time to write. This is where the rubber meets the road, and all that brainstorming turns into a captivating blog post.
- Transition from brainstorming to writing
- Begin drafting your blog post
- Keep the momentum going
There you have it, a step-by-step to get from 'What should I write about?' to a list of brilliant ideas ready to go. Feels pretty good to have a plan, doesn't it? Now go on, give that blog of yours some fresh fuel to fire up your readers!