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Three Brainstorming Techniques To Smash Through Creative Blocks

Are you overwhelmed by all the tools and approaches that can be used when brainstorming and structuring stories? The Hero’s Journey, Save The Cat, The Snowflake Method and many more.  Have you ever hit analysis-paralysis? If you have ever been stuck, looking for a solution despite having all of these tools at your disposal, then look no further. 

Imagine having a process that helps you decide which tool to use at each  stage of your brainstorm. Imagine knowing what methods to employ when faced with different challenges in your storytelling.  Imagine having a framework that helps you move forward and cuts through the confusing tools. 

That is what I find these three approaches below to be.  They’re not tools. They are methodologies, paradigms or mind-frames that can help you pick the correct tool.  Think of them as mental processes to push through creative blocks in any brainstorming situation - even those that don’t have to do with storytelling.

Process Number 1: Substance Before Form

 I came across this idea in the biography of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell. When giving some advice about writing, Johnson speaks about the importance of getting down the rough substance of the idea without bothering about making it all pretty. After getting it all out of your head, you can then go back and give it form, make it pretty, dot the T’s and cross the I’s. Or, in the writing context, apply all your favourite structural paradigms and ferret out any plot holes. 

Before going back to give that substance home. Now, Johnson was a very prolific writer. And it took me a bit of time to be able to understand what he meant by that a bit of time and a bit of experimentation. I think a good system that helps me understand better what he meant by substance before form was the pre writing method, which is something I came across in another book by what it entails is getting your thoughts down as quickly and as roughly as possible, and never going back to them, or to correct them, or to make them more understandable to anyone but yourself in that respects the backspace key is a big enemy. It's funny how when learning how to type. One of the biggest challenges that is supposed to type in students is to not use the backspace key. Think of it as deleting the backspace key. When it comes to your own writing. So the idea is, get all your thoughts down as quickly as possible on paper, and get to the end of it before going back and trying to rewrite everything. 

Second, paradigm that I have found absolutely useful is the rule of 10. The rule of 10 is a brainstorming technique that I came across in the comic toolbox by john bar house. I have used it many times since then, especially because I work in solitary. And I find that I often have to brainstorm all by myself. Simply put, the rule of 10 minutes, whenever you're faced with any challenge any problem. Any way around it. Sit. Do not stop until you get the most obvious. And usually the least useful magic often starts to happen around points number seven, eight, and nine. And just statistically speaking, most of the time the solution lies, around the seventh, eighth edition to the problem. The 10th, sometimes works but oftentimes it is just a filler. And in my guts, I realized that either seven eight or nine is usually the way forward. I think this rule of 10 can also be used, generally in life before and is looking for creative solutions to problems that one can face on a day by day basis. The third interesting paradigm that I have found useful is the idea of passes. So again, this is a process idea where it means. Do not proceed, or do not mix different water passes. The best way to explain this is with an example. It is sort of mentioned are included in the first approach above, which is substance before form. So, let's say I'm working on my substance bus. I finished substance bus, and I do nothing else during that substance bus. I get on my post down, and I will not proceed to editing, until I have finished putting all the substance down. And then I proceed to the form pass the form past can be broken down into many different passes. For instance, in one pass. I could be completely focused on only addressing structural issues. In that situation, I focus all my attention solely on addressing structural issues. And I don't stop to try and get rid of adverbs or capitalized first names or insert commas where they need to be. That is for two different process. In the following past, it could be the style pass, in which I only focus on getting rid of adverbs and turns of phrase which are repetitive, or any other crutches in my writing, and that only focus on that, nothing else. Once they get to the end of that I can then do a proofread pass in which I'm paying attention to capitalized first names, commerce and full stops in the correct places. And I do nothing else except that the great advantage of working with passes, is that it gets rid of fatigue and discouragement, oftentimes in my writing, I have found that when I mixed two processes together, it takes so long, and I get so bogged down that I feel as though I am going nowhere. The approach of classes, is what really helped me in one of my most recent gigs, where I had working on a daily show, and I had to turn out a script, every second day. It was crazy, but working in passes enabled me to be able to turn around a half hour script and 48 hours. So, that's it. Those are the three process notes of process mind frames that you can approach when using different tools in your writing will stop. Try them out test them. Let me know how they go, drop me an email at Fidel at story,, with your thoughts and look forward to hearing from you.