Monday, January 19, 2009

How to Write: Part Four

Today, let's talk about brainstorming.

Brainstorming is a very important creative process. As a freelancer, it is a bit of a challenge for me, because I only have one brain to storm. But I have found ways to get around that.

1. Borrow a brain. By this I mean, tap into the creative power of others by carefully studying their work. There is a fine line between this and stealing. Do borrow. Don't steal.

When I first started out, if I was trying to come up with a headline I would pull out a magazine and find the most powerful and attention-grabbing ad. Next I would read the article right next to that ad, fill out the little card offering vacation information for seventeen different places in Alabama, and clip out any recipes that sounded yummy.

What was I talking about? I forgot.

2. Borrow your own brain. Save everything you write, whether it is a headline, an article, or a draft of a blog post entitled "Twitter Could Help You Earn A Million Dollars If You Send Me $25 I Will Tell You How." That way if you need an idea in the future, you can go back and tap into your own brilliance.

3. Adapt the rules. The usual rules of brainstorming are:
  • Assemble a group of people. (me, myself and I. check.)
  • Write down any and all ideas. (I take out a piece of paper and do this. check.)
  • See if a good idea comes up. (usually it does.)
  • Circle that one. (ok.)
Here is an example:
Let's say a client needs a headline for an auto loan postcard, to go out in late October. The most obvious tie-in would be a Halloween theme. So you start writing ...

Scary masks
Scare up a great rate

There you have it! Scare up a great rate! Submit that headline and watch the client rave:
"Sorry. We have decided to delay this project one week. Could we have some headlines dealing with Veteran's Day? Only don't mention Veterans. And we need to include the word 'marshmallow.' Oh, and please make it catchy."

Hopefully you recall my tips on submitting catchy copy. I'll give you a minute to study them. When you get back I will impart some wisdom on how brainstorming can help you earn a million dollars.

Stay tuned ...


Anonymous said...

Nice post on brainstorming. Also, I like your name. It will stick as you draw more attention.

I invite you to visit my site.


Lesley said...

Thanks Brian! I will be sure to visit your blog.


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