Brainstorm Your Way From Blah to Brilliant!

October 15, 2020

You have a story waiting to be told.

Can you picture it?

Perhaps it’s a vague idea, a wisp of thought in the ether - not fully formed.

Have you ever heard of NaNoWriMo?

Chris Baty started it in July of 1999, but the next year moved it to November, and what started as a whim has grown to a global event, with over half a million people participating.

The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in a month.

Don’t panic!

I’ve got a smaller scale opportunity for you to write that story.


Summit Writing has decided to go with SuShoStoMo - Summit Short Story Month.

Here’s your opportunity to write a story, start to finish - and it’s only 1000-7500 words.

A worthy and attainable goal.

Will you take the challenge?

If so, keep reading.

Today, we’ll start with the brainstorming that will take your ideas from blah to brilliant.

I know it’s October, but to prepare for SuShoStoMo, we’re going to plan the story in October and write it, revise it and polish it in November.

First, let’s bust a few myths.

Myth #1 - Brainstorming is just throwing around random ideas.

Are you hesitant to brainstorm because you think it’s a waste of time? After all, you only need one good idea. Why waste time thinking of silly ideas?

Einstein had it right, “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

The truth is that there is a method to the madness - a way to get to your best ideas. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Myth #2 - You need to have original ideas.

Do you eliminate most of your ideas before they hit the page because you think they aren’t worthy, or they’re silly or impractical?

The truth is that there are very few- if any- original ideas. What’s original is your point of view - your perspective on an idea - the way you combine your thoughts. There are a lot of variables that go into writing a story. Your life experiences and beliefs uniquely color your ideas.

Mark Twain says it well, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn, and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely, but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Myth #3 - Writing prompts hinder creativity.

Do you feel boxed in when you’re given a writing prompt? Perhaps you feel that if the idea didn’t start in your brain, it’s not your original idea. After all, how can something unique come from a prescribed prompt?

The truth is that you’re looking at that prompt through the lens of your world view. You’ll think of things related to that prompt based on your experiences. Even if someone else uses that same prompt, they’ll be looking at it from a different perspective. That’s creativity. Taking what you’ve been given and making something from it.

When you have no constraints, - creativity is hindered. If you’ve ever faced writer’s block or looked at a blank page and wondered where to start - it may have been because you had too many choices. Limit your choices and watch your creativity flourish.

Having the constraint of a writing prompt will force you to think outside your comfort zone. As Dan Stevens says, “The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity.”

Now that we have those myths busted let’s get brainstorming your short story.

You’re invited to the Brainstorm Your Way From Blah to Brilliant! webinar.

Together, we’ll go through the brainstorming process using the Question Creation Framework™.

Watch it at your convenience. Join the webinar here.

The Rules

Every game has rules, and the brainstorming game is no different. They’re easy to follow, and there are only three of them.

1. Come up with as many ideas as possible.

2. Once it’s written, it stays written - no erasing.

3. You can combine and expand ideas.

The Cards

These aren’t really cards, but you’ve got options, and you need to choose one. You may end up using more than one option but start with one.

1. Start with a prompt.

2. Reinvent a story (or scene) you’ve read (fiction, non-fiction news, etc.).

3. Start with a situation that brings out a strong emotion - (fear, excitement, sadness, joy, anger, etc.).

The Game

Once you’ve made your choice, set a timer for 20 minutes.

When the timer rings, the game is over.

All you need to do is ask questions and write down answers.

Easy, right?!

Question Creation Framework™

Use the Question Creation Framework™ to walk you through the questioning process.

Start with who, what, where, when, why, and how. Then, ask questions about your answers to get more answers. Once you’ve exhausted those questions, start asking “what if’ in relation to the answers you created.

A word of warning. You will feel the urge to criticize your ideas. To erase them, to censor ideas thinking they aren’t ‘good enough.’ This is normal. I encourage you to resist the urge to erase and trust the process. I promise you that you’ll be amazed by the ideas you generate in 20 minutes.

Download the Question Creation Framework™ and brainstorm your way to a brilliant short story idea!