Sometimes we need to kickstart our brains into action. You can only get so far with abstract thought, so it becomes incumbent on us to jot things down… so that we can get that story into a manageable format. You know, before it turns into a screenplay. This is a great idea because it means progress. Thinking that the story is in your head isn’t enough. You need others to be able to connect and join the dots to your story idea. So, how do you get there if you’re in the mushy developmental stages of a new story idea or concept for your screenplay? Besides start that is.
Well, one of the best ways to brainstorm is to write, whatever. Freewriting is about writing whatever pops into your mind. A process of free association, it’s a way for your subconscious to kick into gear and for ideas to gurgle and bubble until you’ve got a geyser or epiphany to match Old Faithful. Set a timer for this kind of session and let your mind break free into a non-judgmental space where nonsense makes sense. You’ll be surprised at what wells up in this time of maximum creativity and free-ranging productivity.
Another useful technique is mind-mapping, which is about connecting ideas through visual means. Grab a piece of paper and start with the primary idea in the middle and branch out with linking lines to new ideas and departments. Using a chart or diagram can help you identify trends and make connections in a more visually-orientated variation of free-writing.
While these solo pursuits can help you unlock writer’s block or sharpen your perspective on an idea it can be even more productive to open the brainstorming to the proverbial “peanut gallery”. Get your friends, colleagues or peers involved in the process. Thanks to online video conferencing there’s no excuse. Rope these people in your sphere into a quick session to help with that creative spark even if it means luring them with the promise of coffee.
If you’re not feeling the urge to commit ink to paper, maybe you need to do a little dreaming first. Consider the “What If?” game where you take a familiar concept or situation and simply ask “what if?” to take you down the rabbit hole. This imaginative exercise will take you down unexpected roads where stories turn from good to great. Be open to new possibilities and dream a little. Get someone involved to bounce ideas off and you’ll be surprised at the results.
Once you’re done brainstorming, it’s time to collate and sift through the muddle to find the gems. Remember this isn’t going to be graded, you’re just wanting to jumpstart your mind. So don’t worry about quality and perfection and remember to have fun. This is a starting point, so allow yourself the space and time to engage and reflect. It won’t be long before you’re feeling energised and writing a script that flows.