Simple Yet Effective Brainstorming Tips for Freelancers

Posted in Inspiration • Posted on 7 Comments

Great ideas are born in everyone’s mind, it takes careful planning and powerful execution to turn them into reality. Here brainstorming enters, it is the process by which you squeeze out all ideas you can think of and from there you piece them together to come up with a plan.

The human mind is so strong that it can conceive even the seemingly impossible. No software has ever come close to the mind’s processing of creative ideas, its complexity, and fluidity. Besides, all of the wonderful structures we see both in the cyber world and the tangible world are a product human imagination and careful execution. Now let us talk about brainstorming in-depth and build things that will wow the audience.

Starting Out

Image by: Eran Becker

Before brainstorming one should know the four basic rules of brainstorming:

1. More is better

The higher the number of ideas generated, the higher the chance of producing quality, and creative, solutions.

2. Absolutely no criticism

Either alone or in a group, criticizing ideas that are formed during brainstorming is a no-no. I was once in a group discussion and our leader said “today we will brainstorm about our next project.” The project was to develop a desktop application. After the leader stated the problem suggestions were fired from every direction, some good, some goofy. What followed next made everybody in the room silent as driftwood except for our leader. He was only writing the suggestions he liked and omitting what he doesn’t. The next 30 minutes ended with only one man speaking, and he was wondering why.

3. Welcome unusual ideas

In accordance to rule 1 and 2, even the most weird ideas should be welcomed. These ideas can spark more creative ideas which can then be polished.

The idea of man flying was unusual before the Wrights. Or Earth revolving the Sun.

4. Integrate ideas

With the Wrights’ plane and Einstein’s equation comes another great invention: bombing cities from a plane. Well, that’s too macabre but a good example.

Now that the rules are laid (once again) it is now time to define the problem.

Defining the Problem

Image by: Adam Ciesielski

The need to come up with a good story with lots of twists and turns, a wonderful design that will put a “wow” in every audience’s face, construct a fascinating structure, solve a hard riddle like Sherlock Holmes, enhance an existing function. This is the start of everything, defining what the problem is that needs action.

Let Your Imagination Run Wild

Image by: Svilen Milev

Absolutely no criticism is allowed. Leave that for later. Limiting your imagination is like limiting your world to your room. Do not be afraid of contradicting ideas, contradicting ideas breed competitive thoughts. Write everything that comes to mind, no editing!

Almost every novelist wish to have the same break like J.K. Rowling had. Look at how wide the world she’s conceived, how “natural” the laws of her world are that people began to think they are a part of it, all because of great imagination.

Whenever I brainstorm I just write all the things I think of and just sort them out later, don’t mind about grammar or far-flung ideas, they popped into your head because one way or another they have some sort of relationship to the problem you are brainstorming.

Related Ideas

From the main topic list related terms/ideas that will make the topic expand. Expanding the topic is important because as it expands, the room for improvement grows bigger and better. I find the above picture very effective to use whenever I brainstorm, a network of bubbles ultimately pointing to the center bubble.

The problem: Plan a Christmas Party. Hmm, there should be candies for the kids..oh! and gifts too. Children singing Christmas carols and a deer flying all over the lawn. Now that’s a perfect party that no one would ever forget!

Alone vs. Group

Image by: arte_ram

There are many pros and cons regarding what makes brainstorming effective, but studies suggest that brainstorming alone can generate more ideas than when with a group. Suppose a group of 5 talk in turns about what they think, you can’t talk about the ideas that come into your mind because that would be plain rude unless the group is fine with interruptions while they are talking.

Although thinking alone will remove fear of criticism from others and can produce more ideas, development is limited to your own view. If you have a few heads to spare, talk to them, let them into your world. Besides, other people can think of things that you probably haven’t yet. Say you are a designer and you have two friends who are too, the three of you exchange ideas which sparks your creativity. With the diverse experience the group has, surely a creative and plausible solution will appear.

There was this poster in the company I worked in where the protocols about cleanliness and orderliness are written. It states there that if there is a piece of furniture or equipment that is no longer needed and is just in the way, “gather the team and discuss” about what to do with it. Then it is followed by “ask someone who is not a part of your team” for a fresh perspective about the matter.

Constructing The Backbone (after brainstorming)

This is the part where ideas are sorted out according to plausibility and what of those can be used. The common pitfall here is people try to give all sound ideas in one shot which makes it out of context. Limiting what is only necessary and some tangent to topics is OK, but not everything should be included. As opposed to what is stated above, here, more is not necessarily better.

You don’t have enough Inspiration Points to start brainstorming? Read Feeling Uninspired? 6 Best Ways To Find Inspiration since you really need a lot of it to get going. Brainstorming can be easy as it can also be difficult. Get inspired first!

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Rean concurrently served as the Head of Operations and Editor-in-Chief of 1stwebdesigner from 2011 up until Aug 2014. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development with a little touch of internet marketing here and there.

7 Comments Best Comments First
  • Nikola

    Monday, November 1st, 2010 22:05

    1

    excellent article, although, I would say that critics ARE necessary, but we need constructive criticism. And, I personally, prefer solo work rather than in group, just because when you are in group, you start think:” I do not need to do anything, somebody will do it for me”. An the most important thing of all is: write, write, write… even if you just write down some silly words, they can be helpful

    0
  • Rean John Uehara

    Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 11:21

    3

    I’ve just read about Pomodoro Technique. I think I’ll try it. Thanks for sharing!

    0
  • Donny

    Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 05:10

    2

    I come up with my best ideas when I am totally relaxed and have my mind focused on one thing such as coming up with blog post topics or ideas for a design.

    0
  • Tony

    Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 09:37

    4

    Another important thing to keep in mind with brainstorming is focus. I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique for this. In a nutshell, the method uses short bursts of time to focus the mind on one topic, while still allowing breaks for time to think outside the box.

    Great tips here, thanks!

    0
  • alomda

    Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 08:15

    5

    it’s a really nice advice . thnx man

    0
  • Brian

    Friday, July 8th, 2011 21:22

    7

    I will surely apply some of these in our next meeting. ;-)

    0
  • Brett Widmann

    Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 21:19

    6

    Brainstorming is essential for starting a project. I brainstorm all the time and these tips are very helpful.

    0
  • Brian

    Friday, July 8th, 2011 21:22

    7

    I will surely apply some of these in our next meeting. ;-)

    0
  • Brett Widmann

    Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 21:19

    6

    Brainstorming is essential for starting a project. I brainstorm all the time and these tips are very helpful.

    0
  • alomda

    Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 08:15

    5

    it’s a really nice advice . thnx man

    0
  • Tony

    Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 09:37

    4

    Another important thing to keep in mind with brainstorming is focus. I’ve used the Pomodoro Technique for this. In a nutshell, the method uses short bursts of time to focus the mind on one topic, while still allowing breaks for time to think outside the box.

    Great tips here, thanks!

    0
  • Rean John Uehara

    Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 11:21

    3

    I’ve just read about Pomodoro Technique. I think I’ll try it. Thanks for sharing!

    0
  • Donny

    Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 05:10

    2

    I come up with my best ideas when I am totally relaxed and have my mind focused on one thing such as coming up with blog post topics or ideas for a design.

    0
  • Nikola

    Monday, November 1st, 2010 22:05

    1

    excellent article, although, I would say that critics ARE necessary, but we need constructive criticism. And, I personally, prefer solo work rather than in group, just because when you are in group, you start think:” I do not need to do anything, somebody will do it for me”. An the most important thing of all is: write, write, write… even if you just write down some silly words, they can be helpful

    0

Comments are closed.

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