The paper is due soon, and you’re still stuck with the topic? Research or any other rational methods don’t help? So why not try brainstorming? It’s a proven technique that will let you fight your block and land you with a nice solution in the end. Let us see below what brainstorming is and how to use it properly in your academic life.
The original brainstorming was developed in 1953 by an advertiser Alex Osborn who outlined the method in his book Applied Imagination. During the upcoming years, psychologists, marketers, and educators have upgraded the technique and introduced a number of its variations to general audiences. The main idea of brainstorming is to get a person out of his or her “thinking comfort zone” through generation of unconventional and sometimes even crazy thoughts and ideas. Brainstorming is usually done within a group, but individual brainstorming proved to be even more effective in achieving the end result.
So, when you are stuck at the beginning and don’t know how to solve the problem, such as finding the right topic for your research paper, you should try brainstorming on your own. There will always be something that you will hesitate to say aloud in a group because of its “irrelevance”. When you are by yourself, you are more unrestrained, safe, and free with your own “crazy” ideas. Below are four steps that will guide you through the thought-generating creative process.
Prepare the Environment
First of all, you should find the ideal time when your brain generates the greatest number of ideas. Most people are more productive and spontaneous in the morning, and almost everyone is least productive after lunch. It is okay to change the convenient time, place and setting once in a while; this might help you make your brain more active due to the change in environment. You can also change the medium: if you are more used to making notes on your laptop, you might try to switch to markers or pencils and a plain sheet of paper.
Put It All out
After you’ve prepared the space, picture the problem. You might ask yourself about the result you want to achieve. Then, start generating ideas that are associated with the central one. Don’t keep anything to yourself: spit out all your ideas, even if they might seem irrelevant or stupid. Practice unselfconsciousness and spontaneity — let the unrestricted flow of ideas spill onto your sheet. You can look for inspiration and ideas everywhere, even if it’s far beyond your field. For example, if you are about to write an essay on a gender-related topic, then go beyond sociology and recall films or TV shows that you’ve watched recently. Write everything down; the more ideas you have, the more you have to choose from. Tools like a mind map (MindNote, if you prefer working in an app) might come in handy.
Organize All Your Notes and Get the Result
At this stage, you might come up with more ideas. Don’t suppress them because they may lead you in the right direction, one by one. You can even make a break to get together with all your thoughts. In this case, we suggest that you carry around a notebook where you continue from where you stopped. Once you’re done with new ideas, select the best of them and combine them together. In most cases, your topic will emerge spontaneously, and you’ll just need to shape it up.
Normally, brainstorming does not take too much time. Your brain won’t be an endless source of creativity, and ideas will be out pretty soon. As for the solution, it is always out there — you just need the right tool to reach it. Remember that you only need to pick the right topic for your paper, and the best you can get is a boost. A brainstorming session will help you with that.