Brainstorming strategies to combat writer’s block

To paraphrase the rapper Jay-Z: Get your umbrellas out; there’s about to be a brainstorm—especially if you employ one of these five strategies.

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Before you start, remember the first rule of brainstorming: Enumerate, don’t evaluate. Just get the ideas down, and don’t judge them or organize them until the creative phase has wound down.

Here are five strategies to help:

1. Cubing

In this strategy, a topic or idea is examined from six distinct viewpoints—hence the name.

• Describe the topic (what is it?);
• Compare it (what is it like or unlike?);
• Associate it (what does it make you think of?);
• Analyze it (what constituent parts is it made of?);
• Apply it (how can it be used?), and argue for and/or against it (how can you support or oppose it?).

Cubing was developed as a critical-thinking exercise to help students express their thoughts in opinion essays, but it can be adapted for general nonfiction writing, though it is of limited value for fiction.

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