The mind keeps conjuring up thought after thought, image after image when it is left to idle. Yet, we stumble when we have to write something.
Brainstorming to generate a steady flow of ideas
A blank page can be intimidating irrespective of whether it is in an exam or an assignment or a writing task at work. When you try really hard, an idea or two may emerge, but they maybe hardly result in a few words that may be hardly impactful to the reader. The tendency then for anyone is to conclude that one can’t write and shy away from writing.
The truth is that the human mind is capable of conjuring up innumerable images at short notice. Which is why meditating for long is such a challenge. Mind is a monkey they say. Why then do we hang back when we write? We are afraid of being wrong, worried about being judged.
Why then do we hang back when we write? We are afraid of being wrong, worried about being judged.
While the obvious thing to do is to avoid expressing oneself in writing, it is very hard to avoid writing in the real world. In school, students are expected to write what they know as well as what they think. Students who write more often have an easy flair and are able to overcome writer’s block more easily in almost any situation. Writing becomes second nature to them.
Brainstorming is an effective method in which students learn to create many ideas within a short period of time. Picture prompts effectively lend themselves to idea generation and the young executives enjoy unwinding letting their imagination free. They are given complete freedom to write what comes to their minds while observing a picture.
Take a minute before you read further. Observe this picture. What do you think is the story?
If you had let yourself go, your mind would have either observed the picture with much interest and conjured up a variety of conclusions.
This picture was on display for the Unwind@The Young Executives Club event. The participants shared their perspectives and story possibilities.
Welcome to a 360º perspective of the picture.
The power of imagination
It is interesting how everyone of us focussed only the two characters at first and several imaginative possibilities sprang up. What may seem like a friendship for a pair of eyes can look totally different for another pair of eyes even in the realm of imagination…
The dog is surprised or rather shocked to see the snowman. The way he is standing, his hind legs in tension and the front leg straining away as if to avoid a potential danger.
He is trying to give the snowman a hand by trying to attach that stick into him.
Or perhaps he has taken away that stick and the snowman is not happy about it. If that’s the case pointed out another participant, there must be a hole on the side. Or did the snowman have one hand on the side that is hidden?
The snowman is looking into the dog’s eyes and saying something that is terrifying the dog. But he does not have a mouth, how does he speak?
They are a cast in an animated movie and maybe the dog is trying to become friends with the snowman.
The snowman is playing fetch with the dog.
Perhaps, the dog was actually building a snowman but the head was slowly slipping down.
And then, the rational mind takes over…
When imagination runs its course, the mind begins to think and observe looking for hard core facts. Having used up their imagination, the participants moved onto more practical concepts such as the texture of the snowman and the dog, the surroundings etc. It was pointed out that the snowman’s texture looks more like Thermocol than snow. Also, if it is snow it is impossible that the head would stand tilted like that. A snowball would slip down easily. The dog probably is a stuffed dog and the entire scene has been set up for a photoshoot. The trees look plastic and the two identical houses make it more evident that this is a set. Who has similar looking houses in reality? Also, the photographer has cleverly ensured that the focus is on the two characters in the scene and less on the surroundings. As a result, we as viewers are first drawn to them and then we slowly move on to observe the surroundings.
How does this exercise help in dealing with a blank page?
In terms of idea generation observe how the mind randomly generates imaginative ideas which need not be necessarily true in the real world. Once those random ideas run their course, the mind begins to shoot questions which eventually will motivate the writer to look for information by either digging into one’s own experiences or memories or resort to research if possible. The beauty in the above exercise is that there are multiple perspectives and no right or wrong in particular. It also reenforces the fact that someone’s ‘judgement’ is simply another perspective and not the ‘only’ perspective. Over time, writing freely becomes a means of self expression and not just a means to impress anyone.
The beauty in the above exercise is that there are multiple perspectives and no right or wrong in particular. It also reenforces the fact that someone’s ‘judgement’ is simply another perspective and not the ‘only’ perspective.
Every perspective has a potential for a story of some sort which if written freely in an engaging manner, would enthral many an audience. It is up to the writer to build on the point that appeals the most as well as based on what the requirement is. When this becomes a habit, the writer’s self confidence grows considerably. The number of instances in which a writer complains that I don’t have any ideas will gradually transform into, “I am sure I will be able to come up with something quickly.”
Interested in reading more about what generation Z thinks about currently relevant matters? Do check out the Young Executives Club Publication