Author C. M. Martens

Brainstorming Tactics

Our Obsession with Notebooks

An introvert by nature, it’s been nice to find like-minded people through the #bookstagram and #writersfollowwriters community on Instagram.

One thing I’ve noticed in this culture of creatives is that my (ex)obsession with all things journals, notebook, and pen related items is (was) not unique. Watching so many great ways others’ use these tools is great fun (yeah, nerd alert. You already knew), and usually, has me conversating with myself about the desire to bring them back into my life. What better way to spend an afternoon than shopping for bound paper and cool graphic instruments?

Somehow, I’ve been able to repress the urge…

The last few years have converted me into a gypsy, my vagabond style of living forcing me to streamline my possessions. Simplifying travel became my most focused concentration. Going electronic was the easiest way to keep my library, both reading and personal-muse-storage, with me at all times. Instead of carrying pounds of notebooks and utensils with me everywhere, which I did for years (fueling an obsession I had with messenger bags), I went efficient. My MacBook Air was the best purchases I ever made.

After giving up the habit of amassing every cool writing tool I could find, I still find myself surrounded by some hangers-on…

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Still even this streamlining had me missing critical points in ideas my muse would throw that I failed to hang on to…

Current Brainstorming Tactics

There is so much advice floating around about how best to “plot,” to brainstorm, to organize one’s stories. After so many notebooks, filled with notes, and outlines, then moving on to trying to do this same thing electronically, I’ve found my most successful way for me is to simply stare into space…

I think it started when I realized all my newest story ideas were fueled by dreams. Recording the dreams usually sets me up to be able to hash out the thoughts/feelings invoked by such a situation (we all know how coherent dreams can be). It usually takes me weeks to figure out how a scene or emotion that caught me in slumber can be fixed to a cohesive design.

That’s where staring comes in.

Writing, whether through a keyboard or pen and ink, takes time; time where my run-amuck thoughts are racing faster than my fingers can keep up. I’ve lost so many nuances this way.

But staring off, letting my mind work through details, figuring out the interconnectivity of basic points, keeps me from losing so much. Often, this is part of my pre-sleep ritual: to lay in bed, rehashing points I’ve come up with, seeing if they still work after “sleeping on it.”

I used to forget when I didn’t write it down (a thing that happened more than not). I used to forget while I was writing it down. Now, it’s clearly in my head. As points solidify, I put in down in physical form so, instead of hundreds of random notes that rarely come together coherently, I have more solid plans when I  get down to writing.

  • What’s your brainstorming method?
  • How do you figure out the main points of your story?

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