The Art of Brainstorming

One of the most daunting tasks I’ve found in trying to think of a good idea for a muse/business is the process of brainstorming itself.  Sure, ideas can and will randomly pop into your head throughout the day, but brainstorming is the conscious act of attempting to generate ideas. defines the origin of the word “brainstorm” as, “a severe mental disturbance.”  That’s frightening.  To me, it’s an exciting word because the first thing I think of when I hear “brainstorm” is a bunch of lightning bolts hitting you in the head.  I think many will agree that the process of brainstorming is probably just as frustrating.

The weird thing with brainstorming is that you want everything to come naturally, but at the same time, you’re forcing it.  You’re setting aside time and saying, “Hey, this is the time and place I’ve selected to think of ideas.”  So what are some good strategies?

Personally, I need to be away from my usual working spots (desk at work, desk at home) in order to really start cooking ideas.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Running outdoors – There’s something about constant movement and shortness of breath that really gets the idea juices flowing.  Some of my best ideas have come while jogging/running outdoors, and I’m not really sure why.  Maybe it’s the fact that the environment is constantly changing and I’m alone with my thoughts.  Note that I’m specifying outdoors rather than inside on a treadmill.  For some reason, this doesn’t work the same for me (probably because you’re in a fixed environment).  This is my personal favorite, because it kills two birds with one stone (brainstorming & fitness).
  •  Inside a coffee shop while listening to music – Most students are probably familiar with this; At one time or another, we’ve studied in a coffee shop.  The tranquil yet busy environment lends itself to focusing on your thoughts.  There’s enough noise and movement to keep you awake, but it’s subtle enough where it doesn’t distract you. 
  • Driving alone – Similar to running outdoors, you’re alone and the environment is constantly changing.  Also, I find this to be the only place where it’s appropriate to talk to yourself.  The great thing is, when a car pulls along side of you and sees you talking with no one in the car, that person will assume you’re using a Bluetooth headset for your cell phone.

I think brainstorming sessions are crucial to muse/business idea generation and development.  It can be challenging to force yourself to set time aside for thinking, but the payoff is very rewarding.  I like to set my brainstorming sessions to be no longer than 30 minutes.  Also, if you’re using strategies 1 or 3 from above, make sure you jot down any ideas that you brainstormed, when you’re done.

Have any other good brainstorming strategies?  Share them in the comments.
30-Day Challenge Update – Day 8 (2/2):

Day 8 Total                        $  0.00

30-Day Challenge Expense Total: $132.80

“Allowed” Expenses Remaining $367.20

Average Daily Expense to Date:  $16.60 (Target Average: $16.67/day)

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One Response to “The Art of Brainstorming”

  1. Your indoor/outdoor dichotomy has some real merit. I've always been able to think more clearly outside. Maybe it is a deeply-ingrained element of our psyche or DNA. Don't know, but I know it to be real.

    I've read that Thomas Edison used to sit in a chair in the middle of a dark room with a pen and notebook, let his mind go free and jot down ideas as they came. Was he an early practitioner of TM? In any case, he sure had plenty of ideas, but he also said that invention was 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.

    I personally think a lot of it is beyond our control, a combination of fate, faith and luck. Some of my best work just "came to me" out of the blue, when I was least expecting it. Read "Think and Grow Rich" for more insight into how thoughts turn into things and keep up the good work. Zero spending! Victory!


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