This past week I was asked by three screenwriters what I do to avoid or get out of screenwriter’s block. My response was, “There is no such thing.” They were all adamant that it existed, but I had a differing viewpoint since I’ve never experienced it. These discussions helped me to realize that some people need a few steps to regenerate their creativity, so here they are:
I was in a special Bell Labs program where we were asked to come up with 100 different uses for a widget that was put in front of us. Others who participated in the think tank a week earlier only came up with 17 innovative ideas and gave up.
The team I was on immediately came up with 23 ideas and then everyone’s ideas except for mine started to fade. A few people asked why I wasn’t stumped. I shared how I thought through everything from my perspective, then looked at it from the viewpoint of a child. After hitting 56 ideas, I changed my perspective to that of an elderly woman.
Everyone followed suit and we completed the project with 137 innovative ideas. We later learned that idea number 97 was selected and the product was manufactured, making the company millions.
STEP 2: SCRIBBLE DOWN FIRST THOUGHTS – Before you start, scribble a bunch of ideas onto paper without much thought.
I worked on an animated project with an expert animator who started his brainstorming process by scribbling doodles onto a plain white piece of paper. He never wanted to start with nothing, and the scribbles made sure he always started with something.
The first time I scribbled lots of messy lines onto the page, I found three cool characters buried inside of the scribbles. I then went over them with a thicker marker so they would stand out enough for me to transfer the concepts to a clean sheet.
The technique worked the same for writers. By reducing first thoughts to writing, the creative person is able to develop a mind map or board ideas that will drive new ideas and a fresh focus.
STEP 3: BIRTH NEW IDEAS BY EXPLORING CONTENT – If your content is too short or not entertaining, expand it by asking questions about each existing idea.
The first writing course I ever took taught me about the 5Ws and H: Who, what, where, when, why and how. By asking these questions around every brainstormed idea, the writer is able to see additional possibilities worth expanding. The process can also bring clarity to what elements are most important.