Parting from Linear Brainstorming

I am a very linear person. I think in the form of plans rather than abstract ideas. I like to lay out the steps of how I am going to reach a goal. It is often very hard for me to extract myself from the grasp of a line.

But the other day as I lay in the snow after an exhausting and fun bit of sledding in the horse pasture, I started thinking about my story. You know the one I am finally attempting to write down in that notebook? Well so far I’ve been writing in a very linear fashion. Yet as I lay in the snow basking in its silence, ideas flooded my brain. I kept jumping all around my story’s linear timeline. I wanted to write everything down.

Then I sat down to write and looked at the last sentence I wrote. I could not make myself diverge from the line I had started. I just couldn’t. So I kept that line going, pushing the ideas in my head aside temporarily.

Today, however, as I tried to write a bit while I waited for my computer to start up at work, I started to feel confined, claustrophobic, annoyed with how this brainstorming notebook was progressing. Then I remembered eleventh grade when I took my first writing class: AP English Language and Composition.

We read a little book called The Lively Art of Writing by Lucile Vaughan Payne. For the first time, writing was broken down for me into simple terms. I learned about passive voice, I learned about counterarguments. And in the next literature class I took, I finally got an A on a paper.

That AP class did not just expose me to a great writing book or force me to work on the actual construction of writing, it also introduced me to a form of brainstorming that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I forget what my teacher called these notebooks, but she has us all buy black and white composition books. In those books, we had free rein. We could write, draw, glue images, and basically put anything that inspired us into this book. She had us complete assignments in it, but we also had to fill this notebook with ourselves. She would collect them once in a while to make sure we were doing something, but she never criticized. As the semester progressed, I started to really enjoy having an outlet for the flurry of thoughts racing in my brain. I may like to work linearly, but my brain sure isn’t fashioned that way.

And so this morning as I sat down to my new notebook to pick up the line I had started, I remembered that class and those notebooks full of random thoughts and ideas. So I’ve resolved that my little red notebook will turn into a true brainstorming notebook. This is not where I am going to write my story, it is where I am going to develop my story. I am going to paste photos, sketch thoughts, create webs, forget punctuation, and write what ever comes to my mind.



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