Brainstorming Techniques

Starting to write a term paper, inventing the next big thing and even writing this article likely all begin at the same place: brainstorming. This technique is used to obtain a large number of ideas in a small amount of time. Ideas are noted, without criticism, and sorted out later. There are different techniques for brainstorming, and each can be used to refine or expand on a topic.

  1. Posting

    • To practice the posting technique, write down two headings for lists. These could be "pros" and "cons," "likes" and dislikes" or "cause" and "effect." Next, begin to write under the headings. For example, when determining the pros and cons of living in an apartment, you would write "no maintenance," "freedom to relocate after lease is up" and "no loan required" under pros. Cons might include "cannot paint walls," "noisy neighbors" and "lack of parking."


    • To freewrite, decide whether you will set a time constraint or a space constraint. For a time constraint, decide to write for 10 minutes. Set a timer and write continually for 10 minutes. Do not stop, even when you think you are writing about nothing of consequence. To set a space limit, set out one or two pieces of paper. When these are full, you are finished with the exercise.


    • Bulleting is useful when you are trying to expand upon a topic. For example, you are trying to come up with milkshake flavors. Begin to list each type of milkshake on a separate line. For example:

      Milkshake Flavors
      Peanut Butter


    • Begin by writing your idea in the center of a piece of paper. In this example, you will be deciding on a hotel where you would like to stay. Write "hotel" in the center of the paper. Draw a line outward from "hotel" and write the name of a hotel where you might like to stay, for example, "Hampton" or "Marriott." Draw a line from each hotel name and write the word "amenities." From there, jot down the names of things you enjoy at the hotel, such as the pool, fitness center or restaurant options. Draw another line from the hotel name and write "cost." Draw a line from the word cost and fill in the price of the room. Continue these steps for each topic you wish to consider.

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