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A good way to tap into your creativity is through brainstorming. The idea behind brainstorming is to set a problem and then allow your mind to search for solutions it normally wouldn't come up with.

Set the problem: Start by defining the issue. Do you want to figure out a better setting for your love scene, create a new character, or elevate a line of dialogue? Frame the problem with a question, such as, "How many different ways can Joe insult Terry?" or "Knowing everything I know about Jake, where would he take Susan on a date if he's trying to impress her?" And then allow yourself to come up with answers.

Quantity, not quality: Focus on generating as many ideas as you can without worrying about their quality. In brainstorming, anything goes. Switch off the internal judge, and let the ideas run wild. Write whatever comes to you, no matter how goofy or shocking. Go overboard. You can always throw it away or scale it back later. Only by giving yourself this freedom will you come up with stuff you never dreamed of.

Keep at it for as long as you can. As screenwriter Susannah Farrow puts it, "Brainstorm till it hurts. The first idea you come up with is rarely the best one, the right one, or the most compelling one." Sometimes it takes one hundred bad ideas to come up with one good one. If you feel awkward at first, it's because you're still judging. It usually takes a minimum of 20 minutes in the beginning before you really shut off your internal critic. The more you brainstorm, the better you'll get at generating results.

Brainstorm with a partner. Sometimes two heads are better than one. Give each other complete freedom to say anything. Once you get all your ideas down, play around with combining them in new and provocative ways.



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