Brainstorming is a big part of coming up with good stories, ideas, characters and places. However, there’s precious little time to do it by most folks’ standards. We have jobs, families, obligations, friends, hobbies, and interests. Carving time out to just think is challenging enough without working out the kinks for writing fiction.
However, take heart. Brainstorming isn’t something you need to cloister yourself away for. The best way I’ve found to brainstorm is Hamster Time.
It doesn’t actually involve a hamster, but it does involve the hamster wheel, metaphorically speaking.
I’m a big, fat Diabetic guy. In order for me to keep things in control, I have to keep my body in working order or things go to hell. What this typically means is that I have to find a way to get my butt moving, and the best way to do that is to go to the gym. When I first started, I didn’t like it. Every part of my being was aware that my body was on fire and that it just wanted the exertion to end. But, after a while, it got bearable. I realized that without a whole lot of effort, I could keep the body moving on the treadmill or elliptical machine (my hamster wheel of choice) while allowing my mind to wander. After a while, I picked up on something pretty cool – when I worked out, it left me a hell of a lot of time to think.
Putting this time in my day accomplishes a two-fer: I keep my body in better working order and I can take the time to muse on any particular aspect of a story that I might have in mind. Sometimes it’s pure idea creation, other times its working out an existing idea until I get it’s inner logic worked out. Sometimes it’s building a character or even a confrontation. I love listening to instrumental pieces in these cases – especially if I’m working out a battle. It’s like transcribing kung fu movies with their own soundtracks.
Given my lack of gym time recently, it’s not surprising that the creative fires banked (and my ass got fatter) a bit in the past year. But with a little luck, I’ll get that hamster wheel rolling, get my Diabetes back under control, and start outputting more (and better) work.