Begin a Discovery Draft by Brainstorming a List

Staring at the blank page, waiting for some thought to come into your mind so you can write it down, can be an unnerving and discouraging activity. Yet, this is an experience common to all writers. Don’t allow yourself to feel defeated. Try this activity instead. It has the potential to breathe new life into your writing.

Make a List

Start your writing session by brainstorming on the topic of your choice. It can be an aspect of a current project, the beginning of a new project, or a free write. Write down every idea that comes to your mind as you think about the topic. Allow yourself the freedom to explore seemingly unrelated thoughts. Don’t restrict this process.

Try this tip next. Write your list in paragraph format. This gives you a feel for how your ideas connect. It also reinforces that you are preparing to write – you are going to the grocery store with your list.

Finally, read over your list when you are done. Here’s what you are looking for. Ask yourself some thoughtful questions:

What surprises me?

What doesn’t seem to fit on the list?

What makes you think about your topic in a different way?

Where do i see conflict?

Pick a question to answer and start writing from here. This material will be fresh for you. Writing about it will energize you. You’ll start writing with a new perspective. You now have something to say.

Example Activity

I’ve included as an example the activity we did at our last gathering. We have received a word of the Lord that we are to write from a perspective of justice. We took the time to do this pre-writing activity together in order to get a sense of what this means for our writing.

Here’s how we did it. We first read Chap. 11 from The Shack by William Young. This chapter addresses the issue of divine justice. We then brainstormed our individual lists. Finally, we went back over our list, highlighted what surprised us, and shared these items with each other.

Here’s my list. I’ve highlighted those terms that stood out to me.

Mercy – Judgment

mercy … judgment … sin … forgiveness … love … the Father’s heart … the blood of Jesus … lost world … hurting souls … the way forward … the kingdom advancing … revival … the enemy defeated … worship and prayer … harp and bowl … compassion … wisdom … righteousness … free will … independence … dependence … freedom … responsibility … pain and suffering … healing … they just don’t know another way … repentance … evil … goodness … love is the skin of knowledge … love fills in the space created by the growth in our knowledge (of God, of others, of understanding) … transformation = our capacity to love … what is at the core of our message? … what is our worldview? … what is the sound of our voice? … how will others recognize our voice?

Extension Activity

From this activity, I’ve written a mission statement that describes the worldview that I seek to represent in all my writing. This mission statement has made a significant contribution to hearing my writing voice.

I’ve included my worldview mission statement below:

I write to reveal a way forward, to describe a future that exists in the heart of the Father but has yet to become manifest.

I write to facilitate growth in the knowledge of God, and each other, for the purpose of increasing our capacity to love.

Try this activity.

Let me know how it works for you.