There I was, sailing along. Writing, writing, writing. In the creative flow like a muther.
Until I wasn’t anymore. The ideas were as rare as as ice cream truck in December.
No matter what I tried to write-it all sucked.
I recently studied at The Second City comedy theater in Chicago. I learned a ton from them about how to be a comedic genius in a constant state of flow. OK, not exactly. But I did learn a ton about how to help it along.
The first thing I want to tell you about is how to get ideas. This brainstorming tip I have for you is BRILL-IANT. No more barren, boring, terrible writing ideas for you.
This technique generates a good amount of ridiculousness which takes so much pressure off. It takes your normal brain patterns and shakes them all up creating some delicious story options.
Second City’s #1 secret for endless story ideas
This is called the “pad set.” Improvisational actors use it to generate material. They collaborate with a live audience to fill in the 4 boxes, then they create sketches based on these prompts.
Here’s how you can adapt it for your own writing:
Draw a line down the middle of your page horizontally. Draw another one through it vertically. You’ll have 4 boxes.
In the first box, make a list of 4 or 5 relationships:
2 firefighters, truck driver and hitchhiker, mother and son, cop and criminal, 2 people on a first date, etc.
In the second box, make a list of items you’ll find in a junk drawer
birthday candles, extension cord, spare change, an ice pick, twist ties, etc.
In the third box, make a list of places that would fit on a stage
jail cell, front porch, hot tub, bus stop, photography studio, etc.
In the fourth box, make a list of current events or happenings
presidential election, bad storm last night, Eva Mendes’ pregnancy, the Oscar’s, new restaurant that just opened, etc.
Pick 1 item from the relationship box and 1 from one of the other boxes.
2 firefighters at a photography studio, 2 people on a first date and the Oscar’s, truck driver/hitchhiker and birthday candles, etc.
This is your starting point.
You could write a story about 2 firefighters in a photography studio for a firefighter of the month calendar shoot.
You could write a blog post called “What Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling Baby Announcement Can Teach You About Launching.”
You could write a personal essay about a terrible first date and use a porch as the setting for one of your scenes.
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