Some days, my train of thought is a bullet train, whizzing past all kinds of ideas, while other days, I feel like the Little Engine That (barely) Could. But no matter what, I write down every what-if, every maybe, and every piece of thought that passes through the landscape of my mind.
My notes often read like this: Maybe she can do this and that means that so-and-so has to already be there, but wait, no, that can't work because I have to introduce the guy with the cupcakes and trained monkey . . . (well, sort of like that).
That's pretty much how it goes. I write down everything that comes to mind. I call it my Train in a Hurricane. It's my chance to get away from the incessant glow of my laptop screen and away from Blank Word Doc Anxiety, and write up a storm. If I don't get these thoughts and ideas out, they can get lost and forgotten, like a note thrown from the window of a speeding train.
After months of struggling with coming up with my next novel, I finally had a break through by using my tried-and-true method; I have my idea. In the wake of this two-day brainstorm, my characters and plot have emerged into the clearing, a little ragged from the storm, but ready to go.
I know some writers can't fathom going old school and using this method, but if you're one of those, I urge you to give it a try. Pick up a pencil, grab some paper, and board your train of thought---it could be a real fun (and productive) ride.
How do you brainstorm?