Techniques

Brainstorming a Writing Project
The whole idea of “brainstorming” is to get ideas on paper. No particular order or structure, just get them ideas down. All you need is a quiet room, a clock, and pencil and paper. The procedure is simple: think about the subject and write down every idea that pops into your head within a set time. The technique was devised years ago by Alex Osborne as a means of attacking problems or questions from all sides. Here are the guidelines for a brainstorming session:


Don’t criticize or evaluate ideas during the session

  • Use your imagination to do some “free wheeling” thinking. No idea is too wild.

  • Strive for quantity – the more the better.

  • Combine and build the ideas, improve them as you proceed.

Write down all the ideas immediately!

Storyboarding
Here’s another technique used very successfully in the business world for a variety of tasks. Clearly, anything that can be done to speed up the content-writing phase for documentation is to be welcomed. Frequently, adopting some or all of the storyboarding techniques can help.

A storyboard can reduce the time required to produce product specification documentation, production and marketing briefs, and various other business publications. The benefits rest primarily in organizing the mechanics of the documents, and integrating ideas and required information elements. The storyboard enables decisions to be made at an early stage on the outline, presentation, graphics, image size and resolution, and promotes a better understanding of the overall project requirements.

Storyboarding is a good process for the initial engagement of individuals, and for assessing and valuating their prior knowledge and expertise on the topic. To initiate the process, formulate a series of questions, pose them sequentially to the group, and then encourage participants to share their individual ideas – brainstorming. Record the ideas via a briefing board, notepad, recorder, or some brand of stick-it notes – whatever will provide a working record. Next, of course, the ideas must be sorted, clustered, and categorized within small or topical groups. The process is from 45-90 minutes in length, depending on the size of the group and subgroups.

Storyboarding is responsive to the following:

  • Assessing knowledge, needs, interests, attitudes,
  • Building a common vocabulary for the project,
  • Building consensus,
  • Collecting and analyzing information,
  • Reflecting on practice,
  • Starting conversations and dialogue, and
  • Tapping knowledge and beliefs.

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