Sifting Through the Colorful Mess of a Brainstorm

This is a post that I wrote for Smack Dab in the Middle blog's April 2016 theme on brainstorming:

Brainstorming is messy. Here is a small example of what mine look like:

This was a brainstorm for a picture book that I was working on a while back. By the time I come to this stage, I know the basic concept that I’m after, but I need to figure out how to make it come together. For me that includes doodling, using colorful pens, making a mess on paper to get all of the ideas out of my brain, and to generate new ideas and connections that I hadn’t been considering. Then it’s a process of sifting through the mess to find something cohesive that will stick together. Something that might someday become a book. That’s what happened with this brainstorm. After a long wait and many versions, those messy brainstorm notes became a picture book that released earlier this year called THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO GOBBLED A SKINK. It’s from Sky Pony Press and illustrated by Ana Bermejo.

I know this isn’t the right process for everyone, but it’s the one that works for me whether I’m brainstorming a picture book, a single poem, or a middle grade novel. I’d love to know your brainstorming process. What works for you?


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