I need a better name for this process

This week I’m expanding on a piece from a past Creativity Blast newsletter from last year.

“Mind storming”* is what I call my combination of mind mapping and brain storming.

It’s a non-linear, visual way of generating ideas, forging connections, and even defining obstacles.

*[It’s also not a fantastic name, especially since there is a cool hi-tech company out there with the same name but as one word. If you have a better idea for the name of this process, please let me know in comments! Idea scrambling? Doodle design? Scribble thinking?]

Traditional brain storming has somewhat fallen out of favor. Studies show that avoiding all judgment of the suggested ideas and writing them all down for consideration as if they were equally useful, can end up wasting a lot of time in business situations. Apparently, keeping a certain amount of self-editing is better in group situations. However in a creativity practice, there is no knowing what one silly idea might spark. Seems to me that brain storming is how groups make lists.

Mind or idea mapping often starts with a central word or concept, with spokes travelling outward. The spokes can then branch to create the feeling of a web. It’s primarily used for business group situations, where it is important that everyone understand the process and results. But it can be used for personal issues also.

Here’s a nice presentation intro to the concept.

For me mind storming is more fluid that this. Usually I am working on a problem individually. But the visual appearance is very similar. I guess I would say I get a bit messier.

Start with a sheet of paper and list projects, needs, or goals with lots of space around them. Keep a couple of different colors of pen, or  a highlighter, handy. Draw lines to “thought bubbles”, write down as many words or phrases that the original idea inspires as possible, use circles and squiggles to focus on the next key idea. Write along the lines if you want.

Use sweeping arrows, in color if you want, to draw attention to connections between ideas that are part of different projects. I also like to star notions that strike me as important.

Highlight the first step you will now take towards completing your project.

What Next?

The mind storm is only the first step. It is crucial to then turn your insights into step-by-step actions, written down more formally, (which is where what I am doing here diverges from mind mapping). On line I use Work Flowy. It can be layered – with broad goals divided into intermediate steps, and then those divided in turn. Plus you can click and add notes, as well as dates for taking action.

However you can also handwrite or type a to do list. (Remember lists!) Are you going to allot times, or add due dates to your to do list for added motivation?

Additional Idea: storm around a sketch

I have some very early stage plans for large scale figurative sculptures. They will be cloth over armatures and painted and embroidered. I started with sketches in pencil, and added words, starred points, scribbles and notes. These early sketches are certainly not “finished”, and leave plenty of room for adaptation. I will make more detailed colored sketches, as well as source inspiration and collect ephemera, before embarking on the actual sculptures. But in the meantime I can feel free to scribble, mark up, and attach all over the existing “first draft” idea.

Sculpture Sketch - Robyn Coburn
The Beginnings of a idea with added scribbles. This is unfinished. There will be a lot more added to this sketch before I move on to a more definitive visual plan for this sculpture.

Here’s a Recent Example

I was sitting in a Chili’s with my husband eating lunch, and I started to admire the simple, graphic art work around the restaurant. I noticed that it fitted both the decor (visually) and the Southwestern lifestyle theme of the place. Another restaurant chain that is notable for its specific art in the decor is California Pizza Kitchen. My local one has recently changed the art.

CPK Pizza Box Art
CPK Decorative Art – This is the older style – made from the pizza boxes

It occurred to me that someone must design and create the artwork that is featured in public businesses like chain restaurants. It’s a niche to be sure, and likely a totally different process than the creation of gallery style artworks as hung in small local coffee shops. What if I wanted to design art work for restaurants?

Mind storm for art idea

Which I then turned into this list:

Market Research:

  • A. Define market – Types of restaurants (Journals) – Numbers
  • B. Look for new chains – start ups — ground floor idea – Match aesthetics (architecture and design)
  • C. Look at restaurants to get a feel for it.

Product Development

  1. Research Psychology of hunger & food – especially color
  2. Look at Pantone color trend forecast
  3. Choose aesthetic themes & color ways
  4. Create Prototype in different styles for portfolio
  5. Develop portfolio of art works
  6. Create and online gallery with the right outlet
  7. Secure representation with an agent or corporate art dealer [*Research; One sheet; Letters or emails]
  8. Market self to interior design firms & architects

Other Marketing

  • A. Articles for magazines – research
  • B. Guest Blog
  • C. Media outlets?

Notes: Use Research to create articles and pitches – Go Online for magazine lists ~~

    • Gourmet
    • architecture
    • commercial interior design
    • psychology
    • art & design
    • food business journals

Upsell artwork  – for cards, souvenirs, merchandise

Notice how little of this list is actual art making (sigh) – which would probably be the most time consuming part. I would keep the “storm page” along with the list, because the highlighted parts are aspects of the project that struck me as core, but those may change with time.
I could make a mind storm for each part of the process also. And it can be tempting to keep on storming forever – at some point you have to actually start acting on the steps you have defined.
I haven’t put times or deadlines on this yet. It will have to be a back burner project for the time being. But when the time is right, at least my plan will be ready!

#TryItTuesday: Got an old project idea set aside? Storm it with colored markers for new ideas

#WritingWednesday: Memoir memory stimulus – center the event then storm in details, people, place, feelings

#FridayFun: Storm something then cut up the words – toss them on a table and see how they land. Any new ideas?