One of my Clarion buddies had a very piratical wooden trunk in which he kept a huge number of cards. On each card was written a word or phrase he found evocative in some way. When he was stuck (as many writers do become from time to time), he would reach into the trunk, rummage around for a second, and withdraw three cards. He said he wouldn't always, or even often, choose to write using those specific words, but he did find the whole operation useful for unsticking his Writer Brain.

Another Clarion buddy, Jason, tells us of a web-based equivalent (about which he originally heard from Aidan, who was on the Clarion after ours). It's called "The Brainstormer," and you can find it here. You can also find a few other ideas Aidan has about lateral thinking and writers here.

I confess I'm not a big fan of the phrase "lateral thinking," nor of the overused-past-the-point-of-fatuousness "thinking outside the box." I much prefer what I consider a more accurate description of what is going on: "intuition." Or perhaps it's a variant of what Kelly Link calls "dream logic": at a deep-enough level, events, artifacts, and insights can form connections that seem to make no sense and yet are intensely satisfying and truthful.

And with that, I return to work on a short story that so far lacks these connections. But I trust my Writer Brain, my intuition, whatever it is in me, or around me, that calls me toward the story again and again.


At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Aidan said...

Thanks for the link Laura.

Going to have to disagree with you over the terminology, to me intuition has a different connotation. :-)

I don't like the term "thinking outside the box" either, but I think lateral thinking is a good term to describe the tools that de Bono outlines.


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