Writing Tip: How a strategic break helps get better results

July 12, 2012

Facilitators who guide groups in brainstorming sessions have something to teach writers who want to save time and energy.  A  facilitator breaks a brainstorming session into two distinct tasks:  generating ideas and choosing which ideas to keep.  A professional facilitator always calls for a break between the two tasks. 

A break after the expenditure of energy to generate ideas seems natural to participants, but it is much more than that to the facilitator.  The break is essential.  It is deliberately placed to allow participants to shift gears.  The break helps participants to disengage the generative, creative portion of the brain and to engage the critical, judgmental portion of the brain.

To do your best work on any writing project, follow the same procedure.  First, generate as many ideas as you can without judging them.  When you’ve finished, grab a cup of coffee, make a phone call, or take a walk.  When you come back to your project, evaluate your ideas critically.  Which ideas and examples are strongest? Which ones have power to persuade your target audience? 

Cut away all but the best ideas.  Then spend your energy refining those ideas and getting the words just right.