Although brainstorming is generally considered to be a group creativity technique, it can be used individually to generate ideas. If you decide to use this technique, I suggest that you adapt the rules along the lines indicated in Box 1 and think in terms of three separate sessions.
Box 1 Approach to brainstorming adapted for personal use
Rule 1: do not criticise
(Self) criticism can be a significant inhibitor to creativity and as much a demotivator for the individual as it is for a group. Reserve the criticism of your ideas for Session 3, which is devoted to evaluation.
Rule 2: work for quantity
The more ideas you produce, the more likely you are to generate some good ones.
Rule 3: encourage your mind to freewheel
The most outlandish thoughts can sometimes be the trigger for a practical idea.
Rule 4: try to imagine what suggestions others might make
If you put yourself into another person’s shoes you can often see the problem from a different viewpoint.
Rule 5: record all ideas
This can be done by hand or electronically; sit down with a large sheet of paper (A3 or larger) or use an app. Write everything down, even your most fleeting or seemingly ridiculous thoughts. When you have exhausted your creative energy it is a good idea to stick your sheet of paper on a wall or set it as your screen saver where it will be visible.
Rule 6: build on ideas
You can use the concept of building on ideas during Session 1, but it is often better to let the ideas that you have generated ‘mature’ in the back of your mind for several days. You can then come to the ideas afresh, play with each in turn, look at them from another viewpoint, combine them, and so on. As such, this will become an iterative process, where new ideas build on old ones and old ideas are adapted to take account of new ones.
Rule 7: reduce your list
The first two sessions were concerned with expansion, this one concentrates on contraction. The aim is to carry forward two or three ideas that are worth further detailed work and consideration.