9 Brainstorming Techniques for Creative Business Writing

Brainstorming is a crucial aspect of any creative process, whether you’re writing copy or creating a new product. Although the original definition of a brainstorm is a collaboration of ideas, the term has since become a colloquial that means any sort of creative planning, whether it’s done in a group or independently.

The main goal of any copywriting brainstorming session is to come up with a successful idea that suits your particular business needs. You don’t have to be an expert copywriter (or even a writer at all) to come up with creative solutions to your marketing dilemmas–you just need to follow the basic techniques of brainstorming.

Know Your Purpose and Set Goals

Before you can even begin brainstorming any ideas, you have to figure out what you want to accomplish from your business writing. Are you trying to promote a new product or service? Do you want to try and attract a certain type of customer? Know what you want to accomplish so that your ideas will better work towards reaching your goals.

You’re not going to come out of a brainstorming session with a fully realized concept complete with copy and media–but that’s not the point. The point is to come up with a number of smart ideas which you can later build upon.

Freethinking and Pre-Planning

Even if the bulk majority of your brainstorming is going to happen during a group meeting, you still need to come to that meeting already prepared with some ideas ready to go. The pre-planning phase is just as important; in this part of the brainstorming process, it’s all about you.

Use a pad of paper or wipeboard to jot down any idea that comes to mind–and that means any. Your goal is not to come up with a fully developed idea right away but to build towards something amazing by letting your ideas flow freely. When you’re done, take a look at what you’ve come up with and you’ll have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t before you even attempt a group brainstorm.

Use Your Senses

When you talk about a product or service in your copy, you’re not just trying to hand out information– you’re trying to produce an emotional response. One of the best ways to do this is to use sensory imagery in your copywriting. We all know that Brand X is the most powerful product of its kind-but how does it smell? How does it feel? Can you hear it, and if so, what does it sound like?

Make a list of all the sensory aspects of your product or service to find words and phrases that invoke a particular emotional response. Applying a sensory technique to copywriting will allow you to look at your product or service in a completely new light.

Separate Ideas

When you discover a good, strong concept to tie to your business writing, write it down on a notecard or slip of paper. When you discover another concept, give that idea its own notecard. If you have a good idea that’s actually two concepts combined into one, separate these ideas and put them on their own notecards. At the end of the process, you’ll have a number of different usable copy aspects that you can now mix and match to come up with something even better, much like refrigerator magnet poetry.

Allow Wild Ideas to Develop

You have to be willing to let wild ideas develop on their own, whether you’re coming up with ideas by yourself or brainstorming with a group. In order for creativity to thrive, it must be given room to breathe, which won’t happen if ideas are constantly being rejected. Even your weirdest, craziest and downright ludicrous ideas have a place in the brainstorming process. These ideas may never come to fruition, but they may provide the groundwork for an even better idea in the future.

Criticism Comes Later

Not only should ideas be left to run wild during the brainstorming phase, but criticism should be left out of the equation entirely. This means both rejecting the ideas that you don’t like and trying to change good ideas that others have come up with in an effort to improve them.

Brainstorming is about getting your rough ideas out there; taking time to tweak and change every idea is counter to what you want to accomplish. You should wait until the brainstorming session is finished and then go back to figure out what needs tweaking.

Set a Time Limit

The easiest way to know when the brainstorming session has ended is to set a strict time limit. Putting the pressure of the clock on you makes you more likely to come up with rapid-fire ideas and less likely to stop and critique ideas. That doesn’t mean you should give up on finding the right idea if it doesn’t come to you in X amount of minutes–don’t forget that you can always come back to brainstorming after everyone’s had a chance to rethink and regroup. Setting a time limit just keeps you on task and helps you know when to stop brainstorming and start developing and critiquing ideas.

Get Others Involved

Business writing brainstorm sessions do not have to be exclusive to copywriters–they should involve anyone who can provide valuable input. Graphic designers are good to include because chances are your copy will need a graphic representation to tie it all together. Your social media staff and sales department are the ones who interact with customers on a daily basis, so they can offer a unique perspective on what customers are looking for. Hearing different ideas and input will open the door to new solutions and creative ideas that will bring out the best in your writing.

Save Rejected Ideas

You can often only pick one idea in the end, which means a lot of great concepts end up going unused. Save these unused ideas–you never know when they might be put to use at a later time or when they might serve as inspiration for another great idea. However, this doesn’t mean you should always rely on your old ideas to be successful. When a new brainstorming session begins, pick some of the best ideas from the last session to get the ball rolling, but focus on coming up with something new. If an old idea really is the best choice, you’ll discover it once you sit down to look at your ideas in closer detail.

These are just a few of the thousands of different techniques that you can use to brainstorm creative copywriting ideas, so find what works best for you. Maybe you find your team works best under pressure of a deadline or that it takes a little pizza to get everyone in a creative mood. The end goal is to create valuable copy that attracts customers to your business–however you get there is entirely up to you.

10 Best Creative Writing Prompts

You get better at any skill through practice, and creative writing prompts are a great way to practice writing.

At the end of every article on The Write Practice, we include a writing prompt so you can put what you just learned to use immediately. And we invite you to share your writing with our community so you can get feedback on your work.

The Write Practice is more than just a writing blog. It’s a writing workbook, and we think it’s the best one on the Internet (of course, we’re a bit biased).

Our Most Popular Creative Writing Prompts

Sometimes, though, you just want to get straight into writing, and so we’ve created this list of some of our most popular writing prompts.

Why not try using two or three in your writing today? Who knows, you might even write begin something that becomes your next novel or short. It’s happened to Write Practice readers before!

Enjoy the list!

1. Grandfathers

2. Sleepless

3. Out of Place

4. Longing

5. Write About Yourself

6. Three Reasons to Write About Ghosts

7. Road Trip

8. Morning

9. The Beach

10. Fall

What Types of Creative Writing Prompts Work Best for Kids?

Kids who love to write may be off and running once the pen hits their hand, but other children might not feel comfortable writing unless given a few creative writing prompts. Creative prompts encourage imagination and provide a jumping off point for journal entries and stories. Even children who love to write may find it easier to work from a prompt because it gives them an area of focus – and it’s fun! As a parent, one of the best ways to encourage your child’s love of the written word is to promote writing every day, such as with a daily writing prompt. Below are some of the best types of creative writing prompts that work especially well for kids.

1. Use Prompts Based on Topics Kids Love

Think back to what you loved as a kid. Creative writing prompts based on animals, superpowers, and other topics that your children love to chatter about are bound to bring about a great deal of creative writing. Set up the prompt to encourage creativity – this gives them permission to write an unconventional story. For instance: “Imagine being your favorite dinosaur. Write about your wildest adventure during a day in the life of that dinosaur.” Using prompts with silly scenarios will set the tone for using imagination.

2. Select Topics They Can Understand

The best creative writing prompts for kids encourage them to come up with unique, well-thought-out ideas and scenes. When your child is confused by the prompt, it may be more difficult for him or her to dive in. Instead, encourage creativity by choosing an age-appropriate topic. Creative writing that turns into a research topic may hinder imagination. Set children up for success by making sure they understand the prompt, but encourage them to ask questions about the prompt before they begin in case there is any confusion.

3. Avoid Being Too Specific

The best creative writing prompts for kids are open-ended, so that the writers can feel free to take the story in any direction. For instance, in our dinosaur example above, your kids could write about a dinosaur who gets into a conflict with other dinosaurs, gets lost in the woods, or learns to fly – anything can happen! While crafting writing prompts for kids, provide just enough details to afford general direction without leading the child to feel as though they are expected to take their tale along a certain storyline.

4. Encourage Free Writing

Free writing can be helpful for kids who have already taken to the art of writing. Free writing simply requires a timer and a few words to start with. In fact, creative writing prompts that focus on free writing may begin with only a single word! You could simply write the word “dinosaur” on the page and ask your child to write freely about dinosaurs. Facts they know about dinosaurs, why they are afraid of them, what a T-Rex looks like, or a story that involves a velociraptor – these are all fair game! With free writing, the goal is simply to keep writing with no interruption until the timer goes off. For a child who needs less direction, free writing as a prompt will allow an opportunity for unbounded creativity. Once the free writing session is over, encourage your kids to look back at their work and identify parts that could make for the start of a great short story.

Of course, creative writing prompts are just the beginning! Encourage your kids to write every day and come up with new and exciting storylines that allow them to express themselves. In time, they may come up with their very own prompts for friends and siblings!

Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire You to Write

Writing prompts are a useful tool and resource for any writer, from beginners to published authors. A good prompt can give you the inspiration you need to craft a paragraph, a book, or an entire series. You can also use them just for writing practice and to get your creative juices flowing.

For more on what writing prompts can do for you, read our post about how writing prompts can boost your creative writing skills.

See where these ideas take you.

Fantasy Writing Prompts

  1.  
    1. In your character’s world, only strong magic–users are allowed to survive past their 13th birthday. Your character has no magical ability—but even at 11 years old, they’ve discovered a way to fake it.
    1. Your character is granted one day in the land of the dead to retrieve their deceased beloved, only to discover that their one true love faked death to escape marriage.
    1. A mysterious statue appears in the forest that makes perfect duplicates of any human being that touches it. Your character is one such duplicate—and your “sponsor-body” is wanted for murder.
    1. Your character is a witch-hunter, tasked to track down and slay a powerful target—who is currently pregnant with your character’s child.
    1. A monster emerges from the forest and forces your character to care for its newborn offspring, which begins to look more human the longer your character cares for it.
    1. Your character is one of a species of sea creatures that inhabit the very deepest part of the ocean. This species has created an advanced civilization—and they’re getting ready to break the surface and take their rightful place as Earth’s rulers, with your character at the helm.
    1. Your character discovers that a certain mythical being is real—and they’re about to go extinct.
    1. Your character falls in love with a magical being. To keep their love alive, your character has to fight not only their family, but their entire race.

Historical Fiction Writing Prompts

  1.  
    1. Your character is the daughter of a poor clergyman in mid-19th-century England. Without a dowry, she has little chance for marriage. Without a husband, she’s doomed to a spinster’s life as a governess or servant. In 1854 she joins Florence Nightingale’s group of female nurses bound for the Crimean Peninsula, where she discovers that the hell of war extends into the hospital at Scutari.
    1. Your character is an artisan in 12th-century Ireland at Clonmacnoise, a monastery that anchored a wealthy community of art, learning, and craftsmanship on the Shannon River. Medieval life is good in this beautiful town … until the Vikings arrive.
    1. England, 1776: A young astronomer has receives the job of a lifetime: traveling with the famous Captain Cook on his voyage to discover the fabled Northwest Passage. After the rigorous journey takes the crew from Tahiti to Siberia, damage to the ship’s mast forces a stop for repairs in Hawaii. Turns out the natives aren’t as friendly as they thought.
    1. Your character is one of the hundreds of thousands of craftsman tasked with creating the terracotta army in ancient China. He molds each soldier’s face after someone he knows: his father, his grandfather, a friend from his village, etc., and thinks about their lives and legacies as he works.
    1. Research the history of your own city or town. Imagine you lived there 50, 100, or even 200 years ago. What would your life have been like?

Horror/Thriller Writing Prompts

  1.  
    1. Your character has a stalker with the ability to stop time. The stalker uses this ability to manipulate your character—and their efforts are escalating.
    1. Your character’s lover died in a horrible accident—but one day they simply return, and nobody but your character remembers that they died.
    1. Your character and their college friends attend their first off-campus party, and discover too late that the fraternity throwing the bash is a cult—and very serious about the concept of brotherhood.
    1. Your character is marooned on a tiny desert island. One morning, an idol appears outside their shelter’s front door. It’s stone—except for the real human head on top.
    1. Your character’s family moves into a new house with an in-ground pool that the previous owners paved over. At night, your character can hear something screaming beneath the concrete—something that isn’t human.
    1. Your character’s neighbor is an older man who mostly keeps to himself; your character often sees him taking walks or puttering around his garden. But when your character knocks on the old man’s door to invite him to a block party, things take a turn for the sinister.
    1. Your character is a mobile phone. The phone has just been purchased by a woman who turns out to be a criminal mastermind.
    1. Your character is a regular office clerk who just discovered that your company is brainwashing its employees. The goal of the company is menacing.
    1. Your character is on their way to work when they get stuck in a massive traffic jam. Suddenly, in the distance, there is a huge explosion.
    1. Your character is a serial killer, confessing to his crimes.
    1. Your character is at a Halloween party at a bar. Everyone is in costume when a man suddenly drops dead.
    1. Your character is out for a jog early in the morning, trips, and loses consciousness. When they wake up, they are in a morgue surrounded by dead and dissected bodies.

Mystery Writing Prompts

  1.  
    1. A powerful pharmaceutical company recently released a new drug to market that dampens the arousal response in human beings. Your character is a private detective brought in to solve an unusual murder. The weapon? A lethal dose of this new drug, which was previously thought to be harmless.
    1. Your character’s child has been bringing home peculiar drawings from school for the past two weeks. Your character thinks nothing of it, until they realize that each drawing corresponds to one in a series of brutal murders that have plagued their tiny town.
    1. A marine zoologist is vacationing on a beach in a foreign country when they read about a local political figure who was killed in a shark attack. But from the photos, your character realizes that no shark made those puncture marks on the victim’s stomach—and that the accident may have, in fact, been murder most foul.
    1. A young police detective must find the kidnapped daughter of a powerful city planner. The hitch? She was at a Star Trek convention when she was kidnapped, and the only description of the culprit is that he “looked like Mr. Spock.”
    1. After taking a DNA test, your character discovers that their genetic material was altered in the womb. But your character was adopted, and has no records of who their birth parents are, or where they were born.
    1. Your character has been happily married to their partner for 25 years. But one day, a mysterious stranger shows up claiming to be your partner’s spouse and demanding to know what your character is doing in this stranger’s home.
    1. Your character is a retired military officer who is ready to leave his past behind him. One day, you accidentally walk in on a bank robbery in progress—and these aren’t ordinary criminals.
    1. Your character finds out that their deceased twin had multiple passports IDs with different names and faces. To find out more, your character must assume these identities in his place.
    1. Your character, an important New York businessperson, wakes up naked and alone in a strange, foreign land, with no recollection of how you got there. The native people take you in, but you don’t speak their language and know nothing about the culture. You must learn to communicate in order to get home.

Romance Writing Prompts

  1.  
    1. After moving into a new house, your character begins to receive love letters addressed to the previous occupant. The letters have no return address, but they are so beautifully written that your character begins to fall in love with the writer, despite never having met the author.
    1. Your character is the first person in history to fall in love. They cannot describe the feeling to anybody else, especially not the person for whom they’ve fallen head over heels.
    1. Your characters have been married for over 700 years; when they die, they are reincarnated with all their memories, and simply find each other again.
    1. When your character’s country loses a long war, your character is tasked with negotiating the surrender. The person across the table holds the fate of both countries in their hands … and they’re pretty darn cute, too.
    1. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. The catch? Their parents are engaged to be married!
    1. Your character is a teenager who writes short, fictional romance stories and posts them to a blog that they believe no one reads. One day, a fan starts responding to the stories, and your character connects with the fan on many levels, creating their own idealized, fictional romance story online. Now, they must decide whether they’re willing to let go of their “perfect” love story to meet the real (and inevitably, imperfect) person on the other side of the screen.
    1. Your character was born deaf and your character’s spouse was just involved in an accident that made them blind. After being together for six years, they must re-learn how to navigate the world together.
    1. Your character has a mental condition that landed them in a rehab facility. There, your character meets a recovering addict, and they connect instantly and begin to find healing in each other.
    1. Your character dreams of a person they’ve never met and wakes up convinced it is their true love.
    1. Your character shows up for an interview for their dream job, and discovers that their could-be boss is also their ex.

Science Fiction Writing Prompts

  1.  
    1. Your character wakes up on a slab in a high-tech medical facility, hooked up to strange machines and occupying a body you don’t recognize. Before the doctors arrive, you hear a voice in your head: it’s your new body’s original owner, and they want it back.
    1. The aliens that land in your backyard strike a deal with your character: Murder one innocent person on the planet, and they will spare the earth. Refuse, or reveal the aliens’ existence to the world, and the planet is doomed.
    1. Your character is captain of a long-distance spaceship taking thousands of Earthling colonists to a new planet. One day, completely by accident, you discover what this spaceship uses for fuel, and are faced with a terrible moral dilemma of how to handle this information.
    1. Your main character is the warden of a virtual-reality prison. One day, a notorious murderer attempts to orchestrate a “breakout.”
    1. Your character is a child whose stuffed toy comes equipped with a nanny-cam and primitive AI. One day, the toy decides to take your character’s safety into its own mitten-like hands.
    1. Your character is an average college student. Somehow, your character discovers that everything they’re doing—every movement they make and every word they say, even in private—is being tracked and recorded. Now they must figure out who is recording and why—without the recorder knowing what they’re doing.
    1. Your character washes up on a remote island that has never been visited by an outsider before. Turns out, there’s a whole civilization there—but these “people” have been isolated for so long, they’ve evolved differently than people in the rest of the world.
    1. Your character is a troubled teenager who discovers that he has the power to see people’s futures by touching them. When you accidentally bump into a man on the subway, you see the man piloting a spaceship—and it’s moving towards your city. Now, you must find the man—and convince everyone else that the danger is real.