Freewriting / Let the ideas drop in your lap

A warm up routine to help you with ideation.

Freewriting header
A process for getting started with ideation
Wes Kennison

By Wes Kennison

5 min read

The muse he has many names, but no matter what you call them, she only shows up after you’ve rolled up your sleeves and dived in.

 My experience with music is analogous to that of writing in that, not much good happens if you’re not warmed up. You hold the instrument, you play it, and over the course of 15 or 20 minutes your muscles warm up and the instrument begins to resonate through you in a different way and then, on a good day, WHAMMY, the idea vortex opens up and drops something fresh and beautiful in your lap. Who knows what’s actually happening there (maybe?), but one thing is always true on the days when it does, I got out of my own way and let inspiration flow.
“This article will share a process for getting started with ideation, regardless of what the desired outcome is.”
 So often we come to a challenge with an outcome in mind. We get attached to where we want to end up, and in doing so mute the possibilities. What if, even if just for a short time in the early stages, we allowed ourselves to PUT EVERYTHING THAT COMES UP FORWARD. Everything.

We turn off the internal editor (the rigid, often stodgy part of our cognitive make-up responsible for Quality Control) and we just let the shit hit the fan.

 This is what freewriting is. It’s not a list of prompts, it’s the opposite of that. It’s just you and the page and whatever comes up. Does it feel weird when you get going? YES. YES IT DOES. But, If you’ve property muted the internal editor, then you’ve silenced the only critic that can get in the way of this warm up working for you. If you haven’t played around with freewritin, I’ll offer an exploration that might help get the ball rolling (but seriously only step through it once or twice in the interest of letting your own energy flow and take over the process, you’ll see why this is important when it happens for you)
Step 1. Think about the problem you’re solving with your script. What comes up?
Step 2. Think about the audience you’re working for. What comes up?
Step 3. Think about what they NEED. What comes up?
Step 4. Take the 3 sets of ideas you came up with in the above and branch off of each.

A process I use to get things moving.

When the agency concept or campaign idea needs a script.

This is my favorite one and the one where freewriting is most immediately useful. Useful because the words flowing from the freewriting process are going directly into the working script. In a nutshell we’re leveraging the freewriting process to come up with a solid set of outlines. This is a sprint that will take you an hour.
  1. Start with the concept name and write 3 lines to be read by a narrator.
    1. Line 1 is an opening line,
    2. Line 2 is a turning point in the arc where you want the music to hit,
    3. Line 3 is the closing line BEFORE the call to action. Give yourself 25 minutes to do this AS MANY TIMES AS POSSIBLE. Set a timer that you can see while you let the ideas flow. 
  2. Get up and walk away for 5
  3. Come back and spend 25 minutes outlining your script in as many of the above arcs as possible
    1. Line 1 stays the same
    2. Line 2 becomes line 3
    3. Line 3 becomes line 5
    4. Fill in line 2 and 4
    5. Add a CTA
  4. You’ve just freewritten your way to some solid outlines you can add to yourself, or hand off to a copywriter, or feed into a writing robot to water down the great ideas the universe just dropped in your lap because robots can’t feel their way through anything and aren’t aware enough to know that 47% of what they’ve offered is cliche horseshit, BUT I DIGRESS

When the project is in a mushier state conceptually and needs a brief.

Briefs aren’t quite as cut and dry as writing a script, and these days I get regular requests to bid without a proper brief. No judgements, people are busy, but it’s worth noting that if you have a point of view to go along with your request for a proposal you can get a much more surgical scope of work from the artist team you’re engaging with. If the creative is more open ended at the outset I will typically write a brief myself. And though it’s a bit of a
Wes: ::writes creative brief::
type deal it serves us all in the long run. It gives us a ‘single source of truth’ to back check ideas against and galvanizes what we’re doing as a team. I talk a fair amount of silly shit but I’ve made a career out of over-delivering; my chops in both creative headspaces and the executional disciplines that must follow are where I ground all the silliness I put out into the world. If you hire me, the murky shall be clear as a matter of course. Again, I digress.
When writing bigger picture creative briefs and summaries the same approach I detailed above can come in handy too (eg; 2 x 25 minute pushes with a 5 minute break at the end of each), but using a bigger picture framework.

I’m a fan of “Feel, Know, Do”.

What is the feeling I want to accompany the information I need to offer
What will this new information allow them to know, that they didn’t know before
How will this knowing inspire them to take charge and get involved (do).
Answer those questions at least once per 25 minute block, preferably 1.5 so you can be on the other side of the process with 3 different takes. The energetic place when doing this is one of empathy and connection. Because video offers you the ability to be completely in command of the tone you put forward (vs reading a billboard, webpage, or print ad), getting the tone right early sets the stage for everything that follows.
Briefs are tricky, and I’m definitely over simplifying the amount of effort and perspective it takes to reliably deliver solid ideas complete with rationale that can also get people excited. A final tip I’d offer that can be of tremendous benefit is not expecting to write a brief in a single sitting. Take the 4 hours you’ve got and spread them over three days, your subconscious can put in a ton of work for you if you give it the space to do so.
In summary, this entire article can be made into a rare one-liner;

The FEELING of inspired, new ideas follows the ACTION of getting ideas moving, not the other way around.

Let's Chat

Contact me to discuss how I leverage video content to help grow businesses.

Get notified when I release new content and updates

Fill out my online form.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.