Thursday, May 20, 2010

Idea Shopping; or, My Day On The Mall

As I mentioned last week, my goal for this past Tuesday was to hang out somewhere besides my living room and do some brainstorming for story ideas. I ended up on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, where I spent six or seven hours just wandering around, taking pictures, making notes, and enjoying the spring.

So how many story ideas did I come up with? Two that I'm adding to the queue, so far. But I also jotted down descriptions of numerous people, places, and sensations, all of which may appear in future stories. And after spending about an hour hanging about in Union Station, I now want to write a story involving trains, train travel, and train stations.

I also took a couple dozen photographs, at least some of which have the potential to spark more ideas: A girl, sitting alone on a bench near one of the light rail stations; the guy on the Mall who stood holding an alto recorder as if he were either just about to play or had just finished playing ... for the entire twenty minutes I stood there; the lady who handed me a free bible verse ... that read more like a fortune cookie (Romans 8:25: But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.).

I ate lunch in an Irish pub, and mused on how much better American football would be if it were played to a soundtrack of Irish fiddle music. (Also had a darned good pint of cider while I was there.) Later, I had cream tea and a cookie down at the Tattered Cover. What an amazing place to hang out and people-watch!

In all, I wound up with about eight pages of notes, character sketches, and random musings. Oh, and some photographs. Let's not forget them.

And a bottle of verjuice. That's very important.*

So ... was it productive? I think so. Am I glad I did it? Heck, yeah! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. This was one of the most refreshing days I've spent in a long time. I found it very freeing to give myself permission to just roam around and let my mind wander and take pictures of dorky things like racks of bicycles and train stations.

Has anyone else ever dedicated a day, or even part of a day, to brainstorming? What were your results?


* For those who are wondering, verjuice is the juice of unripened grapes, a frequently-used ingredient in medieval and Renaissance cookery. Not easy to find nowadays, but I spotted it in a downtown market.


Samantha said...

I love to go places to brainstorm. It's fun to hang out in coffee shops or bookstores and just listen to people's conversations. Sometimes just hearing one sentence of a conversation can spark tons of ideas.