Brainstorming with writing, diagrams and drawings to navigate complex conceptual problems

Essay by Luke Foster

“Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”Edward De Bono

The way I usually write an essay that is difficult is to use a big A3 pad and draw a figure central to the problem with an Artline 200 pen in the middle of the page. For example with my “Predicting Sorry Day in America” essay I started with a drawing of Johnny Depp dressed up as Charlie Chaplin. If you are writing in a think tank team then using a smart board or white board and white board marker would be more effective with one person as scribe.

If you are no artist then don’t be shy its hard at first but gets easier with practise. Then literally brainstorm. Put arrows from the drawing to different parts of the page. Write a few sentences at a time in point form. Then once you can’t come up with any more ideas then start translating the simplistic ideas into more complex tailored sentences.

This way of brainstorming worked a treat for me with the “Predicting Sorry Day I America” essay and with other essays. Make sure you start with an opening quote preferably funny that warms up the audience and puts them in an open mind set to negotiate new ideas. Then start with an opening paragraph where you outline the main issues and where the issues are heading.

The middle paragraphs should also have the occasional joke to open up people’s hearts as well as their mind and fill out the problems at stake and answers to those problems.

The final paragraph should wrap up the argument and leave the ideas open to interpretation and further rigorous academic inquiry.

It’s also good to use visual aids in the form of diagrams, photos or employ an illustrator to make a funny illustration that accentuates the point of the essay.

This is my tried and tested way of writing essays that are simple for even a child to read and complex enough to challenge even the most rigorous intellectual.

Remember humour is always the best way for people to open the audience’s hearts and minds and to leave an impression that they will never forget.

I work alone but listen to everyone’s input once I have done a draft if it’s a grandmother, my mum or friends or even a kid riding a scooter or skateboard. Then I take on board their advice and through long walks near the beach process all the information then tweak and rewrite my little essays if needed.

Also as final tip for essays to navigate complex conceptual problems: be a bit psychic. In this I mean try to guess what your audience is thinking. In this case my main audience is the think tanks of the left and right in the USA. I figure they say that the peace game costs a lot every day. However they say I shouldn’t be just given lots of money and a new house or apartment as I am a role model for the poor of the world. I have to work hard to escape the poverty cycle so it is realistic and achievable for all the poor in the world that if they work hard and save carefully then they can escape the poverty cycle too. Well that’s my guess what the think tanks are thinking. I may be wrong.

For me the peace game is a game I play with the world in my head when I am mentally ill and suffering delusions of grandeur.

Joseph Beuys brainstorming.
Me with my brainstorm drawings.