Brief explosion – starting a creative project

My starting point for gathering inputs to a creative project is the working brief. The technique that I use with participants in my workshops is what I call the ‘brief explosion’, the first stage in the process of ‘Filling the Kalideacope’. It’s an explosion because from just a few brief words you can generate so many inputs.

It rather depends on your creative project having a brief. If it doesn’t then you can just make one up. Today I am going to make a ____ for ____ so that they can ____. That’s enough to get you started.

In your workspace (be it on your desk, on a wall or on your computer) write three headings: information, questions and ideas. Think of these three words as a providing rough scaffolding for your Kalideacope: hooks on which to hang the, random, non-linear, irregular thoughts that your creative brain generates.

The information heading is for capturing the data or knowledge supplied by the brief. It is for facts and figures; requirements and user preferences etc.

The questions heading is capturing any questions that come to mind as you explore the brief or think about the project. These question can be narrow and to the point or musings (like, I wonder would happen if we…)

The ideas heading is for clues, fragments, inspirations, insights about what the response to the brief could look like. These don’t have to be fully formed in any way.

You are now ready to begin. The process is read through the brief, stopping at any significant word and phrase and seeing what inputs it triggers.

First, simply, what information do you get from that bit of the brief.

Then, what questions do you have? What questions does that word trigger? Are there alternative meanings? Is there some ambiguity that could be interesting to explore? Is there something you don’t know that you need to go and find out?

Finally, what ideas does the word inspire? What clues do you get about what to do next? What other projects come to mind?

This technique is all about growing a large set of inputs from something small. You might be surprised just how much you can write down and derive from a relatively straightforward brief.

What you produce isn’t static, but can be a live, changing and evolving set of inputs to your creative process. You can use it to make connections – answers to questions you ask can become information or ideas. Information you gather can trigger ideas and questions. Ideas you generate can cause you to seek out new information by asking questions.

It is the start of assembling and rearranging elements into new combinations. It is the start of using your Kalideacope.

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