I’m so pleased that my work has been useful to you. You write to me for help about definitions of terms in the chapters on brainstorming. I would like to help here, so I’ll give you my response. My view is not that you need to get answers on these matters of semantics before you can brainstorm. Not at all. What I see is a person with very impressive vertical/ logical/ analytical skills who is locked into a definitional loop which, while interesting in itself, is actually preventing proper brainstorming for creative writing purposes. What I see here is a vertical imagination itself engaged in brainstorming – brainstorming endless alternative meanings which are intriguing philosophically but not relevant to the task at hand. It is a wonderful gift to have such powers of logic. Congratulations. Those powers will be immensely useful to you in your writing. But to write to your best you need to make a conscious effort to switch between vertical and lateral at the right times, otherwise you won’t get the best out of either part of your mind. At the moment you’re locked into vertical and it’s blocking your imagination. That happens to a lot of people. The opposite also happens when people get locked into lateral and write in a kind of intoxicated way creating material that’s silly or over the top. The trick is getting the balance, and it’s very hard at first.
Brainstorming is simply a tool, like a pencil. It’s simply a way to trick the suppressed lateral imagination out into the open, to force it to make new and exciting connections. The trigger is not important in itself, it’s just way to set off original ideas. Just as knowing the chemical constituents of graphite will not help you draw better, so troubling yourself over a range of possible alternative meanings for my terminology will not help you create better stories. To do that, simply choose one of your definitions, then consciously put your logical vertical self to one side for the time being and give yourself permission to be illogical and silly for a little while as you free associate the connections that come to you. When you have a good long list of ideas and fragments from your lateral side, consciously bring your vertical side back into action to filter the quality of the results.
For people who are very vertical it can be very difficult to switch off the vertical mind because the lateral mind is so wild and crazy that the person feels out of control. But being out of control is exactly what we want in this instance. That’s exactly what we need for the brainstorming process. It’s a dream-like mentality. Don’t worry. It’s only temporary. Vertical will come into play again to filter the ideas that are weak or silly.
I suggest that you practice brainstorming by using a stopwatch. At first, give yourself just thirty seconds simply to free associate from any trigger while suppressing your vertical mind. Gradually increase that lateral time over a few days. It will be hard, but you will get there.
Imagination is a muscle. The harder you work it the stronger it gets. Think of your lateral imagination as being a bit like muscle memory for a musician. It’s not conscious or intellectual but it’s absolutely vital to your performance. Your vertical imagination is a great gift. Just learn when to quarantine it and when to let it do its job. I hope this helps and good luck.