Critical thinking skills are not something that modern schools in most of the world are big on. It’s either learning things off by heart or being swayed by someone or other’s opinion. Teaching our kids how to actually reason: how to break an idea down, follow it to its conclusions (and not stop where we are comfortable, regardless) is something that many, many adults are not really capable of.
As a writer, you can’t be one of those adults. You’ve really got to think things through. Thinking is an under-rated activity. Indeed, one or two of my earlier writing tips posts may well be taken as advocating doing over thinking.
It’s true, I am a fan of actually acting instead of just thinking and dreaming. But the things is, this world seems to have too many thinkers who do not do AND too many doers who do not think. What we need more of is people who think carefully and thoroughly about what they intend to do. As a writer this will save you from insanity.
Thinking is a wonderful activity. Playing out scenarios, exploring what if’s… generally going off to play with the fairies for extended periods. It’s the perfect antidote to the all-too-real worlds of Facebook, TV, tabloids and gossip that we swim in the rest of each and every day.
Try asking yourself What if…. a little more often.
What if social media dropped out of fashion… like tomorrow. What would people do? Excellent thought.
What if cell phones started spontaneously interacting without networks thanks to some CIA hack gone wrong? No more phone bills……
What if we discovered intelligent life out there and it was, well, way more intelligent than us.
What if Tesla DID discover free energy?
What if you COULD fall in love with a prince/ss?
When you’re out, drinking coffee, watching the world go by, look at people. Really LOOK at people. Who are they? WHY are they happy or sad? WHY are they dressed that way? What’s the story of HOW those two people are together? Make up the tory. You have the clues: clothes, facial expressions, physical proximity. Learn to drink up details and THINK about them. What do they mean? How do they fit together? How ELSE could they fit together? Put your grey matter back to gym and exercise it.
The more you think, the better you get. Just like everything else in life.
When casting quick story sketches use the 5 W’s and an H to flesh to your thoughts. In your sketch answer the 6 questions: