We’re at the half-point of the year, and if you’re a product manager, chances are that you’re in the grips of planning for your Q3 and Q4 launches. And if you’re building a product from the ground up, then you’ve probably got a ton of decisions to make! Everyone has their personal preferences for how to brainstorm. Some folks like to whiteboard, others like to use programs like Miro or Productboard, but for me personally, nothing beats the written word.
Freewriting opens up my brain, especially if I’m doing it with pen and paper. There are no rules, no expectations, no limitations, and no goals. Whenever I sit down to freewrite, it’s ritualistic, I have a special journal (I’m obsessed with Leuchtturm journals), my cup of tea, my favorite pen (I love the inkiness of the Pilot Varsity fountain pens) and nothing ahead of me but a blank page. I approach it as an opportunity to quiet the external influences in my life and commune with my higher self. It can feel like a transcendent experience; ideas just appear on the page and I didn’t even know I had them.
But how can you apply this to product planning? There are several directions you can take with it but my recommendation would be not to make so many rules for yourself. I like to start with just writing down my aspirations for the product, the dream vision. What I’ve found is that once I get past the zoomed out view, I start to zero in on more specific parts of the plan. I also don’t limit myself to a paragraph format! I outline, I make Venn diagrams, draw wireframes, and doodle! Ultimately, these notes are for myself and nobody will see them, so sometimes I even break out my colored pencils and clip magazine photos to collage. This is for you! So the more fun and creativity you can have with it, the better.
However, I know a blank sheet of paper can be intimidating or anxiety-inducing for some. And if you’re used to an environment where creativity and rule-breaking isn’t encouraged, you might even feel uncomfortable drawing out of the lines, so to speak. So I created a set of writing prompts for product managers to help with their product planning. These are some of the essential questions you’ll eventually need to be able to answer about your product, so you might as well start now! Guaranteed, once you’re done freewriting your responses to these questions, you’ll have a solid starting point. And if these questions just generate more questions, that’s OK too! By the time you’re done with the process, you’ll probably change, refine, and detail the answers time and time again. This is just a starting point, don’t overthink it!
I hope this gets your next product jumpstarted and gets your creative juices flowing. Drop me a line in the comments if you have your own writing prompts for boosting creativity. Best of luck on your product journeys. Namaste!