Writerly Play Logo

My playlist is an eclectic collection of tools that help me approach my work as play. My hope is that they’ll do the same for you.


Object: Making practical creative decisions.

What Didn’t Work: Trying to jump from a general discussion about ideas to an immediate choice.

My Aha! Moment: I’ve been exploring some new creative thinking tools after taking a course called “Creative Thinker’s Toolkit” that’s offered on Great Courses Plus. One of those tools is called POINT, a step-by-step tool to help thinkers develop novel ideas into something workable.

Most have had the experience of reaching for ideas during a brainstorming session, only to later toss out the “wild” ideas as unusable. When we don’t know how to make an idea work, and it doesn’t fit our normal patterns, we reject it. What would happen if we asked ourselves: How might this idea work?

One of my students was starting a new novel. She was at that moment we often reach when solving a creative puzzle. We have a few ideas and we know the next step is a decision. Sometimes we instinctively know which choice is right. Many times, though, if we’re honest with ourselves, we feel less than clear.

Fortunately, at that moment, I remembered the POINT tool. “Don’t choose!” I said, and then asked if she’d like to try a new approach. She was game, so we went through a structured evaluation of her ideas using POINT. By the time she made her choice, she had clarity and confidence and a plan to take forward.

POINT works for making decisions about writing projects, but also for making any decision that has more than one possible solution. Here’s how it can work.

How POINT works:

  • P stands for “positives.” What makes this idea appealing?
  • O stands for “opportunities.” What options will this idea make possible?
  • I stands for “issues.” What challenges might this idea bring?
  • NT stands for “new thinking.” What new ideas arise as you consider this idea in more depth?

Player’s Notes:

  • POINT offers a method for considering a more unusual idea. When you feel yourself resisting an option because of the unknowns, try focusing on one POINT question at a time. You don’t have to see the end result to consider the possibility.
  • Once you’ve evaluated each option, take time to look over the full list before making a final decision. New options you hadn’t considered may arise. Might two of your options combine? Might your ideas lead to a new option that has yet to come up?

Take it to the Next Level:

  • Not every problem requires creative problem solving, but if we approached more problems with this kind of thinking, we may find more novel solutions. Take a moment to brainstorm the general challenges, small and large, you face in your life. What problem may benefit from brainstorming and POINT thinking?

Would you like a shortcut for structuring your POINT thinking? I’ve created a template, which you can download here

I am not sure to whom to give primary credit for the POINT tool, but I discovered it while taking the Creative Thinker’s Toolkit course on The Great Courses Plus, delivered by Professor Gerard Puccio. Thank you to Professor Puccio and The Great Courses Plus for sharing this fantastic tool, and for providing an overall well-developed course. I highly recommend the course for anyone who is interested in developing his or her creative thinking skills.