When I'm feeling blue, I don't want to write. I don't want to do anything writing related, either. I just want to sit on the couch, eat peppermint patties and caramels, take a nap, then sip coffee and watch the Food Network.
I spent most of the week at our local junior high. The eighth grade social studies classes are writing children’s books based on the revolutionary war, and I was blessed to help. Most of Wednesday and Thursday were spent brainstorming with individual groups each period. Sometimes it’s hard to take a big concept and narrow it down to a specific story, so I helped them focus their plots. These teens are so smart! They all had clever ideas.
The exercise reminded me how valuable brainstorming is to writers. Bouncing ideas off other people helps you refine your premise. It might reveal holes in your plot you weren’t aware of. It forces you to see that some factors of your story just aren’t believable. Then you find ways to make it believable.
Brainstorming almost always produces a stronger story.
I always joke that it took a village to get me published, but it’s true. I’ve learned everything about publishing, plotting, writing, editing and marketing from other people. They generously shared their knowledge with me. My books also require help from others. I recently interviewed a local firefighter for an upcoming book (thanks, Steven!). I could not write a believable story about a firefighter without this kind of help. And, naturally, my agent and editor play huge roles for my books.
Brainstorming can work for any aspect of life. Every year I join a dozen or so other local writers for a brainstorming weekend. We rent a cabin on a lake and spend the entire weekend taking turns brainstorming story ideas, scenes, titles–anything! I was unable to attend this year, but I was able to spend a weekend with a different set of friends to career plan. We ran ideas by each other about the business side of writing. I came away from the weekend feeling so much better about my plans.
The value of brainstorming? Priceless!
Do you bounce ideas off other people? Do you like helping other people solve problems?
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Have a fantastic weekend!