Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Real Brainstorming Is A Must

We talk about brainstorming all of the time with writing. I think people like to throw the idea out there to somehow prove they are really putting in effort toward their writing. Unfortunately, all too many authors just are not putting the time into the brainstorming process like they should.

Over this last weekend, I have been involved with some serious brainstorming sessions with three of my authors, and, in all honesty, I am not sure if we are done with the brainstorming yet. When I turned off my computer last night, I had not gotten any more emails and I haven't checked it yet this AM. It wouldn't surprise me though. What I do know, is that the time we are spending with the brainstorming will make the writing process for the rest of their books go so much easier.

There are actually two problems out there for the people who are not really doing a good job of brainstorming, and all of it comes from a lack of understanding of what the real process is about. Let me explain that first before diving into what they are doing wrong.

The concept of brainstorming. According to the definition on the all-too famous Dictionary Dot Com...

a conference technique of solving specific problems, amassing information, stimulating creative thinking, developing new ideas, etc., by unrestrained and spontaneous participation in discussion.

There are several concept here that I want to key in on and you should start to see what is really happening with those of you who think you are brainstorming: conference, amassing information, unrestrained and spontaneous participation in discussion

For many people out there, their concept of brainstorming is just thinking about a subject. They do so until they come up with the first answer they think is right and then move on. But the thing about true brainstorming is in those three concepts I just noted above.

First of all, we see the words. conference & participation in discussion  These words tell us that we are not thinking through these problems on our own. When we start thinking about problems, in an effort to find a solution, if we are doing this on our own, we are often thinking with blinders on. We see it one way and the solution can only be one way. Why? It is only our own brain doing the thinking. Sure, we might stumble upon an answer that works, but the odds are working against us. When it comes to brainstorming, we are putting more minds to work at the same time.

I think a good analogy of this would be what astronomers are getting ready to do. They know they have found a black hole way out there in space (I don't remember the name or where so work with me on this one). A single telescope is simply not strong enough to see it, but what they are doing is amassing multiple telescopes from around the world to work together to get an image. It is this combined force that will produce the image.

I hinted also at the other key concept here when it comes to this amazing practise of brainstorming. amassing information &  unrestrained and spontaneous. Too often, when people brainstorm, they will put things on a list and then proceed to eliminate those ideas because they think it is stupid or it won't work. This is not brainstorming! The thing to understand is that you have to be unrestrained. Good ideas, weak ideas, thoughts that haven't been fully developed and stupid ideas all go onto the list, for the simple reason that it will open brains up to other ideas. In some cases, the ideas are weak simply because the ideas hasn't been thought through completely.

We ran into this during this last weekend with one of my authors. She had a proposal we had sent in to the editor. The editor saw the concept only one way and said we needed to go back to the drawing board, So we worked together on this a bit more to develop a few more ideas, but still working with the initial concept that wasn't quite strong enough. Still not there, BUT the editor now saw one of the projects as viable (we changed some wordings), but we continued to work. After several days of back and forth dialogues (email, phone calls, Skype messages, etc) we found our way to 5 fantastic concepts.

What you should note is that we were constantly amassing new ideas in this discussion format, but we were also taking our time. This leads into the final reason so many people out there screw up brainstorming. This takes time.

What people believe (especially those writers who skip this step entirely and write from the "seat of their pants"  - and you know who you are), is that they brainstorm until they get an idea they want and then call it quits. They seem to believe that when they find an answer, they have found the perfect one. The real issue here is that they have found ONE ANSWER not necessarily the BEST ANSWER. This is part of the reason why I am fully expecting an email or two from my authors this morning. Sure, we think we might have something that will work, but we all went to "sleep on the concept" so who knows what will happen.

Yes, brainstorming takes time. Yes, brainstorming requires you introverts out there to talk to someone other than you kitty or the Bobblehead statue sitting on your desk. But the results you get will be far better then the mediocre answers you are coming up with right now! I promise!

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