Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CRASH THE ROADBLOCK! Six Rules of Brainstorming

Most writers run into roadblocks at one time or another, something that keeps their story from progressing. It may be as simple as trying to come up with a name that's true to the story's era and a character's nature, or it could be more complex, say, a major plot twist that isn't playing out well. At such times, we send out frantic S.O.S. for a little help from our writerly cohorts. Observing a few simple guidelines can make our idea sessions more productive.

Rule One:  Pray. Ask the Lord to make your brainstorming fruitful. Also ask Him to give you wisdom to recognize the best choice from many.

Rule Two:  Be specific about your purpose for brainstorming. Clearly articulate what your need is. If the group starts chasing rabbits, tactfully draw them back to task. 

Rule Three:  Accept all ideas as being equal--yours and others'--no matter how random, wild, far-fetched, bizarre, awkward, or exaggerated, without judging them. No put-downs, rolled eyes, or smirks allowed!

Rule Four:  Allow, indeed encourage, piggybacking! Let one person's idea spark another possible solution. And another. And another. Etc.!

Rule Five:  Understand that as a member of the brainstorming team, once you voice an idea, you relinquish ownership of it. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. You've essentially given it to your friend who sought your help.

Rule Six:  In light of Guideline Five, be courteous. Someone asked for your help, and you agreed to participate. If your idea turns out to be the accepted solution, congratulations! It is considered rude--not illegal, but definitely rude--to snatch back an idea you've tossed into the brainstorming ring and use it yourself in your own writing. If you really want to use it (in a different way), meet privately with the person for whom you were brainstorming, explain your plan, and ask her permission. Once again The Golden Rule rules!

Brainstorming is a pleasurable, productive way to solve problems with your fellow scribes. Keep it friendly and . . .

Write on!
Because of Christ,

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