3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming

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Photo by Kyryl Lakishyk

Group work in the writing community can be wonderful, or frustrating. It becomes frustrating when individuals aren’t on point when you brainstorm your story, or you end up following story threads that eventually won’t work in your story. But the rewards of a group brainstorming session can be substantial.

So, how do you get brainstorming sessions to be effective ways to expand your story options? Gather your courage to share your story with others and ask for their help.

Brainstorming with other writers.can bring new life to an author’s stories. The challenge is often in finding the right group to brainstorm with and keeping the brainstorming session focused enough to be helpful.

Over the past few years I’ve watched some brainstorming groups succeed and some fail. Each group that failed got bogged down in one of three areas. Here are 3 tips to successful group brainstorming from my observations.

3 Tips To Successful Group Brainstorming:

  1. Select group members carefully. Keep the group small- 6 or less to allow everyone time to bounce ideas. Find group members who use similar methods to write, providing a commonality of terms and knowledge.
  2. Identify the focus of the session. A complete book is too broad of a topic to brainstorm successfully in one session. Instead, focus on one thread of the story. This allows everyone in the group to focus on the area of greatest need. If the whole story idea is the focus, recognize that it may take a few brainstorming sessions to complete it.
  3. Record ideas and follow-up. During the brainstorming session, record ideas without passing judgement on them. Occasionally, redirect the conversation back to the thread you want to explore. Have a follow-up brainstorming session to further develop the ideas from the first session. This follow-up will deepen your story.

What works for you in group brainstorming?

Music Monday – Brother Let Me Be Your Shelter

Lately I’ve been listening to the new album Live From the Woods by needtobreathe. It’s the recording from a show performed at The Woods at Fontanel last September. And I was there!

What an amazing show it was.

If you’re not familiar with needtobreathe . . . well, you’re missing out. But instead of giving you their entire story, let’s suffice it to say that the band from South Carolina includes two brothers, Bear and Bo Rinehart. At the show last year, Bear, the older brother and lead singer, shared the story behind my favorite song on the album, “Brother.”

It seems that after years in the band together, multiple studio albums, and years of touring, these brothers found themselves at odds, competing instead of building each other up. Fighting instead of supporting each other. It all reached a head as they returned home for 6 weeks. Bear said that during that time, he and Bo didn’t speak. At all. You see, they’d let the band become more important than their relationship. But after six long weeks, Bear went to Bo prepared to tell him that he was willing to give up the band, but he wasn’t willing to give up his brother. Bo had written a similar speech for Bear.

Thankfully the band was salvaged. More importantly the brotherhood was. And Bo wrote a beautiful love song for his brother.

My favorite lyrics are:

Everybody needs someone beside ’em
Shining like a lighthouse from the sea

I think this applies to more than just brothers. We’re made for community and to build each other up. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

I’ve been feeling this more keenly in my writing life of late. When the night winds of deadlines and rejections drive in, friends in my community have kept me on my feet and moving forward. I’m four-times blessed by the other women of this blog–Michelle, Jill, Jess, and Pat. When I’ve been overwhelmed with deadlines or fearful of new adventures, these women have come alongside me, praying for me, lifting me up, encouraging me.

I also try to get together with a local group of Nashville writers once a month or so. We don’t have organized meetings so much as eating brunch and talking about writing and the industry. Every Tuesday I meet another writer friend for dinner so that we can catch up and then spend an hour writing and cheering each other on.

These are just a few of the sisters who have become my shelter in the midst of the writing storm. I’m so grateful for them all.

What does your community (writing or otherwise) look like? Who is the lighthouse pointing you home?

3 Tips To Kick Writer’s Discouragement To The Curb

Discouragement is a normal part of the writer’s journey. How could it not be with all of the rejections that are a part of the profession?

We may expect it to come, but it can still take the drive out of our work. Often times we even get stuck there waiting for the confidence to go on. Trouble is while we are stuck nothing happens.

Even when discouragement hits, there are still responsibilities and deadlines. We can’t shut ourselves off from the world and sulk. Instead, embrace where you are and know that it won’t last forever.

3 Tips To Kick Writer’s Discouragement To The Curb:

1. Realize that you are not alone. So much of the time we isolate ourselves because we don’t want anyone to realize how much we are struggling. That achieves nothing. It leaves us in a funk that is hard to break free from. Keep in mind you are not alone and stave off isolation tendencies.

2. Reach out to the writing community. Tell your writing friends about your struggle. Ask for their prayers. You may be surprised to find that they are in the same place as you are or were not that long ago. Sharing the burden with someone else always makes it lighter.

3. Work on your favorite part of the writing process. If you are discouraged it is difficult to face the part of writing you least enjoy. Give yourself permission to take one day to do the thing you love most. If you love to edit, edit. If you love to brainstorm, brainstorm. If you love the rough draft, write the rough draft. This will rejuvenate your love of story and get you back on track.

You don’t have to let discouragement run your writing career. Kick it to the curb and stand with others who have been there, too.

What Do You Do To Kick Writer’s Discouragement To The Curb?