This is my second post in the brainstorming series. In my last post, I wrote about mind maps. Here, we’re going to discuss working with other people.
In my earlier years writing, I used to get quite defensive when readers tried to help me brainstorm ideas for my stories. I often felt that if someone else came up with an idea for me, that it would be illegitimate for me to use it. To clarify, this is different from stealing someone else’s idea—the context here would involve sharing my story with someone, and that person giving me ideas for how they thought it could be better. (There is a fine line, by the way, between helping someone brainstorm and giving “prescriptive” feedback. We’ll talk about that another time. The first is helpful, the second is not.)
But there’s nothing wrong with using ideas that someone else meant for you to use, or going to someone else to help you come up with new ideas. I often go to my brother when I’m looking for new ideas because he interacts with a whole different realm of media than I do. Because of this, his ideas are often completely different from mine. By pumping him for ideas, I can then take those ideas that I never would have had on my own and adjust them to fit into my own worlds.
It’s cliche, but true that two brains are better than one. People have different ideas. Coming together to come up with ideas is a great way to overcome writer’s block or to generate ideas.