“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison
As a writer, I don’t have time for the Edison approach. That’s why I like brainstorming in a group. However not all groups are created equal, so here are some tips that work for me.
1. Size matters. Less is more. More time for each person to have a turn. More time for recording ideas, asking questions, etc. No more than five people in a group.
2. The secret is in the sauce. Brainstorming with other authors who read or write in your genre or time period creates the best blend of ideas and resources.
3. Location. Location. Location. Find a convenient place, which is private with few distractions.
4. Be prepared. Bring copies of a one-page double-spaced overview of the premise and tone of your work and your specific area(s) of concern. I provide spaces for comments and collect the pages at the end of the session in case I missed any suggestions.
5. In the nick of time. Two hours is a reasonable amount of brainstorming time for each person to receive twenty to thirty minutes of ideas from the group. Someone needs to be the timekeeper and reign in the group if they lose focus on the premise, tone, or specific concerns. Gentle reminders. No whips or rulebooks are required.
What do you think about brainstorming groups? What other suggestions do you have?