J.J. Francesco writes contemporary thrillers, not my genre, but if you're into that, his look pretty good, so do go and check them out.
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Of Sailboats and Brainstorms
You might wonder what kind of metaphor I could be going for with that sailboat thing. Actually, I was just reaching for a witty pun involving storms and this was the weakest best attempt I could muster. Cue chuckles.
With that said, I actually find brainstorming some of the best parts of writing. This is the stage where ideas can rush you with reckless abandon, far from the filters of “how does that work” or “would that really happen?” second guesswork. These are the flashes of greatness that thrill us to the core and are hard to get back once we start trying to adult the work up with logical consistency and flow.
But brainstorming when those waters of inspirations aren’t quite flowing can sometimes make writing such a chore. And a bore. And who wants those?
It doesn’t have to be this way. Brainstorming can once again become a rewarding and passionate pastime. You might just need to change your approach.
First and foremost, if a particular project is really giving you trouble, set it aside a bit. You do not want to become disgruntled or adversarial to this work. You might just need a pause. But that does not mean you can’t write at all. Maybe this can be an opportunity to write something else, even if only for a day. Sometimes a different project can bring a new perspective to your other projects, and even spark some new ideas. After all, it’s your story. Who says you can’t use these new ideas on your previous story?
Another good way to brainstorm is simply to live life and observe people. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our little writer bubbles that we forget that, all around us, stories are going on in every person. Watch them, listen to the beats of their speech. Notice facial features and subtle movements. Nothing creates more ideas than simply watching other people.
This can extend to fiction to. Read something. Watch something. Just interact with characters who aren’t your own. We need breaks from people, even our families. Sometimes it can be true with our characters as well. You need to see other characters and who knows, you might find out things so good you just have to run home and tell your MC. Maybe even introduce them to a new character resembling these other characters. Why not?
Many of my stories started as some sort of fanfiction. Some of it explicitly so and others more responses to other stories that moved me. It can be the same with you. Try it and see. You might not be as blocked as you think.
If you need to brainstorm more specific details, sometimes you just need to stop over thinking it. I hate that statement in day-to-day life, but it can be applied to fiction. Sometimes we’re looking for a perfect solution where none exists. You might just need to try a way and see what happens. Worst-case scenario, you can’t use it. No writing is wasted time. Even if it doesn’t go in your book, you’ll learn a lot from having written it.
Brainstorming can be the bane of a writer’s existence but you can sail and navigate these troubled waters. Perhaps it just requires a few steps back, a few deep breaths, and a willingness to embrace new approaches you hadn’t considered before. Who knows, you might end up changing course to a story better than you ever could have imagined.