Saturday, March 16, 2013

The two W's of sharing your ideas!


Back when I worked at an ad agency, the president always made us writers have this one woman who I’ll call K sit in on our brainstorming sessions. But K was a numbers and sales person who happened to write, and every time we’d have a fun, wild, big idea, she’d be like, no, you can’t do that. And she’d tell us all the reasons. The thing was, okay, maybe, for example, featuring Icarus on the weather page was a stretch, or the talking bed, but it could’ve led somewhere if she hadn’t been all negative about it. Finally, a consultant came in and this consultant was like, what the hell is K doing in your creative brainstorming sessions? Get her out. That was a good day for fun ideas.

K was somebody who was good at seeing an idea after it had gotten refined. We needed her brilliant eagle eye on the back end, but not the front end.

I always keep that in mind when sharing ideas early - and I'm talking even pre-synopsis/rough synopsis stage here. Who you share it with matters. It needs to be somebody who can expand it and roll with you and be playful. The author friends I share concepts and ideas with tend to understand what stage a thing is at and how to work with that. I think minor cautioning can be helpful – I do like my comrades to point out early-stage pitfalls (it has saved my ass a few times!) but early on it should be more possibilities over pitfalls.


When to share an idea is intensely personal for writers. As a total CP whore, I’m all about running ideas by my author friends in any stage. And I love brainstorming.

Personally, I know when I get protective or clingy with an idea that’s when I get rigid. So I like to work against that. I say, spill your candy, throw mud at the wall, act like you’re expansive and you have a million great ideas and your ideas can’t be harmed, they can only get better.

This is surely different for different writers, but for me, that approach works.

However, when I’m feeling truly reluctant to share an idea, there’s typically a reason. Deep down somewhere, I know it’s flawed.

I wonder if there is a difference between plotters and pantsers when it comes to sharing ideas. I’m more on the plotter side, so I’m really used to plots being a kind of canvas you can shape and play around with. What do you think?

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