Last summer I learned something important about the way I write.
Then I forgot it.
I remembered it again during my most recent writing group gathering.
I need to brainstorm.
But not just the kind where you draw a little brain with a topic and then branch out all over with other words or ideas that seem to connect to it...not even the kind where I write on a bunch of sticky notes and try to figure out the right sequence of my novel.
I mean the kind where I'm in a group and I say, "I'm having a hard time with this thing...what are your ideas?" In a group of creative writers everyone has ideas for where my story should go and what should happen. This is how I learn.
It's not even that I take and use all of the ideas people give me--maybe I don't even use any of them. But, it's like when I was in high school and I'd ask my mom for help on my calculus homework. She didn't know calculus (and I still don't), but she tried to help me and she'd read a problem and try to work through it with me. She, of course, would do it wrong, and then somehow I would see the right way to do the problem, and then I'd teach her.
It helps to get other writers talking about possibilities. It helps me see my work from different angles and to see where it could go. Even if I don't use any of their ideas, at least some of my own are sparked a little bit.
Brainstorming with my writing group seems to be almost more helpful than a critique session on a piece of writing. My group decided (after helping me brainstorm) that we're going to have a session every once and a while devoted to helping each other generate ideas.
What's better than a creative genius?
Four of them sitting at a table in a coffee shop talking together.