Writing Secrets: A gathering of creative minds

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

We’re well into the second week of our annual Venice Writing Retreat, and it has struck me again, as it does every year, how creative it is to gather together a group of writers and allow them to share ideas.

Some of our participants are busy working on existing projects, while others have joined us in the hope of brainstorming something new.

I enter every new brainstorm with great trepidation, certain that I’ll have no ideas and that it will be a disaster. It never is. I actually don’t think that’s possible.

I come out thinking how clever I’ve been – as, I’m sure, do my brainstorming companions. There is something about the alchemy of different brains focused on the same goal. Each idea spurs you to be far more creative than you would have been alone. It makes you cleverer.

Never fear that what comes out will not be your idea. It will be. It’s up to you to accept what works and to run with what feels comfortable. But you’ll emerge feeling that the idea which was formed in that forge of minds was entirely yours. And yes, it was, helped along by the impetus of others.

Not everyone is lucky enough to join us in Venice. But always remember this under-appreciated skill, when you get stuck and can’t think of a way forward. Or when you have half an idea, but can’t work out how to develop it.

All you need is one brainstorm companion – someone disinterested (rather than uninterested). I mean that they should have no stake in the process. That generally rules out your life partner.

The best life partners have your best interests at heart. They fear for you. So ideas, for them, don’t necessarily symbolise the soaring possibilities they do for you. They represent the likelihood of failure, of humiliation, of difficulty, which they hope to spare you.

Find someone who loves to play with ideas, and is happy to toss them around with you, but who has no stake in whether you make a fool of yourself or not. That can’t be part of the equation. Choose someone who understands something of the way stories work – if they’re not writers themselves, they should be avid and loving readers.

That’s what we’ve tried to create in Venice: a gathering of creative minds. Even for those firmly set on their writing path, there is space for new ideas, a way to make it better.

And for those embarking on a new project, we can provide the disinterested thinkers who understand stories and how they work. We can provide the minds to match yours, and together, make magic happen.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: The science and mathematics of story telling

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