Brainstorm Somebody Else’s Problems

You know when you get to that point in your WIP where you just can’t see how to fix a problem?  You know it’s not working as is, but the solution remains just out of reach?

Turns out, the answer just might be in recruiting the brainstorming powers of others.

See, there’s research to suggest that people are more able to think of novel or creative solutions to things on behalf of other people than they are for themselves.  It has to do with the fact that when we think of stuff for ourselves we tend toward the very concrete and specific.  When we are thinking of stuff for others, we’re somehow freed to be more abstract and therefore creative.  For our own stuff, we narrow the field, focus more closely on the problem, where for others, we’re more capable of pulling back and looking at things more broadly.

The same thing applies to business, the personal, almost every aspect of our lives.  But I’m most interested in how it applies to writing.  I think this is something that I instinctively understood because when I get stuck, a particular kind of stuck, I have particular people I automatically go to for feedback and brainstorming.  My inner circle of crit partners each have their particular strengths, and I play to those strengths when looking for answers.  Even if their particular suggestion doesn’t solve the problem, 9 times out of 10 something they say will jar something loose in my brain, help expand my own thinking so that suddenly the solution is very clear and obvious.  And the result is often that I’m really charged to keep going, which is always a good thing.

I think being aware of our limitations is a key to not staying stuck.  And certainly if we try to trick our brains to believe we’re doing this for someone else, we might learn to expand our own thinking.  And that is always a good thing.

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