I am a big fan of brainstorming. I even used to talk about brainstorming with myself. And I do brainstorm with myself a lot. Generating plenty of ideas before being able to develop them further. “I could do this, and I could do that. And that would be great. Or maybe that!” Does this sound familiar?
Last week I read an article that made me stop and contemplate. The article was about how and why the “Brainstorming Does Not Work”.
The idea in this article is that when you brainstorm in a group, you have a pressure of a group with no space to contemplate and develop this particular idea. Some studies and experiences revealed that the quality of the ideas, or rather ideas with solutions are better when developed by a solitary person having time to ponder on the idea and solution.
At the same time of this discovery and a light-bulb-experience, I observed something interesting about my way to write my second book. I did have the same experience during the first book, but I became very aware of it now and saw how it changed when I started trusting my initial creation. That is to trust my very first draft.
I write my books by hand. This was true for at least half of my first book and true for the second book in its full, or at least what I have written so far (about 3/4 are written). Then after some time, I type what I have written by hand. For example, I am writing Chapter 29 by hand now and typing Chapter 23 (having some of the later thirty-something chapters hand-written already as well).
What I noticed is that while typing, my brain generates new text prompted by sentences I type. I start modifying my first draft on-the-fly. Typing further I often discover that I had this same idea already, but in different and often better shape. Or that there is some other piece of text, which makes much more sense than this new idea.
Now, having discovered this article about brainstorming not being always that good, I start to understand what could be happening. My inner critic suggests subtly that my first draft is bad and that something new has to be generated. But this new text doesn’t have enough time to ripe as the initial, very first and hand-written draft, which flowed in one piece at the time of writing.
All these simultaneous revelations made me become curious about my first drafts and not to correct them too much. I still do slip into the correcting mode time to time, like today, having this brilliant idea to refer to old Italian movies with Sophia Loren, only to discover that I did this already in the first draft, but a bit later in the scene. The solution to this was getting the referee in my brain, who found the third option bringing peace between the inner critic and the initial originator of the first draft.
But in spite of this slipping, or maybe because I am aware of it now, I start being more detached and less personal about what I have written in the first place. Less proprietary and less worried, more curious about what was written and what kind of story emerges out of the first scribblings.
I must say, I enjoy the writing process more and more after discovering this. I now trust my first drafts to contain some gems, however hidden.
Picture: Talking of hidden gems. My sweet Emma loves falling asleep with her favourite cuddly toys close by.