When it comes to the real, hard, hands-on-the-keyboard work of writing, 99.9999% of writers prefer to go it alone. This is true whether we’re talking about freelance writing or typing out that novel that’s been in your head for years.
The process of developing ideas, on the other hand, is the part of the job where we might do our best work in the company of friends. Here are some techniques to get your creative juices flowing by simply chatting it up with a friend or two:
Make it Casual
You can discuss ideas over lunch at a favorite Chinese buffet, scribbling the good ones down on your napkin. You can invite a friend over to share a bottle of wine or a couple beers while you kick ideas back and forth. Setting an appointment to talk about work makes it too much like, well, work, but hanging out, watching some TV, and saying “Oh hey, I’ve got to come up with some material for this 1,001 Stupid Jokes Book by Friday, heard any good ones lately?” can make work feel like play.
“Open Source” Your Writing
The best way to do this is by sharing openly with fellow writers. You can set up a chat room or an email correspondence or just meet in person, if you live nearby. Let the writer know what you’re working on, ask them what they’re working on, and make work easier on yourselves by having a sort of take-a-penny-leave-a-penny philosophy on borrowing ideas from one another.
Share Old Work
Obviously, you can’t just cut and paste someone else’s article and call it your own, but you never know when a friend’s article on car door engineering will lead you down an idea-path that helps you crack the code on that prosthetic limb piece you’ve been stumped on.
And of course, the old standby: writer forums. Most content sites have a forum where writers and staff can chat and, if you work for one of the good ones, you’ll find that the other writers who work there are probably some of the smartest, friendliest, most imaginative co-workers you’ve ever had. Chatting with these more-experienced scribes and picking up advice can lead you to some great ideas of your own, and help you refine the ones you’ve been rolling around in your head.
In any event, it’s not so much about borrowing ideas from friends; rather, adding a social component to your work can be a tremendous help in developing ideas of your own.
Gilbert S spends most of his time writing, drawing, drinking coffee, hanging out with his wife and two cats in New Mexico, and chatting with fellow writers on Google+ and various writer’s forums.