Monday Morning Brainstorming: In Which I Take My Own Advice

In The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide, I’ve got a chapter titled, “Brainstorming.” It’s not a long chapter, but I think it’s an important one, because I do think brainstorming is one of the biggest gifts critique partners can give to each other. I’ve talked to some beginning critiquers who haven’t realized that it’s an option for their group–and a great one. If they get stuck in a story, they struggle along by themselves trying to get past the block. And too often, this just puts them in a position in which they’re not writing, not submitting, and just feeling worse about how much they’re not getting done.


This morning, my group’s having an all-brainstorming, all-kicking-ideas-around session. For various reasons–some of being in between projects, some of us dealing with end-of-the-summer business, some of us (who, me?!) in that stuck place I just talked about–there were no submissions this week. It only took a quick email around to find out that there were several of us who thought this was a great opportunity to raise a hand and say, “Over here! Ideas welcome!”

My personal goal: To stir up the mud that has been the one big, LAST story problem of the picture book. The one I stare at and stare at and say, “Huh” about, over and over and over. Maybe someone in my group will have THE brilliant idea (fingers crossed!). If not, though, I know I’ll come out of the session with thoughts I haven’t had on my own, ideas I didn’t know were out there. And that, my friends, is a step forward.


  1. claudine says:

    Let us know if you come up with the answer.Good luck!



  2. Julie says:

    Hmm, I’d never thought of using a critique group for a brainstorming session – great idea. We usually just critique what is already there. But brainstorming about what is not there and should be/could be? Brilliant.


    • beckylevine says:

      Julie, it is a huge help to all of us. We just had a magical brainstorming session where three of us came in stumped and walked out with ideas flowing. I definitely recommend trying it out with your group.


  3. cool idea! I’ll have to remember that for next time I’m stuck.


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