Being a writer is a very solitary occupation, but often the human brain is at its best when stimulated by others.
As I’ve said before, I’m no scientist, so don’t expect me to come up with technical reasons why this should be so. As a writer, I spend days, just me, in front of a computer screen. There is no doubt, though, that the best information for the many commercial features I write for magazines comes from actual conversations with other people – often experts in their field. It isn’t just the information they provide, it’s the ideas they stimulate and the way my writer’s brain seizes on those ideas to shape them into something that is hopefully informative and meaningful.
I suppose it’s a bit like ‘brain-storming’ meetings in business – you have to sort the wheat out from the chaff but usually some really good ideas are tossed into the mix and one person’s idea is added to by someone else or perhaps blended together with another idea and suddenly a really strong plan emerges.
As a writer I didn’t realise how much I missed that interaction of different thoughts and opinions. Maybe missed is the wrong word, because I don’t consciously think, whilst poised in front of my computer screen to write the next chapter, that I missed taking on board the views of other people, but I certainly need it.
So, last night, armed with the first chapter of my recently written children’s stories, I went to a meeting of my local writers’ group. I’m a relatively new member and I hadn’t read any of my work before out loud to the other members. However, I knew there were aspects of these stories that didn’t work and having reached the point where I could no longer look at them objectively and identify where changes were necessary, I needed that human interaction. I needed the feedback and opinions of others. I needed someone to stimulate my brain into action. Well, I can safely say that my brain is now buzzing with ideas that I need to develop to improve these stories and get them to a point where they may be publishable.
I’ve learnt, during my 25+ years as a writer, journalist and editor, not to take personally the many different views and comments that your writing will generate, because not everyone will agree with what you write and not everyone will like your writing. But I do believe it is important to open your mind to the views of others and be prepared to listen to opinions, because by doing this you open up an alternative and probably very different perspective on an event – or in my case, a story – which in turn presents many different avenues or directions that you can explore to get to the finished, hopefully polished and well-rounded product.