Social Brainstorming

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Writing is typically a very solitary activity. In general, creative types can tend at times to be almost hermit-like especially during our most creative journeys of self-discovery and expression.

Nobody comes to mind, other than maybe the Dalai Lama in all his meditative glory, who can get further inside his or her own head and stay there longer than a writer.

I am guilty of this.

I seek out solitude to write. I need my own space, time, peace. That used to be easy. But these days, being a mom and wife, my time is filled with all sorts of activity and distractions. And achieving solitude is no longer a simple task. I’ve considered taking desperate measures such as locking myself in a closet to find a minute to write. It’s not exactly something I’m proud of but I’ve been known to mentally leave the room mid-conversation or physically go off and hide in the bathroom to quickly jot down notes in moments when inspiration strikes.

Of course I love spending time with my family and friends but, still, I try to make or find the time and peace and quiet to write whenever and however I can. It’s important to me since I need it to achieve my dreams.

But as creative as I can be when I’m alone and as tempting as it might be to stay hidden away in that quiet, creative place, I know that I can’t stay there forever. It’s obviously not healthy to be alone all the time or even most of the time. While we all need some semblance of peace and quiet to catch our breath, we also need direct (and indirect) contact with other people. Finding a healthy, happy balance can be a struggle for some of us.

It is for me.

While I love making new friends and being around people, I also long to be alone so that I can think and create and write. Until the words flow from my brain and onto the page, it can often feel like I am at war with myself. I need to crawl deep down into an almost meditative state to accomplish my goals, but I also need to stay healthy and that requires a level of human contact.

I hate to admit it but sometimes I have to force myself out of my head and out of my house in order to be physically around other people. In addition, I urge myself to occasionally pick up the phone and have real time conversations.

But when all else fails, I turn to my social network of choice: Facebook.

And, in addition to its obvious “social” benefits, I’ve discovered a whole new reason to love Facebook. When I’m stuck on an element of creativity or when my mind has come to a fork in the road or even a dead end, I can simply update my status to ask for help. Until recently, I had no idea it could be such an amazing brainstorming tool!

Earlier this year, I was struggling naming a new character so I posted a description. Within minutes, my Facebook friends were in a frenzy bouncing names back and forth. Some took it seriously while others were more playful, but all were helpful and inspiring in their own ways. Later, I posted that I needed a name for a fictional company. I got great responses for that, too.

When I worked in corporate events, I loved (most) meetings and, more specifically, brainstorming sessions. For one, they helped break up the day. But more importantly, I found that the act of getting people together around a great big table in a conference room was the best way to get and then expand upon some really awesome ideas. Sure, we’d all sometimes bitch and moan about being too busy for yet another meeting but those meetings were productive from a creative point of view. Even the conference calls had their high points, although those were much more challenging for me to pay attention.

These days, conference rooms and boardroom tables are practically obsolete. At least they are in my life. I’m sure companies still use them, but now social networking sites allow us the freedom to brainstorm with our friends, family and even folks we don’t know. It’s an easy, far more efficient and convenient way to get opinions and answers from a multitude of people, near and far, and way more than could possibly fit in an actual conference room or, for that matter, in my living room. Facebook makes it easy to gather my family, friends, acquaintances, work contacts, associates, former classmates and even my dentist all in the same “room” to simultaneously ask a question.

I like that.

And, with no boss looking over my shoulder, I can post any topic or question that strikes my fancy (and I can be pretty darn fancy), then go off and spend time with my daughter, take a walk, make a phone call, workout, bake, go shopping, have lunch or even take a nap while I wait for feedback. And it’s all-but guaranteed to eventually come. Even if half of my Facebook friends are busy elsewhere, there’s a good chance that the other half is itching to be involved. So now instead of getting reprimanded or risk being fired, the answers are simply waiting for me when I return. It’s brilliant!

I also like that I can sit in my PJs and call a meeting of the minds (as well as the wise asses) whenever I want. Morning, noon or even in the middle of the night, there are bound to be people ready and willing to join in and post their ideas or give me a swift kick in the tuchus with an inspirational quote or two when I need it most.

As the song goes, “That’s what (Facebook) friends are for!”

And, not to brag, but my Facebook friends are pretty amazing. Individually, they are some of the smartest, funniest, most creative, inspirational, talented, sincere, thoughtful, charismatic and just plain helpful people out there. Together, they are a brainstorming force to be reckoned with. And perhaps the coolest part is that they come from all aspects of my life: past and present.

Because of Facebook, I have received their combined assistance on many occasions. And for that, I am eternally grateful. In fact, I hope to someday include a special thank you message to all of my Facebook friends on a future acknowledgment page when I finally reach my goal and publish my first novel. Wouldn’t that be a great way to show them how much they’ve meant to me?

Of course, I’ll probably need more of their help to get there!

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