People think the life of a writer is entirely solitary: sitting in a darkened room, scribbling on a pad or bashing away on a keyboard or, worse, sitting staring into space waiting for inspiration to strike.
There is a large element of that, but many writers enjoy the opportunity to collaborate. You bring your own ideas, the other people bring theirs, and sometimes ideas arise that no-one brought: they’re created by the collaboration.
This was apparent when my friends in the Hester’s Way Writers’ Group and I decided to pool our thoughts on a new project. We thought we’d come up with ideas for a little book festival of our own. We wanted something that would be more small-scale, local and involving than Cheltenham’s famous Literature Festival. Beyond that, we didn’t care.
We decided to brainstorm in the best way we could. Meg found a big sheet of paper and a red marker pen. I wrote “Book event” in the middle, and then we all started to chip in ideas. The rule for brainstorming is that you don’t evaluate the ideas as they arise. You just urge each other on, writing all the ideas down and leaving the evaluation stage for later.
We had lots of ideas. As I write this I am looking at the big sheet of paper, a few days after we did the exercise, and you can see all sorts of possibilities. You can see how one idea gave rise to another. You can see how the sensible schemes and the wildly ambitious jostle alongside each other. It’s very impressive.
Here are just a few things we came up with, in no particular order:
- Book club for children
- Local writers’ workshop
- Visits by famous people
- Poetry slam
- Art competition
- Open mic
- Book-related music
- Jilly Cooper
- Films and books
- Story-telling evening
- Life stories
- Ask J.K.Rowling for money
- Dress up
- Summer reading challenge
- Book related food
- Adult literacy
- Book sale
There are more. What is clear is how quickly you can generate a lot of ideas. This took about 15 minutes.
Now, it is obvious some of them are less practical than others. We don’t know J.K.Rowling’s phone number, for a start. And it is not clear what some of the ideas even were. Braille?
But if we were to try and go ahead, we are off to a flying start. What would you like to see at the Hester’s Way Book Festival?