Brainstorm Buddies are to writers what teammates are to athletes. They are the people who stick with us, who encourage us, who support us, and who root for us. They’re our friends, the voice of hope when doubt creeps in; for many of us, our Brainstorm Buddies are our muse. If you don’t have one, you should find one. If you do, make sure to tell them how much you appreciate them.
Just like it’s important to have a good Brainstorm Buddy, however, it’s important to be one. I’ve noticed that when you make an effort to do something for someone else, they often return the favor. The best sorts of Brainstorm Buddy relationships are the mutual ones, so today I want to talk a little bit about what it takes to be the best Brainstorm Buddy you can be.
#1: You are a good listener
Your listening abilities are what will set you apart as a candidate for a good Brainstorm Buddy. Writers and other creative types need people who will listen to their ideas. And listen. And listen. We always appreciate a good listener.
#2: You are genuinely interested
Listening because you have to isn’t what makes a good Brainstorm Buddy. Writers are usually able to sense whether you’re truly interested in their projects or not, and if you aren’t, it does more harm than good. Good Brainstorm Buddies have a genuine interest in the project at hand.
#3: You don’t rush through brainstorm sessions
A good Brainstorm Buddy is willing to devote time to an idea. They understand that formulating solid ideas takes time, and they don’t rush things. I always find value in a Brainstorm Buddy who is willing to devote an hour to my story rather than fifteen minutes.
#4: You are honest
Honesty is a paramount quality in any Brainstorm Buddy. When you give feedback, be honest. Writers are asking for your help to make their story better, and your honest opinion will be of great value to them. This is why it’s important that you are interested in their project.
#5: You make an effort to provide good feedback
The value of a Brainstorm Buddy who contributes good ideas and feedback cannot be overstated. When writers are struggling to push through a rut, a constant flow of ideas—no matter how strange or random, will be much appreciated. Be willing to help them work through their problems.
#6: You offer your time
The best Brainstorm Buddies don’t need to be nagged for their time. They volunteer. This proves that they not only have no aversion to helping; they’re eager to do so! Writers light up when you volunteer time to help them with an idea.
#7: You aren’t put off by mood swings
As a Brainstorm Buddy, you’ve got to understand that all creative types go through mood swings. Sometimes we love our work, and sometimes we loathe it. Sometimes we think it’s great, while other times, we feel like throwing it down a well. Don’t let these mood swings put you off. A good Brainstorm Buddy understands that this is part of the creative process, and is there to help.
#8: You ask good questions
One of the greatest things you can do as a Brainstorm Buddy is to ask questions. And not just any old questions. Not stupid questions. Good questions. Ask questions that will make the writer think; questions that will be constructive. Asking questions is one of the best ways to move forward with a creative project, or dig yourself out of a hole.
#9: You keep things on track
Something experienced Brainstorm Buddies excel at is making sure that the conversation stays on track. When things get too crazy, they tame it down. They say, “So remember, we were talking about this.” Because let’s face it; even the most generous of Brainstorm Buddies don’t have all day.
#10: You are encouraging
Finally, a good Brainstorm Buddy is kind. They are honest, but remain encouraging, understanding that harsh words will discourage the person they are trying to help. Good Brainstorm Buddies are enthusiastic and supportive at all times.
Since we’re talking about Brainstorm Buddies, I thought it’d be a good time to share an announcement. Coming up this Tuesday (May 26th, 2015), I will be hosting an event called the Brainstorm Buddy Hookup. If you have a Facebook account, I’d love for you to check it out and feel free to join in! I hope as many of you as possible can come.
What is the Brainstorm Buddy Hookup?
I’m so glad you asked. I’m hosting the Brainstorm Buddy Hookup to give you guys a chance to:
- Meet up with other writers
- Chat about ideas
- Get some feedback
- Make connections to other authors/bloggers
I’ll also have another special announcement during the event, so make sure to keep an eye out for that!
Feel free to spread the word, and I hope you’ll all stop by between 8:00 and 9:30PM (CST) on Tuesday! Until then, happy writing!