by Karen Ball
Thanks for your thoughts and comments last week. Loved seeing your excitement about getting into a brainstorming group. It really can be a blessing unlike any other. So how do you go about getting started? Well, first, let’s take a look at the ground rules for effective brainstorming. There are several of them, so this week we’ll consider the first three:
1. Steep your sessions in prayer.
Say it with me now: The most powerful thing I can do is pray. Drives me crazy when I hear people say things like, “Well, I guess all I can do is pray for you.” Hel-lo! There’s no more powerful action than prayer! So when you’re ready to jump into this world of brainstorming, the place to start is…you guessed it: with prayer.
From the beginning, Brandilyn Collins (who had the idea for our group) covered every step in prayer. As did we all when we joined. Submit your desire for brainstorming and fellowshipping to God. Ask Him to guide you to the right brainstorming partners. I have no doubt that each of the women in our group was chosen not by us, but by God. There’s just no other explanation for the amazing blending of personalities and hearts we share now. And be open when a name comes up and your response is, “Really?” God knows who we need far better than we do.
When your group is set, bathe the sessions and preparations in prayer. We start each session with someone sharing a devotion and a prayer. There is always such wisdom in those devotions. But let me say this: be open to God changing your mind about what you’ll share! Gayle DeSalles, one of our brainstorming group is probably the most prepared person I know. She’d been working on her devotion for the group for weeks, maybe even months. But the morning she was scheduled to share, she sat down and said that God had told her to share something different. And what she shared was stunning. The truth and power of her words struck us all, leaving us in tears. You’d better believe our focus was on God from the get-go, all because Gayle was open to God’s leading.
Be open to Him. Submit every step to His guidance and blessing. And oh! How wondrously present He’ll been during your times together!
2. Trust is essential.
Say it with me, now: No one is here to steal my story. In point of fact, they’re there to know your story inside and out, and to help you refine and strengthen it! I know that building trust takes time, and that many of us who enter into brainstorming sessions do so with people they don’t know well. That was the case with me when I started with this group. I knew a few of the writers well, but others I met for the first time when we gathered. I was okay with that, though, because I knew and trusted Brandilyn—and because it was so clear to me that this was where God wanted me.
Starting out, your trust isn’t in the people in your group. It’s in the God who draws you to the group. The longer you’re together, the deeper your trust will grow.
3. Check your ego at the door.
Say it with me: Ego has no place in a brainstorming session. If your focus is on yourself and your ideas, on whether or not someone accepts your ideas or listens to you as much as everyone else, then it’s misplaced. And you need to “step away from the session.” When you go into a brainstorming session, your focus must be on (a) the One who has breathed creativity into you, and (b) the person whose story you’re brainstorming. In other words, focus outside your self. This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s a place to give of your ideas, to share with a heart of service. Yes, sometimes, your idea will be the one that makes all the difference. And sometimes none of your ideas will strike a chord. Either way, just be willing to share and give, and leave the results to God and the other writer.
This also means if you throw an idea out there and no one seems to click with it, just let it go. Move on to the next idea. And the next. Now is not the time to get married to your own creative genius. Instead, it’s the time to just open the spigot and let it flow. As one of our group said, “Give, give, give—but have no ownership of your ideas.” They’re not for you, they’re for the others.
Are you sensing a theme here? If not, I guess I need to call my brainstorming sisters and ask them how to be more clear! In case you missed it, here’s the theme:
Brainstorming isn’t about being served, but about serving.
When we come to the table ready to share with abandon, ready to trust the God who has drawn us to the group, ready to give without ownership, amazing things will happen. Blessings beyond just writing books. Give it a try, and you’ll see!
Next week, we’ll look at the last three ground rules. Then I’ll share how we structure our brainstorming retreats. Can’t wait to see what you all think!