I have two messages this week for Out of the Box.
First, as a writer, I think it is always best to think out of the box. Attended a workshop this past weekend and the presenters had a few exercises. They divided the group up into four people each and handed us a word. We had to create a scene around that one word. My group’s word was rock. We didn’t really think outside the box. Our scene involved the hero throwing a rock into the heroine’s window. But another group got the word fire. You would have thought they would have come up with a scene that involved flames of one kind or another. But they didn’t. They used the word fire as in he got fired from his job. That is thinking outside the box.
That is another reason that when you brainstorm, you need to come up with at least 25 ideas. The first 10, at least, will be pretty much what everyone comes up with. If you dig deeper, you will get the unique ideas that are – out of the box.
Secondly, to think out of the box – you might actually need a box, an idea box. The two presenters brought their idea boxes to show. One had a black file box labeled – Ideas. The other presenter’s box was more flat and big enough to lay 8 ½ by 11 paper flat in it. She showed us how she started out with a folder of ideas and then it grew into the box. When she pulls something out to work on it, she puts it into a clear document holder and removes it from the box. Their boxes are stuffed with all their notes, photos, anything that inspires them and when they hit a wall and can’t go any further – they pull an idea out of the box.
One of the other authors in attendance said that she has used an idea box for years and that with one story; she kept pulling out this idea but couldn’t get it to work, so she would bring it to critique to get ideas from her group, they discussed it and she put it back in her box. She kept doing this, trying to figure out how to make it work. Eventually, while showering, she came up with how to use the idea in her story. If she hadn’t had it in her idea box, saved, she might have totally forgotten about the idea. Because she saved it, she had another story that eventually sold.
If you don’t have an idea box, I hope this will inspire you to start one and start thinking out of the box.