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Is GroupThink Helpful?

A collective brain? A lack of individuality or creativity? The phrase "Group Think" cautions us away from the dystopian unification of logic streams, like that so gorgeously described in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Individual, creative brilliance is just that -- singular, animating, inspiration which adds and changes the world in new ways. And Group Think is just that -- multiple thoughts with many origins which coalesce into one approach. Could there be benefit to both?

One of the main reasons we continue to coach writers and teach the craft is "The Spark." The desire to write often follows a push, an idea, the spark, whose story or explanation needs to be told. It's a delight to share the spark and help our individual clients achieve a written work as a result of that spark. Over the years, we've seen the spark visit a writer and -- when the project is delayed or has taken another path as life happens -- we've seen it leave as well. The writer becomes stuck.

Enter an "Un-Stucker": GroupThink. In writing classes, clubs or online communities, writers of all ages, backgrounds, writing experience and perceptions come together to percolate on ideas. The most productive of these offer valuable critiques of your work and provide ways to advance your project without malice. In some groups, you need to have thicker skins than others: the opinions may be delivered harshly. "Consider the source," as the saying goes: if the person commenting has credibility and value, listen; if not, don't. The trick is to find a group of people who know your intention, have accomplishments themselves, believe in you, and -- MOST IMPORTANTLY -- deliver feedback in a way that is truly meant to polish and improve the work. In this way, the group helps you to determine one approach that can help you become unstuck... and move back into your spirited, individual creative space.

Take a look at communities online such as Scribophile.com or WritersCafe.org. Or, consider gathering a few neighborhood friends and taking a class together. Sometimes it takes a village to finish an individual project, so use the best of individual and group think to present the literary world a gem.

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