As I was reminded recently, a sounding board is of infinite value to a writer, no matter what day, age, or genre they may write in.
The sounding board not only reflects your ideas, but takes the little golden nuggets out of your waffle, and helps you craft them into workable narratives. Quite frankly, the amount of writing I would have achieved - had it not been for the sounding boards in my life - is negligible.
I met up with a writer friend earlier this week, who was stuck on a story from her WIP series. We bounced ideas back and forth, and finally came up with something that worked as a narrative, and - more importantly - was powerful enough for her to feel excited, and passionate, about writing. Talk about a win :-)
For my current WIP, The Caretaker of Imagination, the plot went through many revisions, but would never have reached its current state without the benefit of my sounding board (in this case my partner). We were on holiday in Tongariro, and I’d been working on this novel (my first go at creative writing since it was a requirement in high school) for about a month. I’d written three chapters, one of which I was happy with, and the other two which I absolutely despised. I spent most of the four-hour trip down there plotting the story, and then sat the poor guy down in the evening to nut out my chapter-by chapter breakdown, whether he liked it or not (fortunately, he either liked it or was willing to pretend that he liked it. Either way it worked for me).
I think there are two main benefits to a sounding board. Firstly, that you are forced to listen to your thoughts out loud. I’ve often found that ideas, swimming around in my subconscious, are brought to judgement when said aloud, and pretty quickly at that. Writing ideas down also achieves this, but not as well, I think, as hearing yourself say something utterly ridiculous.
The second benefit is breaking out of your creative limitations, or, if you like, creative ‘blocks’. Sometimes it is because of your life experience, but most times it is just due to one-track thinking. When I think about one idea, over and over again, it creates a rut through which my thoughts most easily flow. The more I think of that idea, the deeper the rut becomes, until I am so stuck on that one narrative I cannot, for all the tea in the world, think beyond that rut.
Enter sounding board. They hear the idea, and the first thing they say is a eureka moment. It most likely isn’t that special, really, but because the one-track-rut has become so deep, anything new is both refreshing and brilliant. They create a side-road from the rutted thinking, and begin the outside-the-box thinking process up again.
About Zenobia Southcombe
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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