Articles / On Writing

The Benefits of an Open Mind


An open mind—the ability to see the world from limitless angles and viewpoints without passing judgment—is something that many strive toward. But how many of us can say we can say we’ve actually achieved it? I don’t think it’s a destination as much as it is a journey toward open-mindedness simply because I don’t think there’s a final result.

As a writer, there are endless opportunities as well as benefits to an open mind. When researching your novel, take the time to learn something new, to explore , to try something different. As I mentioned in an earlier Quick Tip, surround yourself with diversity. Perhaps your protagonist was going to be a lawyer because that’s a career you’re comfortable writing about. But remember that article you read last month about the stay-at-home dad who built an empire from his garage? How much fun would researching and writing about a guy like that be? Sure, it would take some extra work, looking up business plans and starter loans, but think of what you could do with him.

Once you begin to write your new leading man, remember that open mind. Step out of your comfort zone and make him a little different—not cookie-cutter. Give him hobbies that show his wide and varied interests, make him funny and fun to be around, maybe even a little goofy. Or make him super smart and nerdy. Exactly what you do is up to you, what’s important is the fact that you’re open to new ideas with your writing.

When dealing with your editor or editing team, an open mind is essential. You’ve chosen this person or this team for a reason; open up and allow their ideas in. Now that you’ve decided that your would-be lawyer is instead a self-made man who invents the next best baby-care necessity, trust your instincts when your editor or team makes suggestions about him that aren’t exactly the way you’d imagined him. Maybe he shouldn’t be the hottest thing on two feet. Maybe he should have a flaw or seven. Maybe he’s got five cats. Who knows? Keep an open mind.

And when it’s your turn to offer encouragement and critique to another author, keep the same concepts in mind. Offer your opinions as just that—opinions, and take for granted that others will not always agree with you. That’s the beauty of opinions. We all have our very own. Try to see the story from a new perspective that perhaps the author didn’t see. She will appreciate your efforts even if she doesn’t agree with your ideas. Suggest what if scenarios and offer wild and crazy endings. Focus on always being helpful and making the story the very best it can be.

It’s all about the journey. Keep those minds open and happy writing!


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