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Paul Buscemi's column for Monday January 29th, 2001.

As our writing careers continue their pre-launch preparations, it's time we touch down with Flight-Control. Those brave individuals who once, armed only with a slide rule, sent men to the moon. "Our" Flight Control consists of a network of industry friends, fellow writers, or anyone whose creative or professional opinions we respect. Sure our family, "just loves those little scripts," but they may, just may be a tad biased. In my first month of career launching, one lesson has demonstrated itself again and again. The relationships you build within the industry will build your career. Network, network, network. Or, as I like to think of it, put together a top notch Flight-Control that would make NASA drool.

Wherever you live, if you build up a network of friends who have similar goals - then you've created a team behind your goal. You also become a member of a team supporting your friend's goals. However good it feels to help yourself, it is even more gratifying when you help others. When you have a team of people all following that principle you can launch your career "To infinity and beyond!" (Just ask Buzz Lightyear.) Here's a great way to get your Flight-Control together for some mission strategizing (no slide-rule needed).


Recently I attended a brainstorming party. The host was Laura Brennan, a writer who has written for many television shows including, The Lost World and The Invisible Man, as well as just completing her first romantic comedy feature: First Kiss. As far as I can tell, she is the inventor of "The Brainstorming Party" and describes it like this:

"I wanted to bring together people that I like from different areas of the entertainment industry who could come up with ideas for themselves and each other. I had been reading a lot of books on creativity and brainstorming, and I thought rather than just having people come over and talk about what they are doing, instead, participate in brainstorming games. To make it sound really fun, I called it a Brainstorming Party."
Brennan adds, "the word ?party' makes people want to participate and you can bribe them with food."

The food was quite good. Even NASA knows the right diet is critical to all personnel. In the case of writers, rich deserts and caffeine blessed beverages are the basic food groups. (Well actually most writer's eat well, I'm sure. Okay, so I'm the caffeine addict! I admit it. Happy?)

Good food aside, the Party was filled with Brainstorming Games. First we broke into two groups for what Brennan describes as "traditional brainstorming." The participants would outline their recent career plans or goals, one at a time. The other members of the group could throw out ideas for that person's goal. More importantly the group helps the individual discern the underling "want" behind their goal. I call this, the "why do you want this?" part. This is useful too because you start to look at your goals in a different light - which can lead to new ways of pursuing them.

After that, Brennan guided the party guests in "clusters." She describes clusters as, "a game I learned a long time ago when I was taking a class on creative writing. It was one of the ways we came up with ideas of what to write about. You came up with an idea or one word (concept) you wanted to write about. You then (listed) associations of that one word. Out of that, you had to write a story." Brennan then applied that idea to career building. "I thought it would be fun to explore it as a way to come up with ideas for career goals."

Our clusters went like this:

We would write a statement in the center of a big piece of butcher paper. A statement like: ?Building relationships with people who can hire you.' Then everyone starts writing down his or her ways for doing that. When we were finished we had twenty-four different ways to pursue those relationships. Before the party was over we had similar lists for 4 or 5 other career building blocks as well.

So as you assemble your Flight-Crew, remember the power (and good eats) a Brainstorming Party can offer. If you want to read more about Brainstorming, Brennan recommends these books:

"Five Star Mind" by Tom Wujec.
"A Whack On The Side Of The Head" by Roger Von Oech.
"Jump Start Your Brain" by Doug Hall.

STEP 2: Network, network, network. Look for opportunities to help others with their career goals, plans or activities. It's very gratifying - and will come back to you, ten fold. Assemble your "Flight-Control" and Brainstorm with them.



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