I am not like most writers. Ideas don’t just slam into me while I am out for a walk. I don’t get “Aha!” moments while luxuriating in a steamy tub. I have to work hard for my ideas. I have to dig deep to find them.

One of the ways I do this is by brainstorming with a partner. I find it so much easier to generate ideas when I can bounce them back and forth. It’s kind of like tennis. I can’t get a rally going without a partner.

Here is a sample of a very condensed brainstorming session with my partner, Becky.

ME: Jordan came home from school today with a new expression, “Flip Flop. Over the Top.” It’s how they learn to put their coats on. Catchy, huh? Love how it rolls off the tongue. What can we do with it?

BECKY: Hmm…over the top? The top of what? A fence? A wall?

ME: Could be a wall? What goes over? Football? Frisbee?

BECKY: How about a baseball. Two characters are playing baseball and one hits it over the wall. How do they get it back?

ME: Try climbing, scaling?

BECKY: Jumping on a trampoline?

ME: Shooting each other out of a cannon?

BECKY: Catapulting.

ME: Grabbing onto a bunch of balloons and flying over.

BECKY: All of the above?

We may use none, some, or all of the ideas in the end, but I am convinced that when it comes to brainstorming, the sum is greater than the whole of its parts. In other words, ideas will be triggered when we are together that NEITHER of us would have come up with if we had both brainstormed independently.

Give it a try sometime.

Can’t find a partner? I am always up for a collaboration!

And if you’re wondering how our characters get their ball back in the end?

They dig a hole…and go UNDER!

Corey Rosen Schwartz is the author of Hop! Plop!, an Eric Carle Museum Picture Book of Distinction. Her next book is due for release in 2012 (not soon enough in Tara’s opinion). She attended Brown University and has a Masters in Deaf Education from Gallaudet. Corey lives in New Jersey and spends a lot of afternoons at playgrounds with her five-year-old daughter, Jordan, and four-year-old son, Josh. Corey has no free time, but if she did, she would spend it scuba diving!