Monday, April 22, 2019

Brainstorming & FaceTime for Writers

by Any Mulligan @AneMulligan

First and foremost, I love to brainstorm. It’s my favorite part of writing, where you take a skeleton of an idea and flesh it out. I love how one suggestion or minor comment leads to another that leads to another, and so on until you arrive at the perfect scenario. It doesn’t matter the genre, I can brainstorm with the best. 

I learned long ago to use FaceTime or similar technology. It’s helpful and makes you feel like you’re in the same room with your CP. That said, FaceTiming with another writer comes with some cautions.

In 2010, as I worked on a new manuscript's outline, a brainstorming buddy, Sandra, called me. She proceeded to tell me there was a new app for Macs and iPhones called FaceTime. It wasjust what we needed for brainstorming face-to-face, instead of on the telephone.

That should have been my first clue. Sandra's a known jokester. I have the photo to prove it. 

Now, I love technology—although I'm a tecno-doofus—I still like to try it all. I know the tech support dudes at Apple are rubbing their hands together, gleefully awaiting my next call for help. They need new fodder for the lunchroom comparison game. You know the one. It's similar to “Name That Tune,” only it’s “Name That Dolt.” 

However, I’d navigated Skype, so I figured I could handle FaceTime. I downloaded it with ease and congratulated myself. I should have known to stop there. But I thought how hard could this be? I mastered the download. 

Sandra was waiting for me, so I clicked the icon. The window opened up and I was on camera. Did I mention was in “writer mode”? I don't put on makeup when I'm working? I barely run a brush through my hair. The only author I know who dares show a "Writer Cam" photo of herself is Tosca Lee, and I'm no beauty queen. 

In that little window I looked like my mother-in-law. She's 95. Every pore, every wrinkle, every blemish vied for attention in the camera's eye. Nobody should be subjected to that, including me. Sandra could just wait while I went to put on some make-up. And fix my hair. I heard her laughing as I turned off the camera.

Twenty minutes later, I swallowed my fear and tried again. Okay, I still wasn't Tosca Lee, but at least the camera didn't tremble. I called Sandra. We connected and she held her cute little dog, around which she peeked. Was she hiding something? Like no makeup? Hmmm?

I guess my point is use FaceTime or Google chat or whatever to brainstorm with critique partners. Adding another dimension or sense when brainstorming, increases the chances of breakthroughs. Just beware. The camera intrusive; so is the microphone. 

My son sat at the breakfast bar, eating, while my husband plunked away on his banjo, practicing. She heard it all: the clink of a spoon against a bowl, the slurp of the milk, the tinkle-plink of the banjo strings. She even questioned the hub's speed when he slowed down the tune. But when my son belched, albeit politely, Sandra's laughter rang out. 

Heaven knows my family entices laughter, what with our dogs and their antics, but FaceTime had crossed the line. It revealed way too much. 

So writer beware. Have your hair done, your makeup on, and your family locked away prior to opening FaceTime ... or suffer the consequences. 


Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall sweet tea. She's abestselling novelist, and playwright. Aneresides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her husband and a rascally Rottweiler who demands play dates with a whippet and a labradoodle. You can find Ane at her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitter, andPinterest.


  1. Great tips Ms. Ane. I'd do my hair; except I don't have any. As for makeup before FaceTime; it won't help. Each morning I look in the mirror, I am reminded that God has a sense of humor. Thank you so much for sharing yours with us ma'am.

  2. I can definitely see that happening. Thanks for showing us the humor along with the horror!

  3. Thanks for the laugh. I live in a small town where lots of women go without make-up in public. Sad to say, I haven't progressed to that point, but I admire any woman with enough confidence to go bare-faced.

  4. I am finally get brave enough for face-time on FB live. Yeehaw.