Day Two of Recovery: Connecting the Inner and Outer Worlds

Steven Barnes
8 min readMar 15

Today needed an hour less sleep than yesterday. Must be recovering.

If there was a single thing, just ONE THING I learned in that writer’s room…if I could choose only one…

I think I’d choose something that related not just to the “room” but to my daily life. Here it is:

The Mastermind. Also known as Brainstorming. Or a Think Tank. Or writer’s room.

That’s the external aspect: “two or more people working in a spirit of harmony to accomplish a common goal.”

The INTERNAL aspect would be Mindstorming, or the “Parts Party.”

I’m going to see if three lessons from the CRYSTAL LAKE room can be connected to my daily actions.

The first three that come to me are:

  1. The room needs leadership, or it will devolve to chaos.
  2. “Serious Play” is a tool for maximum creativity.
  3. Timing is everything: right idea, right time, right person

The point here is to find a model that explains what happened, prepares me for the next instance (which will hopefully be actually running such a room, with proper support), but is also useful when just by myself.

I’ll try the first one today. “The room needs leadership, or it will devolve into chaos.”

This is why human beings evolved hierarchical societies. Everyone at that table had a different agenda. Different life experiences. Different skills. Without leadership everyone just does their own thing. No series.

So…someone has to say “this is why we’re here. I need your creativity and focus. We will generate thousands of ideas, and from them, I will choose the ones that apply to the series I sold to A24 and PEACOCK. Here are the rules.”

Given that, we can move forward. Without that, we could have spent six weeks just deciding on the RULES. But that leader needs IMO to be a natural Alpha in that space.

He or she needs to LEAD, and to inspire the trust of everyone in the room, because we were all strong people with strong opinions. I am 100% sure that writer’s rooms have devolved into a power struggle. The best leader simply knows everyone’s job better than THEY know it, but trusts you to do your stuff while they handle the big picture.

Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.