Brainstorming Book Idea
Some people may already have their one singular book idea clear in their mind, you know exactly what it is you want to do but for a lot of us, we're creative people, we have a lot of ideas and they're maybe sort of half baked and maybe there are things we haven't even thought of yet or things we love but we don't realize could potentially turn into a book so I think even if you think you know what the best book idea is, I still recommend doing some brainstorming just to make sure there aren't other amazing ideas sort of hiding in your brain somewhere. So I recommend brainstorming a whole lot of ideas first and then narrowing it down to the one or ones that you like best and really want to pursue first. It's also totally legit to have a list of like this is a whole ton of ideas that I someday want to do. Life is long, there's time in the future but figuring out what you want to focus your attention on first and foremost right away and get going on. So some tips for brainstorming, I'm su...
re you guys have heard a lot of this kind of thing before. This is not rocket science but it's really good to remember not to censor yourself when you're brainstorming. In the brainstorming stage, there are no bad ideas. It could be the craziest wackiest stupidest idea ever. I once had a brainstorm at work where the end result that we kind of knew we had reached the end of our brainstorming capacity when we came up with the idea of doing a book about pancakes and printing it on pancakes. Okay that's a really bad idea but you get the idea. Just keep the ideas flowing, really clear a space and a time. I find if I sort of think oh yeah I'm gonna be thinking about this in the background, I'm gonna percolate on it as I go about my day, you might come up with some good ideas that way but really taking an hour and just being like this is all I'm gonna do right now. I'm gonna sit down and just take a minute and really get everything out of head and onto paper or in the computer if you prefer. Which leads me right into the next point I wanted to make which is finding a note taking medium that works for you. I'm not one of these organizational guru people who's gonna sit here and recommend a particular like it has to be on 3 x 3 inch post it notes or something. Whatever, is it in a notebook, is it on index cards, post it notes, in your phone because then you can do it when you're on the train, on your computer, whatever it is, figure out what the most organic easy painless way for you to get a whole lot of ideas down is and use that. And find your preferred highlighting method because what you're gonna do once you've got all your ideas is you're gonna wanna go back and mark the ones that are the most exciting to you. So maybe that's literally a high school yellow highlighter, maybe it's stickers, maybe it's just writing a star by things or circling them, doing some color, I do a lot of color coded word documents in my world so whatever it is, actually think about this stuff. It seems so sort of obvious but I think you're much more likely to come up with good ideas if you've created a receptacle in your system that is easy and fun to use and doesn't feel onerous. God forbid you're stuck trying to use excel or something. Unless you love excel in which case go for it. So, when brainstorming ideas, some of the things to consider are your authorial voice which is just you and how you sound and how you think and how you make visuals and your flavor basically. Your aesthetic. So I think voice is often used to refer to writing and aesthetic is often used to refer to art and illustration but I think there can actually be quite a bit of bleed over between the two. You can have a voice in your art and you can have an aesthetic, quote unquote, style in your writing. So thinking about both of those things and how they interplay. A big one to think about is your personal passions. What are the things you do, what are the things you make time to do in your busy life when nobody is paying you to do it, there's no other incentive to do it other than that you care deeply and want to? Similarly, your side projects, personal projects, what do you make when you have time to make things on your own, what do you find yourself drawing? Photographing, writing about, all on your own. And all of this adds up to this point which I made really large on this slide because I think it's really important which is to think about the book that you and you alone can bring into the world. It can be really daunting and intimidating to walk into a bookstore, be that a traditional, independent bookstore bookstore, be that the store in a museum, wherever you like to look at books and there are so many books and you think, "Oh my god, every book that could ever be written "has already been written, what could I possibly bring "to the table that's new and different?" But you are a unique individual, singular snowflake of a person who has never existed before and you do have ideas in you that only you can execute and I'm gonna talk more about that as well but think about what could you create that you know? Nobody else could create it or if they did create it, it wouldn't be the way you would do it, it would be different. All of this plays into your unique point of view. How does the way that you see the world differ from the way that other people see the world? When you have conversations with people and you find yourself saying something, some topic that interests and the response you most often get is, "Huh, I never thought about that that way." There you go, right there, that's something to pay attention to. What are you great at giving advice about? What do your friends and family come to you and ask you about all the time? What is the thing that you know like the back of your hand and people trust you about? How are you weird? How are you fascinated by topics? What catches your interest? What makes you stand out? All of this is pointing you towards your potential authorship. Another thing to think about and this is on the glossary that Jim mentioned is categories. Publishers think in something we call categories and this can be confusing or opaque if you're not inside the industry. When I first started in publishing, many, many, many years ago, when I was very, very young. I was completely confused by this, I was like well what if one day I want to work on an art book and the next day I get interested in a cookbook and there's this sort of desire to maybe be a generalist but really the way publishing tends to work is you drill down and you get expertise in a particular category. So my category is art and design. I just sort of listed a whole bunch of other categories here for your reference. Things like craft books, decor books, these are all, the reason I have these here is they're all books that visual creatives are often involved in in some way, shape or form. Cookbooks, humor books, children's titles and much much more beyond that you can basically see in the bookstore is a category. And editors do specialize in acquiring to a particular category. So think about what your categories logically would be based on your interests and your style and your abilities and that'll take you a long way when you're brainstorming as well. Okay, so, this is a little exercise for the folks watching at home, we won't do it right here in the room right now but it's a brainstorming exercise that you can pause and do. And the first thing is literally to just get out a whole bunch of whatever you have in your desk, papers and post its and notebooks and your computer and all your stuff and play around with some different note taking techniques and highlighting techniques until you find the one that feels the most just like easy, organic, comfortable, it just feel like an extension of your brain right on the paper or whatever it is. Then literally step two is prep a space. Your desk, your bed, your sofa, outdoors, at a cafe, wherever you're gonna do it, have your space ready and set a 15 minute timer, an actual timer, like on your phone that's gonna beep at you. And in those 15 minutes, you're gonna aim to get down 100 ideas and some of those ideas are gonna be garbage and that is completely great. It's not just fine, it's awesome. So just boom, boom, boom, as many as you can get down. Then step three is to go back and highlight, say, like the top 15 ideas on that list and then slowly but surely out of those 15, maybe you put them alone on a fresh page to look at them again, narrow it down to 5, maybe go walk away, get a cup of coffee, come back, think a little more, narrow it down to maybe two, maybe one and this I think sort of distills a lot of all those ideas in your head. They're captured now, they're not going anywhere, you're not gonna forget them, you're not gonna lose them but you've also narrowed it down to what you want, that one idea that you want to run with kind of for the rest of this class basically.
For your recommendation, do you find that brainstorming individually and with a group is better or do you find a process better or do you do both?
You know, I think it's really interesting actually and I think it depends a lot on how you like to work and what kind of a worker and creator you individually are and you probably know this about yourself. Some people work best collaboratively and some people work best head down with their blinders on, they need to concentrate. Some people are gonna come up with much better ideas if they're batting around in conversation and some are not. Maybe it falls out along this sort of introvert extrovert lines but not always honestly. And if you're not sure which one of those is actually gonna work better for you, most people when you hear that, you're gonna be like oh yeah, I wanna do that one but if you don't know or you like both ideas, I do recommend trying both. I think the interesting thing about brainstorming in a group or collaborative brainstorming is it tends to lead to more collaborative projects. If I'm brainstorming with one or two other people, I think we're more likely to come up with ideas that we want to do together rather than ideas that I'm then just gonna go over here and do by myself. So that's another thing to think about. If you're looking to work on a collaborative project, you probably want to bring in those collaborators and talk about ideas with them from the very beginning whereas if you really wanna do your own thing solo, then maybe a solo brainstorm is a better bet.
Cool thank you and then here's a question from another one of our students. Sort of a multi step question. Can you define what falls under art and design? Does that include books that are primarily visual and can it include art instructional books?
Yes. It includes both of those things. I'm actually gonna give a ton of examples of visual books in I think two lessons from now, maybe, if I've got that right. But just in the short version is yes, those big beautiful art coffee table books that you see in a museum store that are expensive and lovely, those art books and a small book that you buy that's gonna teach you how to draw hands, that is also falling under the category of art book and then as well as I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of other, people hear art and they tend to think drawing and painting but it's also photography, graphic design, some fashion design, a lot of other categories can fall into this umbrella of art. And there is this category I'll talk a bit more about later but that's called self help creativity. So if you go, you would actually find these books in the self help section of the bookstore, not in an art section but that the classic one of all time is the Artist's Way, right, things that are gonna help you use creativity to actually better your sort of emotional and psychological state of being and perhaps help you get over creative blocks, be more creative as well. So all of that stuff and probably a few other things I haven't thought of yet fall under this large umbrella of what I mean when I'm talking about art and design books.