Building a Book

Posted: May 5, 2011 in Writing
Tags: , , ,

Building a book.  Seems like an alright idea.  I’ve built rooms in homes, bikes from scratch, 20-inch high Jenga towers and model railroads.  A prior incarnation of my soul built Caesar’s Palace.  The one in Vegas.  So I ask you, why not build a frickin’ book?

Answer 1: ‘Cause it’s frickin’ hard.

Still chompin’ at the bit?  Well, then take the following poll and let us know where you’re at–tell the truth!!

This blog is gonna start at idea conception and go through sales.  Think of the process like building a home.  Excavate, pour foundation, start framing, electrical/plumbing/HVAC, drywall, roof, interior work (i.e. floors, wall finishes, appliances, cabinetry, etc.), interior finishes, landscaping, and finally, selling the damn thing.  Once we get deeper into this blog, I’ll figure out how the hell to analogize cabinetry to writing, but it’ll happen!  At this point, let’s start with excavation (Idea Formation).  Next blog, we’ll get to pouring the foundation (Getting it Down).

Idea Formation

Perhaps one of the most daunting tasks of the entire process.  That little gremlin inside your head aches to scream out, “Tu no tienes nada para escribir!!”  (My gremlin is Mexican, with glasses and a shabby beard.  Kind of a Mexican Gremlin Professor).  Translated: You got nothing to write!!  But you do, we all do.  I don’t paint.  I don’t play musical instruments.  I was never in dance or choir.  Wouldn’t really call myself artsy.  But, boy could I imagine fight scenes and car chases and sex scenes.  (Last one probably isn’t that special).  I promise that you have these ideas in your head too–whether it be a non-fiction DIY book, a book on programming, a romance novel or a historical fiction.  The goal is to capture those ideas, which leads to Tip #1:


You know when you wake up and you’re startled and sweating and breathing heavily?  Was probably a good story.  Probably enough to scare the crap out of you, but that’s a basis of a good story.  I can’t tell you how many ideas come from dreams.  If we use, conservatively, 5-6% of our brains, imagine what else is going on in there!  Usually, we don’t capture our dreams, or we write them off as outlandish.  That damn gremlin again!

A wild thing starts to happen after you pay attention to those dreams–they become more vivid and more frequent.  Like by cracking the door open just a little, and letting your mind know that you aren’t going to repress all the crazy shit that it stores everyday, the proverbial floodgates open.  I promise that you’ll start to fill up that journal.  Some ideas you may want to run with, others may simply become a scene in a story you’re currently writing.  If you’re “stuck” in your current story, you may come up with the “solution” in those dreams.  The bottom line is to take away that damn gremlin and let your mind go wild!  Leads us to Tip #2:


Let me take a step back and say this–there are dumb questions.  I hate that saying, “There are no dumb questions,” which is usually delivered with a condescending look and said slowly.  It’s meant to ease the embarrassment of people that ask stupid questions.  It lowers the bar, invites all sorts of silly crap.  If you’re married, you know there are dumb, really damn dumb questions (from both sides of course!).  However, there are no dumb ideas.  Start with that premise.

*A cavaet is necessary here.  I’m talking about ideas for writing.  Not ideas like, “Derek said there are no dumb ideas.  I think I’ll go drag race on the local highway!”  Ain’t talking about that!

Soon after you start filling up that journal with ideas from your dreams, you’ll want to carry the journal everywhere you go.  Why?  Because the ideas will start coming at all times of the day.  Again, you are opening a dimension of your mind that is normally suppressed by the tedium of daily existence.  Bills, complaints, clients, projects, deadlines.  Idea formation is like a faucet that’s normally rusted shut.  Break out the PB Blaster, tell that gremlin to STFU, and watch the ideas flow!

  1. budsmith says:

    Derek Blass: Well of useful info. I’ll be reading, following from home. Thanks

  2. Max Wyght says:

    Great piece. So far aware of everything that’s written here(going through 80 page pads in about three weeks xD)

    Will follow from home.

  3. says:

    I’ve written some crazy short stories mostly based on the crazy ass dreams I’ve had. Of course, Nyquil induced evenings may have also played a part in some of the craziness.
    Good article, Derek.

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