The Book Idea – from Scratch to Draft

Before I engage in the big challenge of writing a first draft the idea has to survive a specific process. Then I know it has passed the test of love.

Sometimes the preparation for a first draft reside a little too much in the left part of the brain. I like to organize and plan. I can spend hours setting up a document with headlines and categories. It feels productive and important. And moving on to the outline can trigger an affection for symmetry and patterns. All this work I find fun but it does not take of if I also do not engage the right side of the brain before diving into writing the first draft. This part is a little less obvious and doesn’t figure as easily on a to-do list. Here I try to break it up anyway.

Explore through a writing practice.

I write to have ideas. Not intentionally but whenever I sit down to free write and get in the flow ideas pop up on the page. So I scratch and sketch and from there if I am lucky I dive in. Here words and inner pictures can unfold without the pressure to have to fit into an outline or story idea.

If I left it at that I would never act on any of the ideas they would just accumulate with every notebook so what I do. For one I mine the notebook I am keeping.

Mining the notebook

After weeks and months of keeping up with a writing practice be that journaling, prompts, or both the first step to choose a writing project is to scan the pages for flashes of inspiration and ideas. It could be a character that showed up on the page or a glimpse of a setting. For me, it is often a title I came up with while writing.

In the beginning, I just flipped through the notebook now I color code my highlighted rereading. Yellow is for ideas.

This is a mix of the left and right brain approaches. It is methodical but instead of engaging the analytical and linear way of thinking I base my highlighting on rhythm, intuition, and imagination.

The ideas I like I put in my box of ideas.

Box of ideas

I have a box where the words Love lives here are written I added and ideas. I write down the ideas I mined from the notebook and put them in here.

I used to have single scraps of paper pile up in my drawers, notebooks, and on my desk because they contained a snippet of an idea. Now I write the idea directly on a post-it or transcribe it on to a post-it note. Then I also put them in the box of ideas. I know I can return to an idea because they are kept safe with love. Now and then I go through all the notes and skip the ones that no longer speaks to me. And when it is time for a new writing project I can choose one from the box.

This is what I call from scratch to draft. Before I engage in the big challenge of writing a first draft the idea has to survive this process from practice to mining to box. Then I know it has passed the test of love.

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