How to Brainstorm for a Book: The Ultimate Brainstorming Process
It’s no secret that writing a book is an excellent way to build your personal brand. However, it can be difficult to come up with the big idea for your book and all the supplemental information you need to support it. To help you get started, this blog article will focus on how to brainstorm for a book and provide some helpful tips.
The two core concepts we’ll use in this post are the “gap” and the “statement.” It’s not enough to look at what topics are trending in your market or industry. Nor is it enough to investigate what others seem interested in. You need to bridge a gap and make a strong statement.
Think about it this way: If you were an architect in the Roman empire, you could either design buildings in Rome or in newly colonized regions. In the former case, you're contributing to an already existing infrastructure. In the latter case, you're starting from scratch. Is one better than the other? Not really. Both are different.
If you design buildings in Rome, it's harder to innovate relative to what's already around. But in a newly colonized area, bringing Roman architecture is fresh no matter how original it actually is in Rome. That's how you should think about contributing to your field vs. teaching other groups about your field.
The Gap: The Key to Brainstorming Your Book with Relevance
If you’re an expert, you know more than most people about your dedicated field of study. This means you can contribute to your field or you can teach different groups of people about your field. In both cases, you need to find a gap. A gap is something missing that’s needed to further develop the field of study.
Brainstorming Technique #1: Contributing to Your Field
Is there something currently missing in your field? Or is something off? The people in your field form a community, and, together, they are having a conversation. However, groups don’t think as well as individuals—it’s a flaw in human nature. It’s possible that the group is missing something crucial or is making a mistake.
You can contribute to your field by writing about what is missing or which mistake is being made. Remember, the point of writing and reading is to further our understanding of the world. Don’t make the mistake of trying to find something just for the sake of it, or else you risk alienating people in your field.
If you can’t find a way to contribute to your field, you can turn to teaching other groups of people.
Academic writing is a great example of contributing to a field. The purpose of writing a thesis is to bring to light new findings or a new perspective. That being said, you can contribute to your field outside of the academic world. For example, if you’re an investor, you could write a book on a concept or method you’ve created to fill a gap in your work.
Brainstorm Technique #2: Teaching Other Groups About Your Field
The beautiful thing about the world is that we can all contribute to each other’s lives with our expertise. For example, my primary field of expertise is writing. I can talk about writing to different groups because writing, just like your expertise, can benefit anybody.
If you’re going to teach other groups in a different field of study, you need to pick one group and be smart about it. For example, I could pick entrepreneurs because they’re my favorite people. As an aside, it’s not advised to pull your focus by writing more than one book at a time because you won’t be able to adequately attend to your group.
Once you’ve chosen your group, you need to find what gap they have when it comes to your field. In my case, the gap I’m filling is that entrepreneurs know publishing a book is good for business, but they don’t know how to go about it. So, I should write about how to make writing easier.
The Statement: How To Brainstorm What Makes You Stand Out
You may have identified a gap, but that’s not enough to write a compelling book. What makes a book great is how you express filling this gap with your expertise. And the way you express that is by making a statement.
A statement is simply a sentence (or a series of sentences) that express, clearly and concisely, the answer to the problem. It’s the main takeaway everyone should remember after reading your book. To be effective, your statement needs to be thought-provoking.
A good statement gives the answer to a problem (whether or not the problem was previously known) and requires people to think. It should be easy to remember and repeat, and it should not go too much into the details (that’s the book’s job).
For example, the statement I make in my forthcoming book The End of Nonsense is that the true polarization in our society isn’t between political camps; rather the divide is between those who believe in politics and those who believe in personal development.
How To Brainstorm a Book with Gaps and Statements
The way to brainstorm for a book is to first list out all the potential gaps in your field. Then you’ll want to list out the gaps for other groups you’d like to teach about your field. Looking at all these gaps, find out which you prefer tackling.
The next step is to list out all the ideas you have about the gap. I suggest writing keywords or full sentences in a bullet-point list. Once you are done, try to reduce this list to its minimum by rephrasing keywords or sentences into statements you can make.
Once you have a list of statements, order the statements from the most to the least important. The most important thing should be your book idea. The rest should be sections, chapters, or chapter sections.
Now that you have a list of statements, you need to brainstorm details and information that support these statements. Write those ideas below your bullet-point list. Upon completing this, you have a solid book plan.
For a more comprehensive explanation of how to plan a book and exercises that will create your book structure, get your copy of Write a Book That Matters by using the button below.
Article by Leandre Larouche
Leandre Larouche is a writer, coach, and the founder of Trivium Writing.