What do YOU like??

Dearest valued readers,

I am STUCK. And I need potential readers’ insight to help me to find which way to go, so I am looking for YOUR input on this…

My book is about creative mothers. It is jam-packed full of useful insight and information. But I am wondering how to structure the information so it is not too bitty. I feel that I need to create a structure so there is something pulling you the whole way through the book..

How do you like to read a book like this?

Do you dip in and out? Do you read from one end to the other, no matter what?  If there are tasks do you do them?

My ideas for structuring it include:

  • just as standard chapters – which is as it is right now
  • as a map to the terrain of creativity – using metaphors such as crossing rivers and scaling mountains for dealing with the various obstacles to creativity?; 
  • as individual lessons (like the Artist’s Way) with one chapter a week for 12 weeks with assignments?
  • taking the rainbow metaphor that is already there and using it as a structure – so each major theme has a colour…
  • using the metaphor of a hero/heroine’s journey in terms of the myth of the creative rainbow mama -a kind of fictional framing device such as that of The Alchemist or Celestine Prophecy? (  but I am concerned that this might put off a lot of non-alternative/ non-spiritual women or those who do not consider themselves “really” creative…)
  • Do you like step-by-step practical books which tell you what to do?
I know it’s hard because you haven’t read it – I’m just wondering what works best – it may be totally individual, or there might be one approach that works for a majority of creative mamas…
Also what would YOU want to see in a book like this? And what are your pet hates?

  1. Alicia C.
    Alicia C.07-10-2011

    Hi! I’m pretty new here, so I don’t really know much about your book. BUT, I am a creative mother! If I were to be enticed to buy a book on this subject, here’s what I’d look for:
    1) Chapters are good. Short ones. I’m a mom and don’t get a whole lot of time to read! Even if there are 1,00 chapters, I at least know that I can finish one chapter at a time fairly easily.
    2) I like the idea of assignments. A weekly plan is really good, but don’t make it too rigid. Sometimes things pop up and you just can’t stick to the schedule. You get behind and give up. Maybe two to three projects per week.
    3) Another option might be to have one major project a week, just broken down into three or four different tasks that could be completed one day at a time.

    Here’s my idea of a crative mom book that I’d snap up in a minute:
    The projects/tasks are broken up into four parts. The first three involve having your children help you. I’m thinking, for example, if you were to make a wreath (just the simplest idea I can come up with!), have the kids help make flowers, decorations, etc. on the small project days. Then, when mom finally gets a chunk of alone time, she can use these pre-made items to create the wreath. If mom wants to write a poem, have her choose the subject and then on one day, brainstorm with the kids about words that would fit with the subject. Another day could be coming up with rhymes for the words. Finally, mom gets time alone to create her poem and has a great wealth of ideas to choose from!

    Am I making any sense? Guess the bottom line is: A book that breaks up projects/creativity into small pieces that moms could actually envision being able to do. A book that allows mom to include the kids into some of the creativity.

  2. Rachael @ The Variegated Life
    Rachael @ The Variegated Life07-11-2011

    My favorite, favorite, favorite book on writing is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Each chapter is short (3 or 4 pages at most, in a large-ish typeface) and to the point, and I keep going back to it to get little nuggets of wisdom from this chapter or that chapter. I recently read Hugh MacLeod’s Ignore Everybody, which also has short chapters, each telling about just one idea. For whatever reason, I really like that structure for books on creativity.

  3. Dreamingaloudnet
    Dreamingaloudnet07-11-2011

    Thank you so much Alicia and Rachael – good to know that my gut instinct was right. The problem is that in editing it I am reading huge chunks in a go and so the verys hort chapters made it feel too bitty. But you’re right, that’s how a mama would be reading it,a nd I agree totally about Writing Down the Bones – that’s whiy I like it too. The thing with my book is the chapters all flow on from one another, they’re not totally stand alone like Goldberg’s so there is flow, I was just when reading it in one sitting, wondering if there needed to be more flow.

    Alicia I have lots of stuff about creating with kids as well as by yourself- interesting idea about how to merge the two – and good to hear that’s what you would want. I was half wondering if I should drop the creating with kids bit, if I was trying to do too much, but on reflection it is a vital part, and something that distinguishes a book for mums on creativity, rather than just a general book on creativity.

    Thank you so much for your feedback. Any other mamas your feedback would be much valued.

  4. Things Hand Made
    Things Hand Made07-11-2011

    I really enjoy reading your writing and occasionally leave a comment so thought I would leave one today. Your books sounds very interesting and the sort I would consider. To be honest I am a very english person and can be a bit stuffy if a books becomes too much like a self help book. I don’t need a book that changes my life but I need one that keeps nudging me along the right path. I like short chapters, step by step projects, practical tips. Occasionally some american books can be a bit patronising and the author sells the ideas as though no-one has ever thought of them before. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear the ideas. Oh dear this is starting to sound like a ramble. Is any of it making sense?!

  5. Motherfunker
    Motherfunker07-11-2011

    Hi, tried to comment yesterday but my iPhone was having none of it.

    I really like short chapters, and the sense of a thread, a meandering pathway running throughout. I am personally useless with overly complicated projects. I like the concept of open endedness. For example, the kids have some FAB colouring books by Taro Gomi, called The Doodle Book We have Book 1 and book 2. They’re as thick as the yellow pages, and the Japanese drawings are loose and cartoony. I know there’s a bunch of copy-cat stuff out there now but these are my favourites. Each double page has a started picture, ie the skeleton, and then some words to act as a prompt. the finished product is therefore very free as it allows maximum creativity. I’ll give you some examples:

    ” Dress these boys as grown ups ( simple line drawing pic of boys )* say something boastful ( pic of two men facing each other with empty speech bubbles) * give each person a name ( grid with 24 faces, each with different facial expressions, hairdos etc etc… ) * draw the invisible man sitting down for breakfast * give them socks ( picture of a simple giraffe and an emu type bird ).

    These are great because they s-t-r-e-t-c-h the imagination in different ways.

    I would offer creative exercises that will set your readers free to explore, think and create in their own unique ways. You kind of want to encourage everyone to be creative by starting them off but leaving masses of room, open-endedness and breathing space. And if you do it as a step–by step, or try to timetable it too much that may work for some people but I personally get anxious when I have to be creative within someone else’s timetable is imposed on it!

    My advice would be to act as muse and prompt rather than sit colouring in too much for people. If that makes sense!

    X

  6. Dreamingaloudnet
    Dreamingaloudnet07-11-2011

    Thank you, thank you. What wonderful input MF and Things HM. The self help-iness is another line I’m trying to walk with care as I know it can be a real turn off for a lot of people.

  7. Sarah
    Sarah07-11-2011

    Chapters are good, assignments are good. I have friends who *love* The Artist’s Way. I have yet to read it.

    I love sidebars in books like that – little blurbs or little ideas.

    I used to like books that spelled everything out for me, but now that I’ve read a few of those and gained some confidence, I like books that give me inspiration and ideas.

    So I guess the question is, what kind of woman are you trying to help? That could help you settle on a style.

  8. Dreamingaloudnet
    Dreamingaloudnet07-12-2011

    Thanks Sarah. I have lots of inspiring quotes in there. And I am more an ideas person rather than really detailed projects.

    That is the question – I have a bad habit of trying to appeal to everyone which doesn’t really work… I just don’t want to cut off potential readers… it also depends who will publish it as to whether it is more self-help or creative projecty, each publisher has their own niche.

    Thanks to those of you who tried to respond but experienced blogger problems – I know how annoying it is. Sorry, no idea why it happens;

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