Friday, April 1, 2011

BLOCK PARTY: Building a Book

Stacy Henrie is a writer of inspirational historical romance novels. When she's not writing or blogging (go here) she's reading, interior decorating, digital scrapbooking, seeing new places, watching movies/TV with her hubby, joking around with her boys, or cuddling with her daughter.-Bethany

My husband and I have dreamt of finishing our basement since we moved into our house more than six years ago. This month we’ve finally taken the steps to make that dream a reality. Getting an up close look at my first real construction project, I’ve been inspired by how many parallels there are between building and writing. Here are just a few:
A Plan – The first day my DH and some of his buddies started on the basement, I was surprised to discover there wasn’t much visual evidence they’d done anything. Instead of throwing things up haphazardly, they had taken the time to plot out how things would look and what order to do them. Even though I’m a pantser, not a plotter, when it comes to outlining, I still need some sort of idea or plan before I start a book – even if it’s only the beginning and end, or a character, or a series of scenes.
Time – Like finishing a basement, writing a book takes time, a lot of time. And that amount varies from person to person. For me right now, I’m learning to be okay with the slow but steady progress I’m making. Writing a book, or building a basement, also requires sacrifice of time. If we want the end result, we must be willing to let a few other things go.
Friends – We would not have accomplished what we have so far on our basement without the help of friends, and gratefully, friends who are experts in things like construction and electricity and sheet rock. When I first started writing, I was sort of a writing hermit. It took some time, but I eventually realized I need the help of friends – friends who can see things I can’t in my own work or who are more knowledgeable about certain subjects or who can relate to the good and the bad of building a book.
Rules and Guidelines – There are some rules and guidelines we have to stick to in our basement project to save ourselves headache later, like compensating for heating ducts and pipes. There are a million rules out there about writing, but I’ve learned which basic ones I need to follow. I also try to pay attention to the guidelines in the genre I’m writing or the agents I’m submitting to. That way I save myself some headache later on.
Perspective – I think one of the biggest hurdles to writing is not comparing our work or efforts or journey to somebody else’s. Too often we’re comparing our framed-only, concrete floor basement with somebody else’s finished, painted, carpeted and nicely decorated basement. Too often I forget that they were once where I am now – the rough draft – and that my work can and will shine one day too.
The End Goal – This is probably the greatest take away from this project. Through all the time and effort and sacrifice, I try to keep in mind the end result – our new, finished space. When discouragement sets in with my writing, I try to remember why I started this project in the first place – my dream of being published and sharing my stories/my voice with others. It’s a dream that can become a reality. 


  1. Oh my goodness, you're so right. You start with a vision in your head of what you want, and then you have to figure out how to make it real.

    We recently renovated a bathroom, so I know exactly what you're talking about. We were matching tile, paint, counter tops - all of these separate pieces - and we had try to imagine what they would look like together.

    Some of it worked, some of it didn't. We had to rip some things out and start over. Everything took at least TWICE as long as we thought it would. And even in the end, it didn't quite look like what we envisioned when we began, but it's a beautiful room and I wouldn't change anything!

    While you need a plan and an end goal, it's also nice to be a little flexible. Notice what's working and what isn't, and don't be afraid to try a little different approach (or ask for help!). Thanks for joining the Block Party, we had a blast!

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  3. oops! here we go-

    gosh, are you every right about perspective! to continue the metaphor, i looove my house- but i sometimes still covet other gorgeous homes :) thanks for posting, stacy!

  4. Sure hadn't thought about it that way before, but that's a good comparison!

  5. WHat an excellent comparison! The first three were all pretty basic good analogies, but when you got to persepctive, I took a depth breath. YES! That one is so often overlooked. Thank you!

    (I'm tweeting this post!)