I begin a new book project by making a schematic drawing or map. A schematic drawing is a series of considerations around the central problem or idea that you are trying to develop. This model is also known by many names such as ‘webbing’ or ‘mapping.’ Schematics are used in architectural design and are useful for all types of problem solving activities.
To make a schematic drawing, draw a central circle with the idea placed in the center and draw lines out to label more detailed ideas and questions about the central theme. A good place to start is to write in what you already know about the topic and then add in what you would like to learn.
I first learned the technique in the late 80’s when working on an interior design project for a waiting room at a doctor’s office. My schematic identified the major activities in the waiting room and their order of importance, placement and the furniture and lighting needed for each activity. This simple schematic gave a layout plan for spaces needed for work and for patient waiting. A few years later, I read an interesting article entitled, “Artist’s Book’s” by Suzanne Moore in AbraCadaBrA, (Special Calligraphy Issue, No. 9, Spring 1995). Suzanne made a ‘mind-map’ drawing of how she thinks about book design.
For me, the schematic takes a complex 3-dimensional book design project and breaks it down into manageable parts, allowing me to focus on one aspect of a complex problem at a time while simultaneously viewing the whole project at once. It is a practical way to explore and analyze the job at hand, set parameters by defining and refining the problem, and synthesize what you have discovered into a finished project. Plus, it is an easy and fun way to keep ideas together and record progress on a book project.
P.S. My husband, a scientist, just reminded me that he first sees a project as ‘parts’ that he then puts together and that I see a project as a ‘whole’ and need to break it down into more manageable parts.
Thank you for reading this blog, Nancy