InGenius is a book about creativity by Tina Seelig. Chapter Two focuses on combining two unrelated things to create a new product. I wondered whether this would be a good way to invent a new type of book. To test it, I spent an hour writing whatever came into my head using “book” as one of the unrelated items, and successive random words from the dictionary as the other related item.

I was amazed at how much fun it was. I came up with some ideas that, at least while I was spewing them out, seemed fun, visually exiting, and possibly marketable. It worked best when I allowed myself to follow trains of thought to end up in a completely different place than where I started. Writing out all my thoughts, rather than just sitting and thinking about it, helped to get me further down a path to arrive at something unique. Here is an example of a riff, starting with the term “folding stool,” that got me to the idea of printing a gift book on seed paper—each page could be planted after reading.

A folding stool. A stool that goes with a book, so you can sit and read whenever you want. A book about stools, how to make a stool. Stool is another word for poop, so you’ve got folding poop. I’ve got paper made from zoo doo, maybe the book cover should be made of zoo-doo, or it could have a packet of zoo doo and seeds. You plant seeds of thought by writing a book. The seeds could have other names, grander names. Marigolds could be strength, or passion, or qualities you desire to have. Whole pages could be plantable. The beginning of the book could be regular pages with stories about the herbs and flowers you are planting. I could team up with somebody who knows about plants and it could be part history, part how-to, and part a story. I can write creative stories and vignettes about the different plants or plant types. What would the book be called? Plant your life. Seed it. The pages are made of recycled paper. There are companies that make paper with seeds in them—buy their paper to make the book.

As you can tell if you made it through the paragraph above, it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody but you. If the ultimate goal is to come up with a great book, then the point is to brainstorm (no idea is a bad idea) until you run out of steam or hit on an “aha moment.” Then move on to a new random dictionary word.

This method has a lot of potential. I came up with two ideas for humorous books that I might follow up with. I will definitely try this method again.

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