Brian Herbert on conserving the water of writing

[Frank Herbert] didn’t talk about his secret worlds while they were in development, except to my mother and occasionally to other members of the family. This was a piece of advice given to him in the 1950’s by the noted western writer Tommy Thompson, the favorite author of President Eisenhower. “Save your energy for putting words on paper,” Thompson counseled. “You use the same energies talking about a story as you use writing it.” He said young writers often talked their stories to death and never actually wrote them.

My father took this advice to heart, and as he adopted it he rather enjoyed playing a little game with anyone questioning him, rarely letting out the secrets he was conjuring until they were printed. His conservation of energy was an interesting example of the man . . . almost mirroring a facet of his most famous story, Dune. In his writing he conserved energy as if it were precious water in the desert.

This technique was also an effective psychological ploy used by the writer on himself, as the energies of his stories became pent up, needing release. Ultimately ideas exploded through his fingertips to the typing keys to the page.

Frank Herbert believed his creative processes were partly in his fingertips, the result of natural processes enhanced by years of training at a typing keyboard. He described it as a kinesthetic link, in which thoughts flowed from his brain through his body to his fingers and onto paper. He tapped into something in that process, a powerful creative vein, and stories emerged.
Brian Herbert in The Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert, (New York: Tom Doherty Associates LLC, 2003), p. 309.

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"Dad didn't talk about his secret worlds while they were in development"


Paul Atreides taking the Water of Life in David Lynch‘s film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune

Brian Herbert Posted on behalf of Brian Herbert on Sunday, January 24th, 2010 under Quotations.

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