My lass let me know there was a typo in my recent post on Transformation. I’m thrilled that she’s reading them (!), but she triggered many thoughts about my writing approach. I thought I’d share how I deal with blogging, articles, and writing in general, as a ‘show your work‘ effort. And, in a sense, solicit your thoughts on approach, editing, and topics (amongst other things).
It starts with my commitment to two blog posts a week. And I’m pretty sure I average that, since while I occasionally only get one, I also occasionally get three (say, during a week at a conference with mindmaps). That means, however, that sometimes I’m brimming with ideas and have them queued up a week or two in advance, and sometimes I’m writing them at the last minute (*cough* this one *cough*). When I know I’ll be on the road on a particular week, I definitely try to have them in the hopper in advance.
Regardless, I tend to write each in one fell swoop. Something sparks a thought, and I rush to get it down. Sometimes I’ll have an idea elsewhere, and jot myself a one line reminder, and need to generate the full prose. But my writing’s often like that: once I’m going, I have to let that full idea gestate. Even when writing a full book (as I’ve done a time or two ;), I outline it in a go, and then write sections in a burst.
Now, I write in several channels: my blog, my committed articles, and of course books. And, not surprisingly, I write them differently. The blog comes out ‘as is’. I do reread it after it’s first done, typically, but as my lass discovered, it can have flaws. I reread my Trends article after posting, for instance, and noticed a couple of flaws. (I’ve fixed them, of course, similarly when folks comment in one way or another about something I’ve left confusing or wrong.)
My articles are different. I write them typically in one go, but I always hang on to them for at least a day, and reread with fresh eyes. I think that’s obligatory for such efforts. In one case, I have an editor who reads them with a careful eye, and always sends back a revised version. I don’t get to see the revisions (which is frustrating), but the articles are always improved. Editing is valuable!
For books, as I mentioned, I outline it, then write sections. And, depending on the book, the experience changes. With Engaging Learning, it had been percolating for so long it kind of flew out of my fingers onto the page. For Designing mLearning, it was different; I outlined, and wrote, and as I got further in I found myself rearranging the structure and going back to add things. The Revolutionize L&D book was closer to the Designing mLearning book, with two changes. I didn’t reorganize as much, but I kept going back and adding stuff. It was hard to finish!
With my books, I’ve always had an editor. The ones from the publisher varied in quality (good experiences generally), but I also have m’lady serve as my first (and best) editor. And I’ve learned to truly value an editor. The benefit of a second eye without the assumptions and blinders the writer brings is great!
The ideas come differently as well. My blog tends to get whatever I’m thinking about (like this). My articles tend to be a deeper dive into whatever I think (or we agree, with my editor) is important. I keep a list of potential topics for each, and take whatever feels ‘right’ for the month.
Books, of course, are a bigger story. For one, you need a publisher’s agreement (unless you self-publish). My first book was based upon my research for years on games and engagement. The mLearning books were publisher requests, and yet I had to believe I could do a proper job. Revolutionize emerged from my work with people and orgs and looking at the industry as a whole, and was something I think needed to be said. My latest, on myths, was also requested, but also something I felt comfortable doing (and needed to be done).
(Interestingly, on the requested books, I first checked to see if someone else might write it instead, but when the obvious candidates declined, I was happy to step up. I got their voices in anyway. ;)
The hard part, sometimes, is coming up with topics. The commitment to two posts a week is a great catalyst for thinking, but sometimes I feel bereft. I welcome suggestions for topics for any of the above as well. Someone asked what my next book would be, and I asked them what they thought it should be. However, I’m not ready to write a memoir yet; I’m not done! Thoughts solicited on any or all of the above.
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