A BLOG DEDICATED TO PROFESSIONALS WHO WANT TO WRITE BOOKS

The human touch

Authors often come to me to help them write because they want to spice up their book with anecdotes. What better way to take the dryness out of a conceptual topic than adding the human touch. That usually raises the question, though: Do you have the complete stories needed to condense into good anecdotes? Complete [...]

Read More      No Comments »

Tool Obsessed

In my book-writing workshops, I offer many tips about the process of producing a winning manuscript. But more often than not, the questions people most want answered are those about tools: Beyond a word processor, what software do you use to keep track of your research? What do you use to brainstorm ideas? And what [...]

Read More      No Comments »

Three’s the charm

The world’s best authors often make comments that suggest that rewriting is more important than writing. Hemingway’s classic line was this: “The first draft of anything is shit.” He said he rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms “39 times before I was satisfied.” I believe this kind of thinking inspires quotes of lesser-known [...]

Read More      No Comments »

Your crappy best

A computer designer in Tracy Kidder’s venerable Pulitzer-Prize winning book, The Soul of a New Machine, was fond of saying, “Not everything worth doing is worth doing well.” He was talking about product development, and he was on track to produce a commercial megabit in computer technology. But that notion of doing less than your [...]

Read More      No Comments »

How many words?

How long should your book be? I write a lot of management and business books, so I recently posed that question to a number of business editors. The result? Nobody quite agreed. I thought the editors would say 50,000 to 60,000 words, or 200 to 250 typed pages. I figured they would want shorter manuscripts [...]

Read More      No Comments »

To self-publish…or not

Self-publishing gets a lot of good press these days. It’s faster, easier, cheaper, more profitable, a better deal—choose your superlative. But depending on your goals, the decision to choose self-publishing is far from a no-brainer. I’ve done both, so here’s my two cents for professionals writing books: Seriously consider self-publishing if— You’re a celebrity with [...]

Read More      No Comments »

Metaphor for life

In his essay, “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell had some famous words of advice: “A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? [...]

Read More      No Comments »

Quadruple your time budget?

Authors can learn a lot from Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. A psychologist and Nobel-prize winner, Kahneman points to flaws in human thinking. One of them is the “planning fallacy.” In simple terms, the fallacy is this: Most things take a lot longer to finish than we think, because we don’t think rationally. [...]

Read More      No Comments »

The unconscious elephant

“When the thinking isn’t done, the writing can’t begin.” That, in effect, is my motto when I get stuck writing. If I can’t push ahead in composing the next paragraph, I figure I haven’t formed a complete thought. Or at least a thought worthy of publication. My mind simply has to do more work. But [...]

Read More      No Comments »

Find your fascinations

If you’ve started on a book manuscript and gotten to the point of feeling “lost in the forest,” you should try an exercise suggested by John Butman. John, whose work I lauded in my last post, recently published Breaking Out: How to Build Influence in a World of Competing Ideas. His exercise is called “fascinations.” [...]

Read More      No Comments »