Saturday, April 16, 2016


It was said half-jokingly by the late sportswriter Red Smith, “Writing is easy: you just open a vein and bleed.” Hopefully, you’ll have an easier time.

My authors-to-be have given me their work in various forms: handwritten, typed, in computer files, and even over the phone as I interviewed them, later to be dictated by me into a computer file using Dragon Naturally Speaking speech-to-text transcription.

“How to write it?” means, in part, how come up with the ideas needed and how keep going when initial enthusiasm wanes?

Chandler Bolt in his Book Launch advises the writer to:

·      Fail first, then learn. Take action. Tweak your rough draft.
·      Be accountable to someone. Make and keep a commitment.
·      Take consistent action. Develop a “system” for your efforts.
·      Write a contract with yourself.
·      Remind yourself why you are writing a book: reputation, money and leads for business, growing your network, pushing your passion project…even saving the world or the community.

Bolt swears by the following simple system for generating the content and writing your book:

·      Mind-map. Put your subject at the center and then dream up topics that connect to it, like a spider web.

·      From the mind-map entries, develop an outline.

·      From the outline, write a first draft, without correcting it significantly until you have reached the end, and give yourself a due date for reaching that end.

·      For each chapter, put yourself on the clock. For example, mini-mind-map for 12 minutes, outline for 12 minutes, write for 90 minutes.

·      Eliminate distractions. Turn them all off.

·      Write in the morning, first thing.

·      Establish a writing pattern: time and place, consistently.

·      Remember that “done is better than perfect,” or as the French say [in French, naturally], “the best is the enemy of the good.” Your book will never be perfect, and your readers do not expect perfection.

·      Get help with editing: content editing to make sure the subject is covered well, copy editing to make sure there are few if any spelling or grammatical errors, etc.

     I started writing my memoir by listing on the left-hand side of the page each year from my birth year, 1942, to the then-current year, 2011. I made notes about things that happened to me, and sometimes in the world at large, by each year. Faint memories became sharper, as one thing suggested another. Leave more room than you expect to need. Scrapbooks helped, too. Overnight, I kept a pad and pen by my bedside and would jot notes down as memories surfaced. Googling places and historic events brought them back more forcefully. These tactics worked.

     As the Nike sportswear ads urge, “just do it.” Put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or even dictate it…as I am doing for much of this book.

“If you build it, they will come;” ideas, that is…readers will need some cajoling. 

If you sit down and either do nothing or write something, you’ll write.


Excerpted from my recently published Write Your Book with Me. 

Free ebook version available through my site

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