Contents of this page:
- Start in the middle
- The hunk of rock
- Do you really want to write a book?
- Understand the impact of feedback
Start in the middle
Writing a good novel: your idea that you had should probably be in the middle, not at the start. Everything else should radiate out from it. What if it were true? What else would be true? How can you pull the reader along so that the last thing they discover is your core idea?
The hunk of rock
I know I’ve given this advice several times, so I must have written it up in more detail somewhere, but this is the only version I could find online.
(Note to self: write it up in more detail and put it in here.)
Do you really want to write a book?
Neal Ford gives criteria on how to decide if a book should be written (Starts a bit before 8:00)
Understand the impact of feedback
Feedback is very useful. If your writing is to be read and understood by anyone but yourself, it’s a good idea to find out what other people think of it. Then you can decide if and how you want to act on what they tell you. But when and where and how will make a difference, and the difference it makes will be very personal.
I found that if I got feedback too early on in the process, before I was happy that what I had written was ready for an audience, it was stressful and counter-productive. It made me scared to re-enter the document or revisit the feedback in order to act on it, because every time I did, I felt terrible about what a terrible job I’d done.
But I also discovered that there were some people, who I had a closer relationship with and who understood my writing process, that I could show an early draft to, and they would give useful feedback. This is because they knew what would be useful and what would be counter-productive. They could give me broad-brushstroke feedback on the shape of the piece, without giving any detail on specifics.
It’s also worth noting that you can also have an impact on all of this. So for instance, in one case I asked for feedback too early on, and I didn’t explain to those giving feedback that it would not be helpful for me to receive detailed feedback at that stage. It’s not just about finding contributors who understand your process, it’s also about creating them by knowing your own process and being able to explain it to others. In the case I’m thinking of, there were time constraints - deadlines, and times when people were available - that forced me to ask for feedback earlier than I normally would. I thought it would all be fine and I would just cope, but what I learnt was that it had a much bigger negative impact than I anticipated.
The kind of feedback you want may be different to me. You might want it at a diferent stage of the process, and the impact it has on you may be different. So the important thing is to discover what works for you, and then build your learnings into your process.