30+ years in business managing projects and change. Latterly mentoring young people as they start doing this work. The urge arose to capture what I say to them for broader reach. I thought it might be a booklet - turns out there was a bit more.
Here are some thoughts on my writing method, which didn't belong IN the book.
I approached this book as I suggest you approach planning any change. This was certainly a change for me, in that I had never written a book before. However I had worked from my home office before, and I knew two things about the practicalities of that: I would get easily distracted; I would start late and finish late. So, lessons learned. All the same it took me a long time to buckle down and give the book top priority; I was still active as an interim change manager, and of course any client came first.
The start for me was a brainstorm on the scope of what I wanted to say, and the audience to whom I wanted to say it. I know there are different schools of thought about writing, where one of them, notably including John Le Carre, just starts with an idea and sees where the writing leads them. My feeling is that a work of non-fiction, and indeed any change programme, has to have a framework within which to work. A plan of what to communicate, in what order, and to what effect.
I read and skimmed a lot of books across many non-fiction areas from autobiography to instructional manual. Using that experience I defined a structure, style and size that I felt worked best for my target audience. You might be surprised that I include size as a target. You might argue that the book should be whatever size is required to do justice to the subject. I argue back that such a subject is elastic, that the audience interest and patience is finite, and that I would go crazy if I didn’t know roughly how much I needed to write.
Next I somehow came up with a list of chapter and sub-chapter headings that I felt could facilitate both a narrative flow through the book and also a dip-in approach by the reader. Exactly how I did this is shrouded in the mists of time, and my poor memory. Of course this list flexed a little as I put together the content, though pleasingly the overall framework remained secure.
I knew from previous experience of writing articles and presentations that I try to build the whole thing in my head and then get it down right and complete first time. I even think that approach may have worked when I was a younger man, although it is risky for me and fraught for anyone awaiting copy, because there’s nothing visible until almost the last minute. This does not scale to a whole book. Another lesson learned; just write stuff as it occurs to you and don’t worry about getting it completely right until (much) later.
Another challenge is that I have a grasshopper mind; I can be deeply into something and tangential and almost unrelated thoughts will appear. It’s good to have a set of pages onto which these can be swiftly captured for future action without becoming a distraction now.