What kind of an expert are you?

Years ago, when I taught English as a Foreign Language, a student asked me to explain how continental drift worked. As a confident, authoritative teacher, I launched into it – and halfway through my garbled explanation, I realised several things. First, I know my geography is hopeless. I’d only recently discovered that the West Indies weren’t West of India. I had no idea how continental drift worked. Second, I was assuming that as Teacher, I had all the answers – but I didn’t. I had all the answers about the English language. Third, my whole class was also buying into that assumption, The Teacher Knows All, even though one of those students had a doctorate in geology. I stopped, checked that they understood the phrase’s meaning, then asked the geologist to explain the mechanism. Continue reading

Could your blog be your book?

Have you already written much of your book without realising? With a bit of tweaking, blogs make surprisingly good books, and here’s why.

  • road-tested content: Through writing your blog, you’ve learnt what content people click on, share, and respond to, and adjusted your course. You’re writing for the reader.
  • a community of readers: You should always build a community of readers before publishing. Your blog is exactly that.
  • natural writing style: Whenever a client’s style is going awry, I read their blog to find their natural voice. In your blog, you’re already using that.
  • street-level information: First books often make the mistake of being too general and vague, like an outline of continents. Blogs are generally close up to your work, nested in what you’re doing, and reacting to your projects. That’s exactly the gritty detail your readers need.
  • evolving structure: Each time you tag and categorise a blog post, you’re grouping your content the most natural, flexible way possible. The shape of your book is already evolving.

If you’d like to evaluate your content for a possible book, get a critique of everything you’ve written on the blog so far, to get clear practical guidance for its structure, what to include or leave out, and any extra content it still needs.

Your CALENDAR you must book…

Certain phrases tell me immediately what’s going wrong with someone’s writing. They usually look something like this: I’m hoping to write a book this year. I’m going to try do some writing this weekend. I’ll see if I can do some writing in the evenings. I’m planning to write a book sometime this year. At the risk of coming across all Yoda… Continue reading