How to write a book. Learning how to write about learning.

Next year, i’m going to write a book. There. I’ve said it now. You’re the third person to know. Unless you read this on monday, in which case you’re right down the league. It’s going to be a book about learning, based around some of the ideas that i’ve been exploring on the blog. It feels like quite a big undertaking, so i didn’t want to commit until i was sure, but now everyone knows, i guess i’m committed!

Writing the blog has changed how i write. I’ve learnt a huge amount about writing, but primarily i’ve learnt that i can manage to write regularly, and that if you write regularly in small chunks, you end up with a big tome.

So i don’t feel daunted by the challenge of writing: i feel daunted by creating the structure. You see, the blog is easy, it’s central theme is around ‘learning’ and each of the posts, the chapters if you like, has it’s own self contained narrative. I can write about mobile technology one day, about storytelling the next and about museum interpretation on the third. They are linked by being stories about learning, but there is no particular coherence between the narratives, no overarching storyline.

A book needs to be different. It needs to hang around a central theme, for sure, but there is a progression between chapters. There needs to be a coherence to the whole, something that historically i’ve not been good at. Take my research. When i was working on the PhD, i lurched from communication theory to neurology, to philosophy and educational psychology. Each lurch was fascinating, and reflected my current interests and reading habits, but it didn’t form a particularly coherent form, and that’s why i collapsed under a weight of unstructured research.

I know that the book will need a structure, and i know that writing it will be different from the blog, but i want to keep the best of what i’ve learnt here and apply it to the book. I want my thought process to be collaborative: i’ve come to enjoy and rely on the dynamic nature of interactions in the social space, the way that people comment as you go. I want to keep that. I also want to use the social media ‘tone of voice’ that i use here. I have a ‘business’ voice too, and an ‘academic’ voice, but this one falls in the middle, and i want to use it.

Whilst’ i’m not, at heart, a particularly organised person (when i said this on a call this morning everyone laughed a bit too heartily for my liking), i do appreciate having a structure to work to, so my first step is going to be to create the structure for the book. Once i have ‘chapters’ to work within, i will feel better. I’m like the kid shovelling the manure out of the stable. I like to partition the floor into quadrants so i know when i’m 20% of the way there, 60% there. I don’t like to feel that i’m just aimlessly shovelling without sight of the end.

Once i have those chapters, i think i can keep the momentum to make it happen. I’d better do: i’ve told everyone about it now, and i hate not delivering on something like that! All i need to do now is to decide what to write it on…

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Journalism, Learning, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How to write a book. Learning how to write about learning.

  1. Christy Farmer says:

    Congratulations Julian. You are right that writing a blog, fine tunes one’s writing skills. Best of luck on the novel 🙂

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