Bisecting the Elephant

I’ve been deluding myself with progress on the new edition of the Social Leadership Handbook. I find it helps. The original was seventy five pages of raw text, almost twenty six thousand words, commendable for it’s brevity if nothing else. Over the last week, i’ve added a further fourteen thousand words, which i’ll aim to edit down again, and taken the total of raw text up to a hundred and four pages. Plus a slew of new images. My delusion: bisecting the elephant.

The Social Leadership Handbook Introduction Page

Keeping focus is hard when dedicating whole days to writing, so i cheat and break it down to sections: read another five pages, edit out eight hundred words, get to fifty percent. I divide, subdivide and bisect the totals. I never, ever, consider the whole elephant. Because elephants are too large to eat in one sitting, even if you sit for a week.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
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6 Responses to Bisecting the Elephant

  1. rschaefe1 says:

    Hi Julian!
    Your approach sounds very resonable. I’m curious about your comments of reducing words, rather than expanding sections. I guess I’m doing things wrong by going back in my writing efforts and tending to expand sections rather than reduce. I’d be interested in your thoughts…
    Also, will your new book be hard copy or will it also be in electronic version? With all your great visuals, I could see hyperlinks over to other sections as well as to external sites. An interactive PDF or an EPUB3 version would be very interesting…. 😉

  2. Rob Warwick says:

    The more writing I do the more I have come to realise that the skill is in the hidden art of editing. And for me I just can’t do that alone, I need to get other people’s views and comments on drafts – for me it is very social. It is not unusual that the result of hours of work is less not more, but then there is that old saying ‘less is more’. And you are right, there is that stage of considering the elephant, or those meta-questions as to what it’s all been for, how the reader will engage in the ideas, how the aesthetics (or texture of the work) add to the argument. As a friend told me once, the text never finishes, but there is a time when it has to be good enough.

    • julianstodd says:

      I like that view Rob, and agree, less is often more! The thing i find most challenging is that, as i write, i come to understand better, meaning what i wrote is out of date… but i guess that’s sometimes the point of writing: not to present the truth, but to find it…

      • Rob Warwick says:

        This reminds me of Kark Weick’s comment ‘how do I know what I think before I see what I say?’ In other words, writing is a gift to ourselves as writers. Editing is our gift to our readers.

  3. Pingback: This is not right but… | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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