Since ‘announcing’ I have been writing a book, I have been approached my quite a few people who have said to me: “I’ve always wanted to write a book too! How did you do it?” Some were looking for practical advice, tips and techniques. And others approached it like it was a dark art. The thing is, I did lots of things. And there is still so much to do, mind you. But in answer to your questions, this is how I started…
Meet the Mentor
I was fortunate to work with Rob Thomsett for three years. Three years of being witness to his years of wisdom and experience in the world of project management, his talented workshop facilitation style and his straight up style when it came to explaining things. I learned so much from him, and I started to see how someone could write a great book. He’s actually written a number of books, so I started off by modelling his behaviour and thinking when it came to learning. His attitude to learning is there is always something new to learn. I also met with other writers, and found they all had this quality in common.
I talked to Rob and told him I wanted to write a book, and he said I needed a model – an outline for what I wanted to write. This model did not need to be new, it just had to be a new way of looking at current thinking, perhaps by combining a number of theories into something that resonated with me as well as my ideal reader. I played with various ideas and talked them through with him. The model you see in the Agile Project Manager is the result of months of to-ing and fro-ing, researching theories, coming up with new ideas, discarding them, coming up with more ideas. Not being too attached to anything, and knowing that anything is possible. And, of course, having the mindset that there is always something new to learn.
I would like to say at this point – “once I had my model, I mapped out my chapters”, but alas, I did not. I furiously started writing all the things I was thinking about for pages and pages, before I literally ran out of things to say. I realised I was lost. It was a bit like dashing out of the house and racing off in your car without any thought of where you are going. The first few kilometres are great, but after a while, in unfamiliar territory, you wonder where it is you are heading. So I created a series of mind maps on butcher’s paper. I gave each chapter a theme then brainstormed everything about that theme I possibly could, including references to books, articles and quotes.
Values Pendulum™ and Getting Started
I used Values Pendulum™ as guide. The values levels help us frame our thinking in terms of levels of consciousness we move between throughout our lives. You can find more about Values Pendulum™ at my coaching website. And I will talk about the levels in a bit more in future posts. With regard to getting started, in Agile we say “start slow to go fast”. The time I spent researching, brainstorming, mind-mapping and planning my chapters was time well invested. It meant that when it was time to write, I could simply write. And the ideas from there flowed more easily.
So I guess in summary, my advice to any budding writer is to ‘start slow to go fast’. Plan, research and mind map options. Share your ideas with like-minded friends and colleagues and get their thoughts. Then, well, just write. And enjoy the journey.
Are you interested in writing a book? Start slow to go fast. Plan your model, have a chapter plan then write. Next post I’ll talk about some of my ‘rules of engagement’ for writing. Stay tuned!