While it’s not that many words, finding and honing the right words for your message can be a daunting task. Read about Alicia’s experience in putting together her contribution for an anthology.
This experience was an awakening for me. After tons, and I do mean tons of research, it felt like I was writing a thesis and I couldn’t write anything worth presenting. I literally had about 3000 words and had to send it to a friend to edit. What I realized is that the “Bitch” (that negative voice in your head) had a purpose that I couldn’t figure out. I was trying to write for all audiences, including the most experienced, and that’s not my target audience. I was feeling utterly inadequate and was so focused on perfectionism that I couldn’t put more than two paragraphs together to safe my life. I do think I have about three more books from this, which is a good place to be for the future, but not in the middle of trying to get one chapter completed.
My take-a-ways from this project are:
1. Know your audience. I know my people are line managers and middle management. Why do I keep trying to put myself at the executive level? Not that I can’t interact with execs or even bring value, but I don’t have the same passion for that level as I do for the people who get down and dirty every day. (BTW – On Your Mark focused on this . . . duh!)
2. Don’t do too much research. My brain is still on information overload. Too much information can stifle the thinking process and introduce too many new concepts. This can easily throw a topic off track with the “kitchen sink” mentality. (Side note – Who knew there was so much information out there about my topic?! I have at least 6 months of reading saved on my computer, not including new journals and posts. )
3. Write about what you know, but be careful of anecdotal evidence. Just because something is my experience may not be true for the majority of others. Stick with patterns; one-offs are not grounds for a book.
Attached you will find my final first draft. I’m sure the editor will mark it up with the talent of my fourth grade teacher. The great thing is that I’m looking forward to receiving this feedback.
Yes, Alicia, writing is not for the faint of heart! But thanks for writing this note and articulating what so many of us deal with as we face our daily writing challenges.
Alicia’s chapter will be included in the forthcoming anthology in the Greyden Press Thought-Leadership Series, What’s Next in Human Resources. Watch for additional information on this new book, as well as other anthology projects led by Cathy Fyock.