Writing to explain

2007

Many able management trainers and coaches balk at the idea of turning their ideas into a book. But doing so isn't as difficult as you might think.

Many able management trainers and coaches who happily provide copious and detailed handouts to augment seminars and workshops balk at the idea of turning that same material into a book. But - as Darwin famously discovered when Wallace's letter plopped through his letter box - if you don't set out your ideas, somebody else soon will. So why not sit down, write away, and see what happens.

The temptation to flash out every scrap of knowledge owned to justify yourself in the eyes of other specialists in the field is likely to produce an intimidatingly hefty wodge of pages as a first draft.

But though aiming for peer recognition may be the spur needed to get ideas on paper, to continue chasing that false hare is likely to leave non specialists - the book's intended readers - as much in the dark as they were before they started reading.

To keep them alongside you'll need to pare material down while constantly intoning the mantra: "Bulky tomes intimidate the bulk of readers,"

On being told to do something differently, a person can only respond and change habits where active alternatives are suggested. For this reason - once a first draft is finished - it's worth going through it and striking out all "don'ts; can'ts; shouldn'ts; mustn'ts, nevers, etc."- setting them on one side for possible re-instatement at a later stage - and re-jigging the text with plenty of encouraging 'to do's.'

The imaginative processes needed to learn new habits can all too easily be stultified by being set down on paper. Exercises which have always been successful and simple to accomplish during hands-on sessions are likely to have unintentionally ridiculous consequences when committed to a page because language fit for practical sessions, where nods and gestures can amplify meaning, simply doesn't carry the same weight when written down.

Take time to practise what you're preaching as you write so that you can evaluate how practicable your instructions are for lone novices to follow.

Learning to be open minded enough to ditch material, to question content, to keep abreast of new developments whilst writing, and to alter structure where necessary, turn out to be important parts of the organic process that a decision to write sets in chain.

Be prepared to accept that ideas which seemed to encapsulate the very essence of the original concept may not eventually find their way into the finished work.

Some writers consider case studies as crucial to methodological writing. But to obtain permission can be expensive and time consuming, and to publish examples without permission is just asking for a lawsuit. Unless a publisher is pressing you to do so it's best not to go down that road. Use instead your recall of relevant exemplars and extrapolate from those.

Choose a title that fits well on the book's spine; a title that will grab attention and make prospective readers want to pull out the spine. If the cover so revealed evokes the spirit of the contents, people are likely to leaf through the pages and become sold on buying.

The book should fit well in the hand. Lots of busy people who want to gain a bit more know-how, read in transit. What they can't easily carry they won't readily buy.

Sharing information has never been easier than it is now, but despite the proliferation of instant blogs and quick fix sound bites there is still a voracious market for the thoughtful exposition of good management practice.

If you are an experienced practitioner whose methods have stood the test of time, why not open out your practice to a wider public and share your unique experience by writing to explain?

Be assured that if you do so, no one will gain more benefit from the resultant book than you yourself.

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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.