I’m a writer. I blog, I write poetry and fiction, and I have notebooks full of ideas for future projects of various sorts. However, it’s been years since I have attempted any larger projects.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been consuming a lot of books and podcasts about creativity, productivity, and writing lately. Guys like Mike Vardy, Erik Fisher, Merlin Mann, and Jeff Goins have created content that has challenged and inspired me to get off my seat and start creating and shipping more stuff. And after years of talking about it and brainstorming without getting anything done, I decided it was time to act, so I began outlining what would be my first book: a short e-book about the mechanics of writing, taking the classic elements-of-style approach and adding some personality and humor. Sort of a smart-alecky Strunk and White. Writing and editing is what I know, after all; like Liam Neeson, I have a particular set of skills. (Unlike Liam Neeson, they will only help any imperiled loved ones if my proofreading skills could cripple the morale of would-be assassins.)
Almost as soon as I started outlining chapter topics and doing a little bit of writing, I got bogged down my schoolwork, so I decided to back-burner this thing for a couple of months, but I’ve still be collecting ideas and working on it a bit at a time.
This morning, I listened to a recent episode of Jeff Goins’ excellent podcast, “The Portfolio Life,” in which he interviewed Ann Handley about her book, Everybody Writes. Based on her years of experience in publishing and marketing, Handley has created an easy-to-read handbook on writing technique and style that has wit and personality. Basically, the kind of book I was planning to write, but better and based on more personal experience in the marketplace. I haven’t read her book yet, but I’m eager to pick it up because it really sounds like a great read.
So…what do i do with my ideas? I guess I could write the book anyway. There are lots of books about writing out there, right? What’s one more?
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I was excited about writing something, but it wasn’t necessarily this book. Don’t get me wrong; I could totally have fun with a project like this, especially after reading dozens of writing handbooks over the years. But, honestly, I really only came up with the idea while trying to brainstorm side-hustles to make some extra cash. I figured that I have a good grasp of writing basics, and I’m basically the office grammarian; so why not put something short together and see who would be interested in reading it, or better yet, paying for it?
I don’t want to give up the project completely. I think working through the material will only help me sharpen my skills.
So later this spring, readers of the 4thDaveBlog can look forward to a new recurring feature: brief posts focused on the art of writing well, addressing elements like grammar, structure, and style. My hope is that these posts will help you improve your communication skills in whatever venue you need to use them. And who knows? Maybe one day I can compile them into an e-book to share with y’all.
I have to admit, hearing that interview was a bit disappointing, because I felt like I had missed the boat and lost my chance to make an impact in this way. But rather than throw up my hands and give up, I’m choosing to see this as a challenge to work harder and hustle to discover my own unique contribution to the discussion.
Your Turn: Would a recurring feature on this topic be useful to you? Are there any particular questions about writing/grammar that you think I should address? Let me know below!
3 thoughts on ““Hey! That was MY idea!””
Yes! I’ve got a trove of stories i started, developed characters for and never finished because i got no skills.
Dude I am all over this. So the cool thing about art is it’s not a contest. You can have two winners. Your book will offer things that her book will not, and vice versa, so I say go ahead and write it. What’s stopping people from reading both?
Seriously though, I am confident that even if these sound the same in concept, in reality they will be very different things. I’ve been there where an idea sounds similar to mine and I get discouraged. But writing is SO personal; you just can’t compare these things.
There are so many grammar and punctuation errors in that Web guy’s comment I don’t know how it got approved. 🙂