When I was originally asked the question about how much I write, I thought it was an odd question. My initial inclination was to say that I’m always writing, but that doesn’t actually address the merits of the question.
I do write a lot, but not all of it is what I’ll call creative writing, which encompasses writing my blogs, writing blogs for others, writing my articles for marketing and promotion purposes, working on my books, writing for webpages, sometimes writing before creating videos, etc. When I think about it though, most of it is. I thought I’d talk about it a little bit, just so y’all can see what I do with myself most of my days, and hopefully you’ll pick up a nugget or two. Continue reading How Much Do I Write?→
Yesterday I went to a medical billing program that I put together. The presenter is someone very knowledgeable on her subject, so I figured this was going to work out great.
by Ariel Cruz via Imagekind
Things started out well enough but quickly fell apart. It wasn’t that her knowledge was all that much in question, however. It’s that her presentation wasn’t really focused and sharp.
The problem was that she knew exactly what it was she wanted to get across, but she kept crossing information that was totally confusing me. And because I’m the type of guy who will ask questions when confused, I kept stopping her and making her clarify what she was saying. I was really confused for the first hour, and I’ve been doing this type of thing for almost 30 years.
At the break I had the opportunity to talk to a few people. I mentioned how confused I was and that maybe I was taking everything she was saying literally. Each person responded that they also had been confused and that maybe she should have broken up what she had to say so that each facet had its own time instead of trying to mix messages on the same slides. I had to agree, and felt it was a shame that others were confused as well.
After her part of the presentation her co-worker came to do his presentation. His was a bit more focused, when suddenly his terminology changed. Well, that’s not quite accurate; what he did was start using a word in a much different way than I’ve always heard it used. Me being me, I called him on it, and he wasn’t able to give me a proper answer. I let it go until the lunch break, when I went up to him and explained myself, and then he agreed and said he saw it in a slightly different way depending on the topic. The problem of course is that everyone else in the room saw it the same way I did, so he’d kind of lost his audience for awhile as well.
One of the reasons I always start with an outline whenever I’m asked to give a presentation is because I want to make sure that I get my points covered in the order I want to do them. This was point one on my post last week about giving live presentations. Sharing knowledge with others doesn’t really work when you’re all over the place. And trust me, the people in that room were pretty smart already, yet most of us ended up in a fog.
That’s why whenever I’m doing a tutorial of some kind on this blog I give the step by step processes of what I did. Or whenever I put together a list post I make sure to address each particular point before moving on to the next one, and if it’s a procedural list I make sure it’s in order.
Sometimes when we know stuff it’s hard to contain ourselves when we want to share it with others. We all need to learn how to direct our information so that we inform rather than confuse. At least I got handouts. 🙂
First, I’d like to point to another guest post of mine, this time on Rose’s Blogger Talk blog, the topic of which is Why Have A Business Blog. Thanks for the opportunity, Rose.
I’m presently working on a big health care project. It’s a short term project, but there’s a lot of technical numerical information that I have to get through to get it completed. I actually love working on things with this kind of detail, and I’m glad to have another big project after such a long time.
There’s always the question of how people work projects. I’ve changed up from how I’ve done things in the past this time around. Usually I plow my way through things, not giving any time to anything else, until it’s done. This time around, I’m spacing things out somewhat, giving my mind some mental breaks here and there. I’m doing that because not only do I want to make sure I don’t make any mistakes, but I know there are a couple of areas that are going to take me longer to get through than other parts.
This isn’t a project of my own doing, however. In May, I’m going to be doing a presentation on customer service, one day a regular seminar, the next day a webinar on the same thing. I’ll be advertising it once we’ve solidified where we’re having it. Anyway, I had to put together an outline for what I wanted to talk about, which was going to help with advertising.
This was one of those times where, once I started, I had to get through the entire thing, and, me being me, it took just about an hour to actually write the entire outline, which was 80 lines or so. Outlines are my way of doing most things when I get a chance. When I’ve created my websites, I’ve always written an outline first, as well as sketched the design. When I wrote my books and ebooks, I went with an outline. Every live presentation I do starts with an outline.
Thing is, I know people do all sorts of things. For instance, I know a writer of fiction who, before he starts writing, always writes biographies for as many people as he figures he knows are going to be in his story. If he ends up introducing new characters, he’ll stop writing the story and write a biography on the new character.
I also know a lot of people who don’t plan anything. They just start projects and believe that things will come together. Of course, those are the people who most often end up having to start all over, but if that’s their way, so be it.
How do you work on projects? I’d really like to know if there are other ways people get things done.
In step one of this series, I talked about the concept and why it’s so important to do upfront thinking. Near the end, I mentioned having an outline or a journal or both. In this step, I’m going to talk about those two items just a little bit more.
Whenever I’m going to give a presentation, I always start with an outline. I like to try to write down all the main topics first, then break them down into subcategories. This helps me focus on what I want to cover and need to cover, based on the time frame that’s been allotted me.
I do the same thing with everything I have to write, including this series. It helps me know where I want to take my content, and helps me make sure I’m not forgetting something. Having an outline doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll remember everything, but it’ll make it less likely that you’ll forget the most important things.
I have outlines for other things. Because I travel a lot, I have an outline, or list, of everything that I might take on a trip with me, whether it’s a road trip or a plane trip. As something new comes into the picture, I add it, and if something can be deleted, I take it off. I always create my outlines in Excel, because it’s so easy to modify at a moment’s notice.
At the present time I have four other books underway, believe it or not. I don’t know if I’ll finish any of them, although I expect that I will finish at least one of them since I’m halfway through. It’s a detective story, oddly enough, since I spent some time talking about that in the first part of the series.
Before I decided I wanted to write the story, I created an outline for it. I did this because in my past I’ve started countless numbers of books, and one of the things you learn pretty quickly when you write fiction is that it’s easy to go off point and start loading your story with things you just can’t remember, and you’re not sure where they came from.
Every fiction writer will say the same thing, whether they have an outline or not. J.K. Rowlings, for example, talked after the last book about the fact that she had actually planned on killing Arthur Weasley, Ron’s father, in the fourth book, but decided she just couldn’t do it, and that he would make the rest of the series go much better if he stuck around; it did! 🙂
I’ve got a nicely detailed outline for my detective story, and yet I’ve already gone off point a few times, adding things I never expected to add, because they seemed to fit at the time. It makes my outline even more important because I know where I want the story to come back to, and therefore I’ll figure out how to get back there. For someone like me who might need to leave at a moment’s notice, an outline helps me get back to where I was and allows me to continue on the path I’d already started.
For my first book, my outline was crucial because it helped me decide the different stages I wanted to take, as well as which stages needed fleshing out. For instance, in one part I decided to come up with different employee types and give a synopsis of each of those types. That wasn’t one of my original thoughts, but it came about while going through my outline the second time.
When you use an outline, it can be just be a sheet of ideas, not necessarily in any order. You’re going to go through it a few more times, and that’s when you’ll be able to establish the direction you want to go in.
Now we come back to the journal idea I’d talked about before. Journals don’t have to be overly detailed, but having one helps you keep all the players together in your mind.
In my detective story, I introduced a character whom I hadn’t had in my original outline, and decided this was someone who knew the main character when they were much younger. Suddenly I had someone in my story I didn’t know all that well, and I realized that if he was going to be in this story, I needed to know more about him.
I wrote a very short bio for him, just so I could not only remember who he was supposed to be, but to make sure I’d keep spelling his name properly throughout the rest of the story. Believe it or not, even small things like that happen from time to time to many writers, and often they’ll be missed by editors, who get so used to looking for grammatical errors and not necessarily misspelled names, especially if those names aren’t normal.
I don’t want to scare anyone by using the term “journal” because journals don’t have to be all that long. If you’re writing something up about a new character who might play a part of even minor significance, it could be as short as one or two lines.
The idea isn’t to totally detail every character who’s going to be in your story; after all, if you do that, it starts to restrict what it is you want to write about. At least that’s my theory; I do know writers who write full blown biographies of every person in their story, which once again includes Rowling. I think I’ll go with saying that if you need to know your characters better then knowing more about them in your mind will help you stay on point, but maybe minor characters can be skipped.
Writing is supposed to be about creativity, no matter what you’re writing. But journaling, along with having outlines, gives you the assistance needed to remember who your character is, what your point is, and after that, you can go wherever you want to go.
And that’s the end of step two. What will step three be? Stay tuned.