What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
John Meister Everyone has their own internal logic that works for them to tell a story or teach a subject. Some outline, some start writing, some have to start at the end and work to the beginning. What works for you? I will find myself rewriting the same section over and over again, each time adding more to it. The same thing happens when preparing to teach. Ideas come up as I create material to present... those aren't distractions, they are the next logical step in the process or the story, pay attention to those clues and follow them, then tie things together, build on them. You'll find that the natural course of things will repeat themselves if they are logical. In other words if you start talking about X, you'll find yourself always heading toward Y. The key to presenting a logical path is determining what X and Y are. It will vary on the audience, you have to consider the reader, the student, the environment. You don't always know who they are, so just go for the logical path, it will always work. Don't force the story line or the path through the subject matter, if it doesn't flow naturally it won't work in a story or a classroom, start talking/writing about it and see what goes where. Let it sit, come back to it. Does it still work? Sometimes the details will be too much for that point in the material, cut and paste it toward the back and go back to where the details sprang and make it clear, yet leave something to follow up on later, allowing the reader to want more, even though they weren't ready for it then. Give a hint, then circle back with more details, build on it, get them familiar with the idea or subject before you expose everything. I often find that I'm starting a sidebar discussion that leads into a new topic, only to flip to the next page and find out that I've been there before, which is where the logic leads. My mind isn't wired for memorization, whatever I teach has to be natural, and I find the same with writing. It won't work if it doesn't go there logically. Sometimes you have to write the same section many times before it flows. Don't delete, cut and paste in the back, at the end, in an appendix... go back and look at it again later, does it fit anywhere? You'll be surprised that you another section almost ready to move into place, or you may have said it better the first time, either way, you have it to work with, when you finally realize you've said the same thing many times, start nuking sections and simplifying. Brevity is hard work, and I'm not going to do that here, need to get back to the next book. Words come easy to me, brevity doesn't.