Aside

I sits, thinks, and writes (and shop)

So much of the last few months has been focused on writing the book on strategy. And while I’ve been in the midst of it all, I haven’t really shared a perspective or view but having just done the draft of chapter 4 of 8, I’m ready to share some observations.
The first thing to point out is that writing a book is nothing like other writing. Unlike blogging which is its own little narrative, writing a book has to have a narrative flow over much more dense information. When this (now silly or insane) idea of writing a book came up, I did an internal scan of “could I do it”. And since I write and actually like writing, I was so sure the writing part of this would be ‘easy’. And I was wrong. Way wrong.
2nd thing of note. I have always thought of writing as a rather solitary exercise, but the actual process of doing an A+ book is nothing like that. It involves: developmental editors, publishers, the publishers marketing team, the publishers online team, your technical reviewers, the person who connects you to the publisher, the people you interview for the stories you want to include and … everyone else who has an opinion about your ideas and who wants to ‘help. It’s not only not a solitary process, it’s a group huddle. But what I’ve learned is that this is akin to having a baby. My parallels between having a baby and becoming an author.
1. While it is 1 person carrying the baby, more than one person conceived of it. In my case, Harry Max did the first wave of conceptualization noting that most strategy models talked of “large-s” strategy (those strategies that shaped the relationship of company to the market) but no one had talked about the models to support ‘small-s’ strategy (that thing that happened in the company) which form actually more of our decisions.
2. Just like having a baby requires pre-natal care, being an author requires care of thought. This comes in the form of a developmental editor who makes sure you don’t talk about what you know, but what others need to know. This distinction may seem small but it means getting out of your head as someone who already owns the domain to slow it waaaay down so someone else can get it in the way you want. (and sometimes when babies don’t get enough care, they are not very healthy when they are born… the parallel in the book industry…these books are “self-published” rather than driven by a notable publisher).
3. Delivering the baby usually involves many people in the delivery room; some of whom you wonder why they are there in your most personal time. The parallel should be obvious by now. There’s a lot of people watching, advising, touching, and so on in a time of great vulnerability. Writing a book is an incredibly creative act. That is, if you are writing something original and creating something that hasn’t yet been served. You are inventing ideas and approaches. And yet so many darn people are watching, advising. They do it from love but sometimes you just wish you weren’t so visible to so many people.
So I do sit, and think, and write. I do it from coffee shops. I do it in the middle of the night when my son and husband are asleep so i don’t take away from family tie. And after all my solace to think, I start to iterate and shape and mold ideas further with this collaborative team. And then I meet with lots of people who guide and shape and restructure and critique. Hard, and time consuming, but also fruitful.
In between, I shop online in ways I’ve never shopped. I find net-a-porter and shopstyle.com are two sites I can ‘wander’ to give myself a break between writing. I do it ‘just for a minute’ and then boxes start to arrive. Today, 3 came from this weekend’s writing sprint. I must have been working hard.

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