Gerald M. Weinberg, author of more than sixty books, reveals his secrets for collecting and organizing his ideas for writing projects. Drawing an analogy to the stone-by-stone method of building fieldstone walls, Weinberg shows writers how to construct fiction and nonfiction manuscripts from key insights, stories, and quotes.
The elements, or stones, are collected nonsequentially, over time, and eventually find logical places in larger pieces. The method renders writer's block irrelevant and has proved effective for scores of Weinberg's writing class students.
If you've ever wanted to write a book or article—or need to revitalize your writing career—don't miss this intimate glimpse into the mind behind some the computer industry's best books. Topics include learning to care about what you have to write, exercises in playing with your words, when is it plagiarism, the structure of creation versus the structure of presentation, stimulate your memory, getting published, and much more.
Gerald Weinberg self-published before self-publishing was cool. He's been supporting himself on his writing since the 1960s, and with only a few exceptions, he's been his own publisher. Jerry isn't just a writer. He's also one of the foremost experts in computer science. He was inducted into the Computer Hall of Fame the same year Bill Gates was. Jerry's also consulted for Fortune 500 companies. Explaining complicated tasks is one of Jerry's great skills. So when he turned his attention on explaining how writers work, he came up with one of the best guides for writing I've seen. For fiction and nonfiction writers alike, Weinberg on Writing works on every level. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Self-publishers: "Don't write your book–build it with Weinberg's Fieldstone Method. Keep the project moving by breaking the project into easy-to-attack chunks; gather your ideas one at a time. Then stack them as you would stones in a wall."– Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual
Science Fiction and Fantasy: "Weinberg on Writing is a strange little gem: part writer's guide, part personal philosophy, and part autobiography. As such, it has something to offer for writers of non-fiction and fiction alike—and would also be a good read for anyone who has ever wondered where writers get their ideas."– Jane Lindskold, author of The Firekeeper Saga and other novels.
Medical Writing and Novels: "I found it to be inspiring, uplifting, and affirming—valuable even for someone who thinks she knows how to write books. It was also breezy to read and full of the amusing anecdotes that I associate with all Jerry Weinberg's books. Of course, I also enjoyed having things that I have always done unconsciously identified and discovering that they were good ideas. Made me feel competent!"– Terra Ziporyn, Novelist and co-author of The New Harvard Guide to Women's Health
Children's Books: "I suppose the strongest praise of a how-to writing book would be to say it's changed the way I intend to organize and write my next book. And it's true! I'm now beginning to gather information and think about the structure of my next project, and I'm going to adopt Jerry's Fieldstone Method. I think Jerry has made my writing life easier. This book is a gift to writers at all levels from a true pro with sterling credentials."– Penny Raife Durant, Award-winning author of nine children's books, including When Heroes Die and Sniffles, Sneezes, Hiccups, and Coughs
Science Writing: "Jerry Weinberg's lessons in writing are smart, funny, memorable, wise, engaging . . . and, most important, it is all stuff that works, it's practical. What more would you want?"– Howie Becker, author of Writing for Social Scientists
Teaching Writing: "Part memoir, part how-to, Weinberg on Writing dispenses with the mysteries and misconceptions of craft and shows any writer how — and how not to — hone their skills. Weinberg's method of finding fieldstones with which to build your writing strikes me as one of the more effective metaphors for the writing craft I've ever seen. Weinberg also rightly places the emphasis on writing about what matters to you rather than perpetrating the old saw, 'Write what you know.' Writers of any stripe will go far following Weinberg's method."– Jennifer Lawler, author of Dojo Wisdom for Writers
Technical and Managerial Books and Articles: "I've been working on improving my writing for about 20 years. But it wasn't until I participated in one of Jerry Weinberg's writing workshops that I was able to take my writing to the next level.
If you want to take a writing workshop but don't feel you have the time or the money to spend a week at a workshop, buy this book. Work through the exercises–yes, all of them. Listen to Jerry's advice.
If you want to start your writing career, or if you want to write better, or if you want to revitalize your writing, buy this book. Don't let this year pass without obtaining help from the best teacher on writing, Jerry Weinberg."
Writing Lesson Number One
Never attempt to write what you don't care about.
Previously, school had tried to teach me a different rule:
Write what you know about.
I've violated that school rule countless times in my career. In fact, I start most of my writing projects because I don't know about something. For me, writing about a subject is one of the best ways to learn about it. And, of course, if I don't care about it, why would I want to learn about it?
What would you really like to write?
For many would-be writers, this is the hardest exercise of all. They've never in their lives allowed themselves to think about what they wanted. So, put aside everything your teachers told you, your parents told you, your boss told you, your spouse told you, or I told you. Dream your dream.
Would you like to write about how to play pinball? What it feels like to canoe a Class Five rapids? Your grandmother's knitting? What's wrong with the design of some computer system? Peace in Ireland? What you'd like your children to know about you? Something to amuse your grandchildren? How you get in touch with God? I can't tell you. This is where you have to find out for yourself.
Can it be more than one thing? Certainly.
Are you allowed to get it "wrong"? Absolutely.
Can you change your mind later? Definitely.
But right now, let your heart tell you what you would you like to write. Then write it down—just the title, or titles. Any more than that is optional.
Don't be disappointed if you can't identify what you really want to write. Quite likely, you'll find many answers, but none will be the final answer. I knew when I was eight years old, but I didn't know I knew until about forty years later.