Write what you know!
When I work with people to help them write their books I find in most cases they are world
experts on themselves. They know more about them selves than anyone else in the work (or close to it)
and they also have a better understanding of the topic than anyone else.
When I say that the reply oft times is “Why would anyone want to hear my story?” The world
wants to hear for just that reason. A couple of months ago I told you that my Dad remembered the Titanic
as a news story, he had brothers die of Spanish Influenza when the boys came home from WW1, won’t it
be great to know what his thoughts were at the time? Would my daughter like to know what her
grandfather went though? I am sure the answer is – Yes.
The second most common answer I get from people asked What they are going to write about?
is “I have two or three books swirling around in my head and I don’t know which to write first.”
To them I reply… I will send you a couple of grids and the first column is a list of topics that you
want to include in your book. Make a list of the 25 must have topics down the left hand side, these will
each become a chapter, so when you have it down you have in fact created the table of contents of you
book. Start a grid for each book that is swirling around in your head, the one that gets finished first is he
book you should write first, the other one will wait.
Not only does this practice allow you to decide which book to write first it has you recording the
ideas for the other book(s) that you will get to next. Now when you are working on your book your mind
is at ease that you have recorded the ideas and you will not forget them or you don’t have to try and
incorporate them in a manuscript where they don’t really fit. Trust me, that shows up fairly quickly, you
don’t fool yourself or the reader when you try and write a chapter about something that you felt was a
burning issue even though it did not relate to the book you were writing.
Write about the things that you know, the things that you have experienced and write with
In my early days as a reporter I tried to remove all feeling from any copy I wrote, I was the Bill
Friday of the Agricultural press, “Just the facts, Ma’m, Just the facts.” Then one day I had the opportunity
to provide and editorial which was a whole different style of writing. It did not take long and I had the
opportunity for a editorial on the radio and “From the Gatepost” became the most well know thing I did in
radio. It help that I was the lead in to Paul Harvey noon news which was the most listened news cast on
the network but Paul and I did that gig for 3 or 4 years and it was good for both of us.
No, I am not saying that we should let our opinion colour or reporting of the facts, but I do know
that people enjoy hearing someone else’s viewpoint. Don Cherry made a pretty good living with that.