February 18, 2014

Defining BROKEN’s Structure

Two methods were used when writing BROKEN: Navigating the Ups and Downs of the Circus Called Work, and they are tried and true standbys: note-taking and clustering.

For note-taking, the Web-based tool Backpack (defunct but remains available to current customers) by Basecamp (formerly called 37signals) was used. It’s a really simple way to virtually store and organize information. Over seven months, thoughts and findings were entered into what is called a Writeboard in Backpack. What started as a short list evolved into a long one. From my interview with Book Promotion about BROKEN: The origin of a book is a list.

With clustering (above photo), the notes were copied and pasted into a document made in Microsoft Word (but could be any other word processor or page layout program), set to a large font size, printed, cut, then rearranged.

The process of organizing the notes helped with discovering the book’s chapters. This also gave a to-do list, because each chapter, with its underlying notes, also acted as a way of further reflecting on the information, making connections, elaborate, and compose the individual chapters.

What made these two methods effective was the gradual accumulation of content over time. In a way, Backpack was used as a sort of savings account for deposits of notes. There was never any judgment about whether a note was useful or not, and no formatting. There was only a commitment to save whenever a thought was reached or finding discovered.

Collecting notes of subjects, with potential, for a book’s content, combined with the process of sorting those notes—and seeing where clusters of information formed—allowed the book to eventually take shape.

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This is the fourth post, after the launch of BROKEN, that reflects on how this book was made. More to come in this series about aspects related to writing and self-publishing. Read the previous write-up: Discovered books that motivated the making of new book BROKEN.

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