You’re an entrepreneur in a technical field. Or maybe you’re a scientist. How about an engineer? If your work is what most people would call ‘technical’ – in other words, difficult for the average Joe to understand – writing a book about it is always a challenge if you want it to be appreciated by a general audience. After all, you don’t want your book to be one that only a handful of people understand. So how do you get across your expertise when you have complex and tricky information to impart? What’s the secret to explaining your topic so everyone
“Get my book published,” tops many a bucket list. As we hurtle towards the end of yet another year, thoughts turn to what we hope to achieve in the forthcoming 12 months. Hope is an important word, because writers need an abundance of hope. In her book, Grit, about the psychology of achievement, Angela Duckworth quotes bestselling-author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who says, “Writing is failure. Over and over and over again.” This may sound like a bleak summary of the writing trade, yet the image of screwed-up bits of paper surrounding the stressed writer, head in hands, is a prevalent one.
A date in 1997. A long-deferred date. Deferred for far too long. It is the date I am – finally – sitting down to start writing my biography of the famous Victorian cricketer, W.G.Grace. I have been researching it for months. I have even been to Australia to follow the great man’s footsteps through various Australian archives (tough work, but someone has to do it). I have filled many dossiers with pages of notes. I have gathered a library of books, which now spread out around my desk, marked with multi-coloured post-it notes. Several are already open, in preparation for
‘Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’ That’s Stephen King stating the indisputable relationship between good writing and reading; or rather, good writers and reading. The quote may be over-used, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Writers have to write, and writers have to read. They may read in a different way from people who read for pleasure but that’s because reading is work. (Admittedly nice work, but work nonetheless.) Watching a writer read, should you be so unlucky, is
Last month, on the UG blog, we covered how modern communications technology facilitates international collaborations between people who rarely, or perhaps never, actually meet. There is a closely linked theme around the dominance of the English language. This has grown in recent decades. I recall visiting a trade fair in northern Italy in the late 1980s with many visitors from the eastern Mediterranean, where the common language was French. Nowadays, with the rise of China and Pacific trade, and the internationalization of business education based on the US model, English is the lingua franca (why isn’t there an English phrase