MF 225 : Talking out your first draft
Updated: Jun 22
On this episode, I share how to talk out the first draft of your book. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Part 1: Who’s in your circle?
Over the past week or so, I’ve been reflecting on my journey and how that has impacted the people and relationships in my life. When I left my job in 2014, it came as a shock to many. As I started finding my way outside of a traditional A-Z path, it inevitably affected some of these friendships and relationships. Today, I have many good friends who’ve been with me for many years. They don’t understand what I do or why but they’re supportive and encouraging. Sometimes, they challenge me too in positive ways. These are the friendships that I maintain and cherish. On the other side, there are friendships and relationships that have ended. The lens through which we look at life, be it career or otherwise, put us on different paths and for those relationships, it was time to say goodbye. As some have left, others have come in offering new friendships that I never imagined and probably wouldn’t have been able to form had I not taken the unexpected roads that I did.
What are some of the big decisions you’ve made and how has that affected your friendships and relationships?
Part 2: Talking out your first draft
[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode are out of print. For more, check out episode 388.]
By now, you should have done an ideation process on your book ideas, narrowed it down to one, and if you completed last week’s assignment, used a short form writing as a testbed.
If you’ve done all of these and you’re still as enthused and excited about this as your first book topic, it’s time to move on to your first draft.
First things first. Shut off your Word processor and put away your pen and paper.
You won’t need those that yet.
Around this time in 2017, I had agreed to co-write my first book. I was ready to hop onto my Macbook and start plugging away like I normally do for the many blogs, articles and show notes that I create every week. My process is to write a sloppy first draft, trying to edit as little as possible, and then go back to edit and redraft it to final form.
I was itching to do just that with this book when my co-author suggested we do something radically different. He suggested we “talk out” the first draft.
I had no idea what he meant by this.
He explained that he wanted to spend some time talking, as we’ve done over the years and retell our stories of how we got involved in a Star Trek fan film, from beginning to end. Since I had a lot of experience recording podcast interviews, he also suggested that we could record these conversations.
You might be surprised to hear that I was skeptical to the point of being resistant to the idea.
For me, the act of writing is writing: sitting at a keyboard and typing away. Talking was something completely different. At first, I thought this was a complete waste of time. It took some convincing but I eventually agreed to the idea, begrudgingly.
We decided to do 2-3 conversations a week, mostly in the evenings during his drive home. Since he lives on the West coast, this meant around 8 pm EST for me. The idea was to hop onto Skype and record these convos using my podcast set up. It was around week 3 that I started to see the benefit of doing this. As we shared our stories, we sparked memories and anecdotes that we had both long forgotten.
As we progressed, it was around mid-May, when it hit me that we were actually talking out the first draft of the book. It didn’t have a shape and there were a lot of ideas and moments that zig-zagged back and forth but somewhere, somehow we started to discover the core of what this story was.
Our “first draft” spanned a three month period from late spring to early summer and by the end, we had close to 70 recorded conversations. These conversations would serve as the foundation of the book.
Close your word processor and give your fingers a rest. Instead, open up the recorder app on your phone and start talking. If you’re doing this with a co-author, you can use Skype or Zoom, both of which now have native recording features. You don’t need fancy equipment – just a full charge, some earbuds, and your voice. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be building on this first draft.
[NOTE: the books mentioned in this episode and in the book writing series are out of print. I am leaving these episodes mostly as is and strictly for informational and instructional purposes only. I have retracted my story from the book discussed in this episode and its sequel with full reservation of my copyright. For more, check out episode 388.]
Scrivener (available for Mac, Win, IOS) is a book writing program that auto formats for self-publishing on Amazon’s KDP and other platforms. It’s a great tool with rich features that allow co-writers to collaborate through Dropbox. Scrivener has a bit of a learning curve but I’ve been a fan since 2017 and have talked to many authors who use it as their go-to. If you’re interested in Scrivener, you can use the coupon code MOVINGFORWARD to get 20% off your purchase (for Mac or Win). It’s a one-time license fee and available for Mac, Win, IOS.
Note: this section contains affiliate links and coupon codes for which the author may receive some compensation.
Part 3: What I’m reading / read
Becoming by Michelle Obama (*****): a fantastic book and one of my top recommendations so far this year. Before reading this, I knew very little about Michelle Obama’s background outside of her time in the White House. I especially enjoyed the first half where Michelle talks about her childhood and family life; growing up in the working class family in Chicago and the relationships with her mother, father, and brother. These relationships permeate throughout this book and are the catalyst for her discovery of self. I was particularly moved by the struggles she faced after she became an attorney, having worked hard in school and after, to get to a point of “success,” only to find that something was missing. Her insights into the struggle to find herself (hence the title) as she transitioned into community advocacy and academia, then to national politics are refreshingly candid. This book is a wonderful read from a person who, despite all of her accolades and success, still struggles with the same doubts and hesitations that we all face in life.
Books by John
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