Weinberg on Writing – A Review

Weinberg on Writing – Gerald M. Weinberg

I kind of explained it here as to how I came to be reading this gem.  So yes, to me this book is more than a group of fieldstones, it is a book of precious gems!

Scott had given me a snapshot of the fieldstone method that Jerry introduces in this book via an email but the true message was clear; read it.  So I did, and boy am I glad.  Not only did I learn a lot about a very solid method for writing, it also provided plenty of fieldstones for my own book.  Now I don’t want to describe the method in this review, that’s up to you to find out via reading the book for yourself.  What I’d like to do is explain what the book has done for me.  I will however give the analogy (as I see it)…

Collecting fieldstones (writing ideas, prompts, inspirations, etc.) in order to create your fieldstone wall, or any structure for that matter (your book).  It goes much deeper than that, but you can read it.

I’d also like to mention that I had the added pleasure of spending some time with James Bach while I was reading it.  Himself being the inspiration for Jerry creating and writing about the method providing me with obvious benefits.  To quote Jerry from our email exchange – “I don’t recall if James said so, but he was the inspiration for Weinberg on Writing. It started with an impossible question he asked, just as you are doing. :-)”  James does mention it in Buccaneer-Scholar (another book I believe people should read).

So, let’s start with that; the fieldstone that made me contact Jerry. “Aikido”.  That’s what it was.  Would I have contacted Jerry if I was reading his work on another subject and saw that word?  No, because I would not have recognised it as a fieldstone.  I asked Jerry a few questions in that initial email and he replied rightly in requesting that I finish the book first, as many of my questions may be answered by doing that.  That tells you how powerful that fieldstone was.  It was only 30 odd pages in, and I had to drop the book and start digging.  There was one other very striking element to Jerry’s reply.  He asked a question to ‘start my creative juices’.  It was such a powerful question that it provided a whole new element to my book and produced another 5000 words of writing that very evening.  So I must thank Jerry for those creative juices.

I do like books that tell a story.  I’m pretty sure that’s why I struggle with straight text books.  I would much rather read a story, or hear an analogy, and learn from that than to be prescribed a certain method.  Jerry has mini stories spread through the book.  The opening stories are my favourites.  You need to be passionate about your writing subject, and I loved reading how Jerry discovered that.  From that point Jerry take us somewhat logicically through the fieldstone method phases:

  • Gathering
  • Organising
  • Knowing when to stop

OK so there are more than that, but in essence those are the key phases for me.  Jerry also offers up methods for dealing with writers block (which I particularly enjoyed being a new writer and only having just experienced my first bout of it at the time), plagiarism, recycling other texts, writing style (the analogy of mortar holding fieldstone’s together was very important to me), your writing environment, and even publishing & dealing with editors.

If you read the book, find all the mortar in this post… there is plenty.  ;0)

Another very valuable aspect of this book is the exercises.  These are spread out throughout and are from Jerry’s own writing classes.  If you take the time to do these you will discover so much more.  I haven’t done them all, but I plan to as I’m progressing through the various stages of writing my own book.

There were sections in the book that I skimmed over as they didn’t provide me with a level of energy to prompt anymore than that.  I felt OK with it as Jerry also explains in his book about the energy of fieldstones.  In previous readings I have laboured over certain sections and re-read them many times in an effort to either understand or get more from it that I did from the first read (a definite contributor to my slow reading).  I think from now on I won’t labour so much.  I’ll be in touch more with the energy that it provides me, or doesn’t!

If you write, in whatever form, I would recommend you reading this book.  Everyone is different, everyone has a different order to the way they write; the way they construct their writing.  However I think that this book provides a very flexible method that can be adapted to many of these different writing styles.

A thank you once again goes to Scott Barber for suggesting it, and to Jerry Weinberg for writing it.  OK James, I’ll thank you too for being the inspiration via that impossible question.  ;0)

6 thoughts on “Weinberg on Writing – A Review

  1. By coincidence I read this book on a recent trip through the Scottish Highlands. All the castles and stone walls kept my mind working on how far we can extend the analogy; strong walls, weak walls, thick mortar, thin mortar, smooth mortar, mortar with pebbles, etc.

    I’d like to hear a bit about his specific collection and storage methods. I know that times and technologies change, but it’d be nice to know how his specific methods have change as well. I’m currently using Instapaper for online stones, but have not yet gotten good at collecting offline stones.

    @qamob

    • Ask him… he may do a little blog post about it. :0)

      My offline stones are collected via a journal. I have it with me on most occasions but if not I’ll have a draft email on my phone and can quickly add it to that if need be (or a draft SMS if data coverage is poor).

      Just keep trying different methods until you find one that works for you.

  2. Pingback: *Insert text Here* | Martial Tester

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