Sometimes everything happens at once. You sign a book contract with a promise to deliver the manuscript in six months’ time, and a week later you are asked to help design a curriculum for an exciting new Creative Leadership school. The rational thing to do would be to choose. Stick to the plan and pass up a wonderful opportunity, or do the curriculum and postpone the book. But we are not only rational beings. Impulsive, overconfident, short on memory of our previous disasters. So I say yes to both.
Initially, smooth sailing. Brainstorming new ideas and structuring chapters is fun to do. Deadlines are barely visible in the distance. All is well. Then, predictably, things get tighter. Unexpected difficulties and delays, the first postponed deadlines. At some point, the realisation that there are no longer enough days to get it done. Despair and thoughts of giving up. Some call it the dark night of the soul. Then the realisation that a radically different approach is needed.
Luckily, help is at hand – I’m at a creative school, after all. Rapid prototyping is part of the THNK approach. Do it ‘quick and dirty’, try it out, and improve it. Repeat, and repeat again. Our forum experts tell us about getting products to real users within 48 hours. I won’t know if people understand my book unless I share a draft version and get their feedback. I start applying the rapid prototyping to my writing. It’s actually much easier to write a draft. Friends and colleagues are interested in getting an early version. Most of all, the feedback is really useful: I need to simplify my message, scrap repetitions, add examples. I go back to my draft with renewed confidence and energy.
Now it’s all done – the curriculum is well-established in its second program, and the book is out. In order to finish Reframing, I had to reframe the way I write.
What have I learned?
- Make mistakes early and often.
- Try things out, don't spend too much time thinking about them.
- When you ask people for feedback, give them clear instructions on what you need and when you need it by.
- Be sure to thank others for their help.
- Writing is no longer just an individual activity, it’s also a form of team-work. Others help you to get your stuff done. And it’s a lot more fun that way.
Purchase your own copy of Karim's book about Reframing.