Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method

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9780932633651: Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method

Gerald M. Weinberg -- author of more than forty books and more than 400 articles over a forty-year career -- reveals his secrets for gathering, organizing, and discarding writing ideas.

Drawing an analogy to the stone-by-stone method of building fieldstone walls, Weinberg shows writers how to construct fiction and nonfiction manuscripts from key insights, stories, and quotes. The elements, or stones, are collected nonsequentially, over time, and eventually find logical places in larger pieces.

The method renders writer's block irrelevant and has proved effective for scores of Weinberg's writing class students, who have collectively published more than 100 books. If you've ever wanted to write a book or article -- or need a fresh approach to your writing career -- try what works for Weinberg and gather your best ideas into beautiful stone walls.

Gerald M. Weinberg is one of the most influential thinkers in computer science. Weinberg on Writing isn't a computer book, though -- Weinberg describes his life and practices as a writer, enriching the text with more than 40 exercises appropriate for individual or group study.

Inducted into the Computer Hall of Fame in its inaugural year (in the same class as Bill Gates), Weinberg's career highlights have included computer programming at IBM for Project Mercury (which put the first American in space), serving on the faculty of famed family therapist Virginia Satir, consulting for Fortune 500 companies through his firm, Weinberg & Weinberg, and teaching thousands of technical professionals how to improve their communication skills.

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From the Publisher:

"Don't write your book -- build it with Weinberg's Fieldstone Method. Keep the project moving by breaking the project into easy-to-attack chunks; gather your ideas one at a time. Then stack them as you would stones in a wall."

-- Dan Poynter author of Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual

"From its alliterative title, Weinberg on Writing, to the photographs of fieldstones introducing each chapter, to this recursive metaphor -- that of constructing fieldstones into meaningful patterns: mailbox stands, walls, houses, sculptures, indeed, anything that can be built with fieldstones, this book on 'constructing' writing, so to speak, is a delight. Its author speaks from experience, having written over 40 books thus far; but more than that, he speaks conversationally and convincingly about a way to approach the all-too-often formidable task of writing.

"Weinberg's controlling metaphor for this book on writing -- the Fieldstone -- allows the reader to realize that a single fieldstone is like a single idea; that fieldstones, like ideas, are not 'uniform,' and that, just as fieldstones 'come in varying sizes, colors, textures, shapes, and densities,' and lie everywhere waiting for us to collect and use them to some productive end, so do ideas. Through his 'fieldstone' metaphor, Weinberg richly demonstrates that the human mind is not a straight thinker, but a mind-leaper, thus not 'dependent on any particular order' to succeed in writing a book or article or story. The many photographs weaving their way through the book reinforce the power inherent in a 'fieldstone' when it is used in the construction of a project, becoming dwellings, garden walls, anything useful, just as idea pulled together in coherent fashion tell stories, instruct, clarify.

"Most convincingly, rather than preaching to the reader about how to write, Weinberg shares his 40 years, not only of teaching, but of writing many of his own books and articles. The key to the Fieldstone Method is non-linearity. Thus, Weinberg speaks of such metaphor-enhancing processes as 'gathering' (prospecting for idea-stones), discovering 'anchor stones' (key words), and making piles of unused 'stones' (to jump to another metaphor), 'bits of string too short to use' -- for later construction.

"One of the best lines of Weinberg on Writing, and one every writer should commit to memory is, 'I may run out of ideas, but I'll never run out of new combinations of ideas.' In demystifying the mysterious process of writing through the consistent metaphoric grappling hook of 'fieldstones' as ideas which float in and out of our consciousness, Weinberg has written a wise and warm book on overcoming the perils of trying to write."

-- Gabriele Rico, author of Writing the Natural Way

"Part memoir, part how-to, Weinberg on Writing dispenses with the mysteries and misconceptions of craft and shows any writer how -- and how not to -- hone their skills. Weinberg's method of finding fieldstones with which to build your writing strikes me as one of the more effective metaphors for the writing craft I've ever seen. Weinberg also rightly places the emphasis on writing about what matters to you rather than perpetrating the old saw, 'Write what you know.' Writers of any stripe will go far following Weinberg's method."

-- Jennifer Lawler, author of Dojo Wisdom for Writers

"Jerry Weinberg's lessons in writing are smart, funny, memorable, wise, engaging . . . and, most important, it is all stuff that works, it's practical. What more would you want?"

-- Howard S. Becker, author of Writing for Social Scientists

"I suppose the strongest praise of a how-to writing book would be to say it's changed the way I intend to organize and write my next book. And it's true! I'm now beginning to gather information and think about the structure of my next project, and I'm going to adopt Jerry's Fieldstone Method. I think Jerry has made my writing life easier. This book is a gift to writers at all levels from a true pro with sterling credentials."

-- Penny Raife Durant award-winning author of nine children's books, including When Heroes Die and Sniffles, Sneezes, Hiccups and Coughs

"Weinberg on Writing is a strange little gem: part writer's guide, part personal philosophy, and part autobiography. As such, it has something to offer for writers of non-fiction and fiction alike -- and would also be a good read for anyone who has ever wondered where writers get their ideas."

-- Jane Lindskold author of The Firekeeper Saga

"it wasn't until I participated in one of Jerry Weinberg's writing workshops that I was able to take my writing to the next level. . . .

"I'm proof these techniques work. I've published three books, over 100 articles, and am working on my next few books. Next few books, you ask? Yes. One of the techniques Jerry suggests is that you have many fieldstones, chunks of work in progress. In progress may mean you've written two words. It may mean you've written several chapter-like things. It may mean you've written 50 words. Fieldstones allow you to make progress on any piece of work, which can allow you to finish more writing projects than you could imagine.

"If you want to start your writing career, or if you want to write better, or if you want to revitalize your writing, buy this book. "

-- Johanna Rothman consultant and author of Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds

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