Weinberg on Writing
Weinberg on Writing
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Weinberg on Writing

Last updated on 2014-07-30

About the Book

Ed Tittel writes: "Anyone who knows Weinberg's work knows he concocts a magical melange of insight, intelligence, and humor to deliver memorable and useful bits of wisdom on any number of topics. I'd always wondered how he managed his writing process, and now that I've read this book I feel like I have a much better idea.""For those of us -- including me -- who write for a living, the "Fieldstone Method" he propounds in this book helps to codify a very workable approach to this work. It's not always what works best for me in terms of meeting other people's schedules and deadlines (which Weinberg believes are best ignored, refused, or otherwise gotten around) but it is a very workable method for longer projects where I have time to research and collect information, then polish it, and put it into book form.""What I like best about this book (and about every one of Jerry's books that I've read) is that it makes clever and effective use of anecdotes and stories -- parables, almost -- to make its many and various points. I would recommend this book to anyone who's interested in the process of writing, or who wants to improve his or her personal writing process. I'd love to see it become a staple text in creative and technical writing classes, where the usual teaching materials are often far drier and less engaging.""Two thumbs up!"

About the Author

Gerald M. Weinberg
Gerald M. Weinberg

I've always been interested in helping smart people be happy and productive. To that end, I've published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. I've also written books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the nine-volume Quality Software series.

I try to incorporate my knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of my writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, software engineers, and people whose life-situation could require the use of a service dog). I write novels about such people, including The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, Jigglers, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, Where There's a Will There's a Murder, Earth's Endless Effort, and Mistress of Molecules—all about how my brilliant protagonists produce quality work and learn to be happy. My books that are not yet on Leanpub may be found as eBooks at <http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JerryWeinberg>; on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000AP8TZ8; and at Barnes and Noble bookstore: http://tinyurl.com/4eudqk5.

Early in my career, I was the architect for the Project Mercury's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. I won the Warnier Prize, the Stevens Award, and the first Software Testing Professionals' Luminary Award, all for my writing on software quality. I was also elected a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and chosen for the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame.

But the "award" I'm most proud of is the book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) written by my student and readers for my 75th birthday. Their stories make me feel that I've been at least partially successful at helping smart people be happy.

Table of Contents

  • Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method
    • Chapter 1. The Most Important Writing Lesson
      • First Exercise:
      • Second Exercise:
    • Chapter 2. The Fieldstone Method in Brief
      • Learning to Care About What You Have to Write
      • What You Learned In School Doesn’t Work
      • The Fieldstone Method Does Work
      • Looking at Walls
    • Chapter 3 Banishing Writer’s Block
      • The Structure of Creation versus the Structure of Presentation
      • Writer’s Block and the Goldilocks Questions
      • Observing Your Writing Activities
    • Chapter 4. Prospecting: Gathering Explained
      • Writing versus Writing Down
      • Why I Am Not Quite as Rich and Famous as Scott Adams
      • The Energy Principle
      • Learning by Copying
      • Are There Enough Stones for Me?
      • But My Stones Are Not That Significant!
      • The Most Important Book for All Writers
      • Gathering During Interactions
      • Gathering Exercise
      • Excuses Exercise
    • Chapter 5. Recycling Stones from Literature
      • Gathering from Books
      • Gathering Exercise: Nonfiction
      • A Fringe Benefit of Fieldstone Gathering
      • Gathering Exercise: Required Reading
      • Gathering from Fiction
      • Gathering Exercise: Fiction
    • Chapter 6 Stealing Stones Safely
      • When Is It Plagiarism?
      • Stealing Words
      • Gathering Exercise: Words
      • Gathering Exercise: Laundering Words
      • Stealing Phrases
      • Gathering Exercise: Phrases
      • Stealing Sentences
      • Gathering Exercise: Sentences
      • Becoming a Professional Thief
      • Gathering Exercise: Conversation
      • Gathering Exercise: Conferences
      • Gathering Exercise: Any Time
      • Gathering Exercise: In Nature
    • Chapter 7. Tools to Assist Your Gathering
      • My Computer
      • Notecards and Pens
      • Highlighters and Sticky Notes
      • Typing Skill
      • Other Technological Aids
      • The Internet
      • Keeping the References
      • Gathering Exercise: Internet Resources
      • Typing Exercise: Any Time
      • Gathering Exercise: Highlighting
    • Chapter 8. Gathering Fieldstones from Memory
      • Memory
      • Triggers
      • Gathering Exercise: Looking for Energy
      • Test Your Memory
      • Stimulate Your Memory
      • Gathering Exercise: Discovering What Triggers Your Memory
      • Gathering Exercise: Combining Triggers
    • Chapter 9. Discarding Stones That Don’t Fit
      • Carrying the Raft
      • Getting Off On the Wrong Foot
      • Exercise: Some New Starts
      • Rules and Habits
      • The Perfection Rule
      • Maybe I’ll Discard Something Important
      • Exercise: Practice with Your For-Later-Use Bin
    • Chapter 10. Criteria for Discarding Stones
      • Sound Tests
      • Exercise: Read Aloud (in a group)
      • Vision Tests
      • Touch Tests
      • Taste Tests
      • The Life Test
      • Weinberg’s Target
      • Quality is Personal
      • Exercise: Developing Your Own Quality Criteria
      • Problems with Meaning
      • Exercise: Do You Mean?
      • Playing With Your Words
      • Exercise: Word Play
    • Chapter 11. Decimating Your Work
      • The Abecedarian
      • Exercise: Less Is More (Dani’s Decimation)
      • Applying Dani’s Decimation
      • Cotton Candy Bricklaying
      • Exercise: Decimating Fiction and Other Literary Forms
    • Chapter 12. Beginning to Get Organized
      • Practice, Practice, Practice
      • Gather First, Gather Last
      • Use an Organizing Principle
      • Use Organizing Tools
      • Exercise: Card Sorting
      • Exercise: Anchor Stones
    • Chapter 13. Outlining with Fieldstone Solitaire
      • Make Every Stone Action-Oriented
      • Work Inside-Out or Outside-In
      • Pull Out the Wrong Rocks
      • Be Patient
      • Exercise: Pulling Stones
    • Chapter 14. Organizing Your Work Space
      • Assignment: Writing Journal.
      • Assignment: Feelings About Taking Care of Yourself.
      • Creating Your Environment
      • Assignment: Your Writing Environment.
      • Writing to Music
      • Exercise: Writing to Music
      • Where Am I in the Organizing Process?
    • Chapter 15. Keep Moving Until You Have Enough
      • Where I Am Right Now in the Organizing Process
      • When You Get Stuck, Center, Enter, and Turn
      • Exercise: Recentering Breaks
      • Enter
      • Turn
    • Exercise: Blah Blah
      • An Example of the Center-Enter-Turn Process
      • Exercise: Center, Enter, Turn
      • Where Am I Now in the Organizing Process?
    • Chapter 16. Putting Your Subconscious to Work
      • Look for What’s Missing
      • Exercise: What’s Missing?
      • Use Quotes
      • Sweet Are the Uses of Solitaire
      • Use the Power of Combination
      • Exercise: Cut Ups
      • Variations
      • Fantasize
        • Where Am I Now in the Organizing
    • Chapter 17. ShapingStones to Fit
      • Making Your Writing Memorable
      • Making It Simple and Specific
      • Writing for Rapport
      • Exercise: Writing for Rapport
      • Shaping Quotes
      • Exercise: Varying Styles for Varying Effects
      • Where Am I Now in the Organizing?
    • Chapter 18. Filling the Cracks
      • Sorting and Associating Stones
      • Exercise: Transitions
      • Mortaring Techniques
      • Organizing Based on the Underlying Ideas
      • Where Am I Now in the Organizing?
    • Chapter 19. Knowing When to Stop
      • The Bingo-Card Effect
      • The Need to Be Perfect
      • The Need to Be Loved
      • How do I Know When I’m Done?
      • The Last Few Stones
      • How It Turns Out
    • Chapter 20. What Happens After You Finish?
      • Getting Published
      • Agents
      • Life After Publishing—The Matthew Effect
      • It’s Not All Sweetness and Light
      • Postscript added for eBook edition
    • References
      • Fundamentals
      • Craft
      • Tools
      • Exercises
      • Emotional Issues
      • Nonfiction
      • Fiction
      • Publishing
      • The Writing Life
    • Index

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