The power of visual

by Paul Morrison

I haven't blogged much about this book lately.  Mainly, that's because I'm doing more important writing: namely, the book.  I have almost all my interviews in (there are a couple more I would like, but I could run it quite easily with the ones I have), so I can concentrate primarily on adding to the interviewees' excellent content.

I do post on Twitter a lot, less so on Facebook, but my posts on Twitter are more as part of conversations, rather than specifics about the book.  My posts here have become more sporadic because it gets difficult to add anything fresh.  Do you really want to read "well, I added another 500 words today"?  I don't know, actually.  Do you?

Anyway, it's easy to be overcome with negative thoughts and feelings.  Nobody seems interested... am I wasting my time?... is it any good?  Then there are feelings such as, will I ever finish this thing?  I've never felt that that was in doubt, but sometimes it was hard to see any progress.

However, one conversation gave me a good idea.  I decided to make a spreadsheet.  It sounds like something that would have nothing to do with the writing of a book, but it's serving a valuable purpose.  What I've done is to make a list of everyone I've interviewed, then a range of cells from 0% to 100%, in 10% increments.  Then at the end, columns for the number of words in the interview, and the number of words in the piece once I've replaced the questions with narrative.

I've found that it's a great incentive to me, to have that.  Every time I make a substantial amount of progress, I shade cells against the interviewee in question.  I'm also colour-coding it, so I can see at a glance where I've made most progress and where I have most work left.  Those who are completed, at least for a first pass, are coloured green.  Then it's kind of traffic-lighted down to red for those with most work left.

I don't know if you think that's weird, but it's really working well.  I find that it's hard to concentrate on one person's interview from start to finish, which is why they're all at least partly finished.  I work on them as and where inspiration strikes, which means that I'm always pushing the thing forwards.  Well, almost always... but if I can't be inspired about this project at all on any given day, then I have something else I'm working on which rekindles the mojo...

More about that another time.  For now, you can be assured that progress is being made.  It's there in black and white... or red, orange, yellow and green.