After I signed papers for my book deal, I started reading everything I could about how authors actually write books. Why? I had never written a nonfiction book, yet I was under contract with a German corporation to write a book.
What do the days of authors look like? Where do they even start? (I have a hunch that writers are especially prone to this “Am I doing it right?” fear because while we might get to see people writing articles in a newsroom, we get to see authors working on a book as frequently as we get to see
One of the reasons I took so long to finish my book was that, in reverse-engineering books I considered to be “good,” I kept coming across a very annoying, common feature that is best encapsulated in the lyrics of Dr. Dre’s seminal 1992 classic, “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” featuring Snoop Dogg:
It’s like this and like that and like this. In books, it usually emerges as: “Often, the brain/intuition/motivation/that guy/hiring appears to work like [this]. Except, of course, when it functions like [that].”
The most prominent example of the “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang Principle” in pop science writing
Firstly, think of it as reading, rather than writing. Lehrer is a wide-ranging polymath: he is sent, and stumbles across, all manner of interesting things every day. Right now, I suspect, he files those things away somewhere and wonders whether one day he might be able to use them for another Big Idea piece. Make the blog the place where you file them away.
I’m completely jealous of those who were able to attend the National Association of Science Writers conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Angela Herring, versatile science writer at Northeastern University who blogs here, was kind enough to post some notes here on the panel discussion on “Unearthing Narrative,” a panel discussion that kept popping up on my Twitter feed.