Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Methodby Gerald Weinberg
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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 ideas 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.
This productive "pile-making" is the most humorous—though simultaneously serious—aspect of the Fieldstone Method, which Weinberg refers to as the FLUB rule—the " For Later Use Bin." What you can't use in this book or article, put in a "bin" or folder on your desktop to use elsewhere, perhaps even to generate another, never-before-considered, project.
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. - Written by Gabriele Rico, Ph.D. author of the best-selling Writing the Natural Way
- Gerald Weinberg
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Meet the Author
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 four-volume Quality Software Management 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, Earth's Endless Effort, and Mistress of Molecules—all about how my brilliant protagonists produce quality work and learn to be happy. My books 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.
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 mu 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.
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