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Posted February 17, 2011
I've been enjoying Weinberg's technical and fiction books for years. I say for years like it's a long time, but really it's short compared to the decades he has been writing for. He makes technical topics come across clearly with a good strong message. It has been a great pleasure then to read his book "Weinberg on Writing" which describes how he does it.
I have to admit that I'm not super drawn to pursuing writing too actively at the moment, so I read the book slightly faster than I could have, but I enjoyed the book a whole heap, and have it as a good reference to come back to. I'm sure I will enjoy working through the book again and doing all the exercises.
The fieldstone approach in the book seems to be a good way to work. I've heard of people in other contexts using similar ideas for speaking and teaching, and it definitely is an approach that makes it easy to communicate ideas, and a pleasure to listen/read them.
[I received a free copy of the eBook in return for this review].
Posted February 14, 2011
Weinberg is a prolific author (50+ books?), highly regarded in that section of the computing community who love their craft and love reading thoughtful reflections about it.
I would classify Weinberg's writing style as a "simple home-cooked meal". There is nothing pretentious about it. No unfamiliar words, no exotic flavouring, and (dare I say) nothing memorable. Yet it is always pleasurable, warm, nourishing, and filling (in this he is the opposite of the thoroughly enjoyable, enviable Stan Kelly-Bootle who is unable to write a plain sentence; one reads Stan for the pleasure of his words; Jerry for the nourishment)
Weinberg's book on writing introduces his "Fieldstone Method". At its most basic, it's a method that's simply: keep a pen and notebook handy, jot down every thought that comes to mind, sort them out and place them in the books (plural) you are writing. And if you do this, you will never have writer's block.
But he does not just describe the method. Weinberg covers everything: how to collect ideas, where to get ideas, what to do when an idea hits you while you are asleep, or in meditation, how to organise the ideas, how to put them down in your books (again, plural -- he writes several books at the same time, and so will you), how to make sure your writing is clear, how to make sure the collected ideas fit, how to throw out ideas. He even shows you how he uses the method himself.
There is a section that can be called "One day in the life of Jerry Weinberg using the Fieldstone Method". He just covers every question you might have, or obstacle you might face (real or imagined or hoped). Weinberg is like that insurance salesman who wouldn't let you say no. After reading, I just cannot think of any excuse not to start writing. He has equipped me with everything.
This is no academic book about a new theoretical unproven technique. It is very clear that Weinberg is writing from experience. I would bet that he even wrote this book using the method described in this book (how's that for bootstrapping elegance?)
At the end of the book there is a section of about 20-30 recommended writing / editing / and related books, complete with annotations (I love annotations; the database author C. J. Date was peerless in this; Weinberg comes close). The venerable Strunk and White is there, plus one or two I recognise. The rest are unfamiliar to me, and because they are, Weinberg has expanded my horizon.
I enjoyed this book on first reading and it has inspired me to start writing. I am very sure I will be reading it many, many times over.
Highly, highly recommended.
Posted July 5, 2006
Jerry Weinberg is my favorite author in the Information Technology field. I'll never forget where I was when I first read 'The Psychology of Computer Programming' as a senior in college. As a student just getting ready to enter the real world of programming, that book gave me about a 10 year head-start in understanding the mindset of software development. Since then, his books have always been helpful to me and have always shown keen insight to the core issues. As a writer, I was very excited about the prospect of learning from Weinberg himself his thoughts on the writing process. I was not disappointed. This book set me free as a writer. The fieldstone approach gave me the freedom to use many of the articles, quips, replies to e-mail questions, and other smaller writings as a basis for books. The basis of the approach is that instead of working from an outline or trying to write something from beginning to end, you approach the project like someone building a structure from natural stones. These are not the nice, neat stones you buy at the home improvement stores or stone dealers. These are the stones of all shapes and sizes that you find in the ground. When organized in the right way by someone who knows what they are doing, the result can be a beautiful and sturdy wall, home or other structure. A great benefit of the fieldstone approach is that writer's block is eliminated. Even when the streams of text don't come to mind, I can still write small thoughts. You don't have to search for the perfect opening line, or any line for that matter. You can write what you know and then re-write later. I also learned much about words and the power they have. I have started using more colorful and exciting words as opposed to the 'mushy' words that are very ordinary and boring. I firmly believe that one of the best and fastest roads to success for anyone is to write well. The better you write, the more exposure and credibility you get. I recommend this book to anyone who writes, who may aspire to write and also to those that are intimidated by the thought of writing. Readability - 5 Coverage of topics - 5 Depth of coverage - 5 Credibility - 5 Accuracy - 5 Relevance to software quality - n/a Overall - 5Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 24, 2006
Two friends and I argued over the pains of writing while watching a magnificent sunset over the Pacific in Ocean Beach, San Diego. \ 'My writing is too short and to the point,' Patrick said. 'I should strive for bigger pieces'. \ 'Bigger and not to the point?' Eileen asked smirking. I chuckled, then felt guilty. \ 'More like I want to pull in and engage the reader, be less concerned about brevity,' Patrick answered. \ 'But every word SHOULD count,' Eileen said. \ This debate of 'enriched' vs. 'concise' writing seized me emotionally. I pulled a yellow 3x5 card and jotted down quickly the essence of what was said. \ 'What are you doing?' Eileen asked. \ 'This dialogue is funny. Its theme resonates with me a lot. I'm capturing it as a fieldstone.' \ 'Fieldstone?' \ 'I read this book by Gerald Weinberg,' I replied, 'in which he described convincingly how efficient it is to gather fieldstones throughout life (snippets of anything that carry energy for you) and later use them as needed in your writing.' \ 'Though I do notice fieldstones, I never remember them later,' Patrick complained, even as I was capturing that interaction--admittedly the first time ever I had prepared for such event. \ 'Weinberg addresses that with the 5-second rule.' I proceeded to reveal a handful of Weinberg's secrets. Both friends were now focused on me, not the sunset. Their inquisitiveness fueled the energy I felt about the fieldstone. \ At that time, I had no idea how I would use that dialogue until four days later I decided to write a review on Weinberg's book. I decided to use that very fieldstone to capture the reader's attention regarding fieldstones. \ Did it work? \ I find Weinberg's method so convincing and practical that I'm surprised the publishers did not capitalize on the title acronym when designing the cover nevertheless, invest in this book, and I bet it will W.O.W. you!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 16, 2006
I've been working on improving my writing for about 20 years. When I was inside organizations, I asked some of my colleagues to review my memos and reports. I gained valuable insights. ('A verb, JR, a verb. Please.') But once I started my consulting business 11 years ago, I needed more help with my writing. My early reviewers gave me useful and helpful feedback. But it wasn't until I took Jerry Weinberg's writing workshop that I was able to take my writing to the next level. If you want to take a writing workshop but don't feel you have the time or the money to spend a week at a workshop, buy this book. Work through the exercises--yes, all of them. Listen to Jerry's advice, such as 'Never attempt to write something you don't care about' or 'Writer's block is not a disorder in you, the writer. It's a deficiency in your writing methods--the mythology you've swallowed about how works get written.' I'm proof these techniques work. I've published three books, over 100 articles, and am working on my next few books. 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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2006
'Weinberg on Writing ¿ The Fieldstone Method' is a marvelous handbook that will be immensely beneficial to anyone desiring to be a successful writer. A popular belief about gifted artists is how easily their art comes to them. In the preface of the 'First Folio' of Shakespeare¿s plays, the publishers Heminge and Cordell write: ¿His mind and hand went together: And what he thought, he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers.¿ For lesser mortals, however, assistance in improving our artistic craft is a true godsend. Gerald Weinberg, an accomplished author, takes time in 'Weinberg on Writing' to explore with us in detail the method underlying his own processes. In so doing, he provides a welcomed service, presenting us with a cogent set of techniques, exercises, examples and advice to aid us in our writing. 'The Fieldstone Method' rests on a powerfully apt analogy, the creation of sound stone-wall structures. It takes energy and time to build a stone wall, and it takes energy and time to write. 'The Fieldstone Method' shows us how the process of harnessing ideas and words into a written work is like building a stone wall: gathering, arranging, rearranging, and discarding stones as the wall evolves organically over time. Its most remarkable feature is how it helps writers keep personal energy high, efforts focused and the daunting work of composition forward-moving. When I read about any methodology, I ask myself how well it meets certain qualities. Is the method probable? Is it possible? Practical? Plastic? Psychologically sound? For 'The Fieldstone Method,' the answer in each case is emphatically ¿Yes.¿ Weinberg¿s 'Fieldstone Method' is probable in two senses: the apparent reasonableness of what it proposes and the increased likelihood of success for those adopting it. His approach is possible in that the steps it outlines are truly achievable by ordinary people. The eminent practicality of Weinberg¿s method is evidenced by the many imaginative exercises he lays out for writers, exercises that can be undertaken repeatedly with continuing benefit. Of course, all this would matter little were not his method sufficiently plastic so as to be both adaptable to the particular needs of individuals in all their varieties of personality and moods and applicable to the many types of writing people attempt and that quality brings us to his method¿s psychological soundness. Weinberg has spent much of his career observing, studying, understanding and appreciating people and how they work, especially those undertaking intellectual activities. His methods are generously humane and grounded in profound wisdom and genuine insight into the complete human condition. So, for anyone facing the challenges of transforming ideas into words that others will read, 'Weinberg on Writing ¿ The Fieldstone Method' will be an invaluable addition to your personal library. It will provide wonderful guidance and inspiration from now through the rest of your career. It certainly will do so for me.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 26, 2011
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