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Weinberg on Writing
The Fieldstone Method

by Gerald M. Weinberg

ISBN: 978-0-932633-65-1  
©2006  208 pages   softcover  
$24.95 (plus shipping)

Subject(s): Writing

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Find Jerry's eBook nonfiction and novels listed at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords stores, and at www.geraldmweinberg.com.

The Writing Method That Works
for One of Our Most Popular Authors

About the Book

Gerald M. Weinberg, author of more than forty books -- including eighteen published by Dorset House -- reveals his secrets for collecting and organizing his ideas for writing projects.

Drawing an analogy to the stone-by-stone method of building fieldstone walls, Weinberg shows writers how to construct fiction and nonfiction manuscripts from key insights, stories, and quotes.

The elements, or stones, are collected nonsequentially, over time, and eventually find logical places in larger pieces. The method renders writer's block irrelevant and has proved effective for scores of Weinberg's writing class students.

If you've ever wanted to write a book or article -- or need to revitalize your writing career -- don't miss this intimate glimpse into the mind behind some the computer industry's best books.

Topics Include:

  • learning to care about what you have to write
  • exercises in playing with your words
  • when is it plagiarism
  • the structure of creation versus the structure of presentation
  • stimulate your memory
  • getting published
  • and much more

Insights from the Book

"What would you really like to write? For many would-be writers, this is the hardest exercise of all. They've never in their lives allowed themselves to think about what they wanted. So, put aside everything your teachers told you, your parents told you, your boss told you, your spouse told you, or I told you. Dream your dream. Would you like to write about how to play pinball? What it feels like to canoe a Class Five rapids? Your grandmother's knitting? What's wrong with the design of some computer system? Peace in Ireland? What you'd like your children to know about you? Something to amuse your grandchildren? How you get in touch with God? I can't tell you. This is where you have to find out for yourself.

"Can it be more than one thing? Certainly. Are you allowed to get it 'wrong'? Absolutely. Can you change your mind later? Definitely. But right now, let your heart tell you what you'd like to write. Then write it down -- just the title, or titles. Any more than that is optional.

"Don't be disappointed if you can't identify what you really want to write. Quite likely, you'll find many answers, but none will be the final answer. I knew when I was eight years old, but I didn't know I knew until about forty years later."

-- from Chapter 1


"Don't write your book -- build it with Weinberg's Fieldstone Method. Keep the project moving by breaking the project into easy-to-attack chunks; gather your ideas one at a time. Then stack them as you would stones in a wall."

-- Dan Poynter
author of Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual

"It wasn't until I participated in one of Jerry Weinberg's writing workshops that I was able to take my writing to the next level. . . .

"I'm proof these techniques work. I've published three books, over 100 articles, and am working on my next few books. Next few books, you ask? Yes. 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. "

-- Johanna Rothman
author of Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds

"Part memoir, part how-to, Weinberg on Writing dispenses with the mysteries and misconceptions of craft and shows any writer how -- and how not to -- hone their skills. Weinberg's method of finding fieldstones with which to build your writing strikes me as one of the more effective metaphors for the writing craft I've ever seen. Weinberg also rightly places the emphasis on writing about what matters to you rather than perpetrating the old saw, 'Write what you know.' Writers of any stripe will go far following Weinberg's method."

-- Jennifer Lawler
author of Dojo Wisdom for Writers

"Jerry Weinberg's lessons in writing are smart, funny, memorable, wise, engaging . . . and, most important, it is all stuff that works, it's practical. What more would you want?"

-- Howard S. Becker
author of Writing for Social Scientists

"I suppose the strongest praise of a how-to writing book would be to say it's changed the way I intend to organize and write my next book. And it's true! I'm now beginning to gather information and think about the structure of my next project, and I'm going to adopt Jerry's Fieldstone Method. I think Jerry has made my writing life easier. This book is a gift to writers at all levels from a true pro with sterling credentials."

-- Penny Raife Durant
award-winning author of nine children's books, including When Heroes Die and Sniffles, Sneezes, Hiccups and Coughs

"Weinberg on Writing is a strange little gem: part writer's guide, part personal philosophy, and part autobiography. As such, it has something to offer for writers of non-fiction and fiction alike -- and would also be a good read for anyone who has ever wondered where writers get their ideas."

-- Jane Lindskold
author of The Firekeeper Saga

"After 40 plus years of writing books articles and web postings, I finally understand what's been going on. Jerry Weinberg has encapsulated in this book why I love writing. I guess I've always followed his first commandment: Never attempt to write something you don't care about.

"Sometimes it's hard, but as he pointed out that's usually because I'm trying to write the wrong thing. Sometimes I feel self-conscious throwing myself into my writing, but I'm not going to do that any more.

"Thanks Jerry!"

-- David C. Hay
author of Data Model Patterns

"Two friends and I argued over the pains of writing while watching a magnificent sunset over the Pacific in Ocean Beach, San Diego. . . .

'"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. . . .

"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
. . . invest in this book, and I bet it will W.O.W. you!"

-- Leo H. Deloas
posted on Amazon.com

"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."

-- Gabriele Rico, author of Writing the Natural Way

"Weinberg on Writing is a combination of tales from Jerry Weinberg's long writing career and hands-on exercises. I particularly resonated with the tale he tells in the beginning, about how writing classes in school almost killed his desire to write. School almost did that for me too. Jerry's method is different. Collect what gives you energy, play with your collection, organize when you're ready.

"If you have an interest in writing, want to try another style, or find your fun back doing it, I find Weinberg on Writing worth checking out."

-- Willem van den Ende works as programmer/trainer/coach, writes a weblog. Would like to write more.

"If you're thinking about writing a book, Jerry Weinberg, author of more than 40 books and 400 articles, has just published an entertaining reference for writers, Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method. It's a great resource for new and veteran authors."

-- Michael McLaughlin
Author, Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants

"In his new book, acclaimed consultant, teacher, and author Jerry Weinberg introduces his approach to writing called The Fieldstone Method. This is not a book about grammar or style, but about *getting things written* -- and cutting yourself some slack in the process. In today's world of blogging and "agile publishing," Weinberg's evolutionary, non-linear method is especially welcome. This excerpt explains how Fieldstoning can break the cycle of writer's block."

-- Daniel Reed

"A frequent pastime for all writers and aspiring writers is to read books of advice on how to write. . . . Weinberg has produced 30-plus books and 100s of articles over his career. He has also combined a career that started out dealing with technology and transformed to dealing with organizations and the behavior of the people in them. That mixture leads to a view about the practice of writing that is among the most actionable and most aligned with the world I find myself in than anything I have yet encountered. Weinberg is not concerned with the mechanics of writing or particularly with the low-level details. Instead, his focus is on how to integrate the process of writing into the rest of your daily world in a way that makes each better.

-- Jim McGee
consultant and author of the weblog McGee's Musings

". . . this is a fun, interesting book which takes a perspective which is unusual and stimulating. . . . 'The Feldstone Method starts with gathering, not with organizing.' This is, in a nutshell, what makes the concepts in this book different from most other books on writing."

-- Maggie Ball
The Compulsive Reader

"Building a fieldstone structure requires gathering the right stones in a step-by-step process, as fieldstones vary in size, color, texture, shape and density. Similarly, writing a book requires the gathering of ideas or as Weinberg succinctly reminds us, "snatches of writing, photos, diagrams, quotations, pictures, and references that you find interesting. . . ."

"Weinberg has written a clever writing manual. On one level it is highly readable and on another it is packed with excellent insights into how to effectively perfect the writing process with less pain and much more enjoyment."

-- Norm Goldman
Editor, BookPleasures.com

". . . an informed and informative instructional reference to the process and skill of effective writing. Weinberg introduces the reader to forty-four exercises and offers many insightful tactics. Weinberg On Writing is an excellent detailing of all the necessary steps to be taken amidst the attempts and struggles of writing a book. Weinberg enlightens the readers to many original and particular strategies rarely recognized or pursued. . . . very strongly recommended to all aspiring authors particularly oriented or favoring the presence of nature in their writing."

-- Diane Donovan
Editor, Bookwatch

"Weinberg on Writing describes the actual process a real person goes about when coming up with ideas for a piece, how he organizes those ideas, and little things like transitions and word choice. It will be especially helpful with people trying to get published in a magazine for the first time or people who produce technical documentation for a living.

". . . I've never read a book so specific, down-to-earth, and approachable about the writing process. Most of what I have learned about writing was learned by finding *bad* writing, learning the symptoms, and trying to avoid them. This book actually provides positive, specific steps to improve the quality of your writing, along with exercises. . . .

"As for the actual process of writing, this book is far and away better than anything else I have ever read. Five Stars. Buy it today."

-- Matt Heusser
Software Developer

"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. . . .

"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."

-- Randy Rice
posted on Amazon.com

"It's the closest thing to being in a Weinberg workshop . . .

"I wonder how different my writing life would have been if my freshman English teacher in college had had access to Jerry's book as a text. I can't answer that question, but I can say that my writing life has been changed by Jerry in person and by Weinberg on Writing, for the better in each case!"

-- SuZ Garcia
posted on Amazon.com

"This is THE book on writing. Short and sweet: in a thin paperback, Weinberg covers the entire spectrum from mechanics of organizing paragraphs to how to gather and integrate your ideas. Weinberg comes from the software field, but knows how to write a book I couldn't put down. It has automatically become one of my "toolkit" books -- one of a few I'll keep on my shelf to refer to regularly.

-- T. Harris
posted on Amazon.com,

"You don't just work on one thing. You work on many different things and there are many different kinds of activities you can do when you 'slow down.'"

"I've taken much of his book to heart . . . Let this book work its magic on you. The changes seem obvious and subtle. However, they've seemed to work well for me."

-- Brett L. Schuchert, posted on Amazon.com,

". . . a thought-provoking book about how to write using the metaphor of building a fieldstone wall. Jerry Weinberg addresses the problem of writer's block by showing how metaphorical stones can be continually collected. . . . The process of collecting stones typically contributes to ongoing work on a number of potential finished books, articles, reports or even blog entries. . . . Of the many lessons in this book worth heeding my favourite is Jerry's first: "Never attempt to write something you don't care about". After all, a fine stone wall is built by a master craftsman with passion. Writing should be similar."

-- Keith Pitty
posted on The SquizLog

"Is your brain feeling rusty? If being creative feels impossible at the moment, try something more or less 'mechanical,' suggests Gerald M. Weinberg. . . Once you're in, you have a chance to reach the creative zone. . . .

"When you have to write something for work or school, that is, when you're not writing exactly what you most want to be writing, Weinberg suggests that you ask yourself to describe 'an approach to converting the assignment into one you do care about.' Flow theory agrees: any activity can be turned into a flow activity if you raise the challenge just enough to engage your interest. . . ."

-- Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
posted on Psychology Today - Creating in Flow

". . . Has very straightforward and approachable advice for getting past writer's block, gathering and finding the bright shiny things that you can assemble into your new work, and bringing a workmanlike attitude to the artistic process. I think it has applications for the visual arts, as well."

-- Andrew Wetmore
posted on WASAA

"Studded with lots of examples and exercises for the reader, the book could help writers of all genres and all skill levels; the most important lesson is not to just fight through 'writers block' but to leap around it and Weinberg seems to have found a metaphor, the 'Fieldstone Method,' that will work if faithfully practiced. But then the proof of this statement will have to, for me, wait for its actual use in practice!

"I must admit that the reading was so good I skipped those exercises best done in teams. That said, the self discovery that came from the solitary exercises I did complete was great enough that I will be going back through the book, at a more leisurely pace, to ensure that I make use of the remaining ones -- something I have never, in any book of this nature, had any interest in doing. That in itself is testimony to the power of the book."

-- David Soul
Bricoleur Systems

Jerry on YouTube: The Fieldstone Method



Order Weinberg on Writing Today
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Jerry on YouTube
Table of Contents

Dorset House Catalog
This Book's Flyer

By this Author

Amplifying Your Effectiveness: Collected Essays

Are Your Lights On?
The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully

Also Recommended

Communication Gaps and How to Close Them, by Naomi Karten

Dr. Peeling's Principles of Management, by Nic Peeling

Managing Expectations: Working with People Who Want More, Better, Faster, Sooner, NOW!, by Naomi Karten

Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews, by Norman L. Kerth

How to Order

To order this book by credit card directly from Dorset House in New York, please call (800) 342-6657 or (212) 620-4053, weekdays, 9am to 6pm. Alternatively, print out our Faxable Order Form and fax to (212) 727-1044.

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