Writing a book: An Island-Hopping Strategy for Writers

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During the second World War in the Pacific, the Allies employed an island-topping strategy on their way to invade Japan. They bypassed smaller, non-essential islands while they concentrated on the islands that were most important to achieve their objective. If you’re writing a book, you can use the same strategy to achieve your objective.

How You Do It

Whether you’re writing something long, like a book, or something short, like a blog post, start with a plan that identifies the important things. Make sure you know what you need to write about them. Gather the facts, research and stories that you think you need.

Then write your piece (yes, even a book) all the way through. Along the way, you will discover little things you don’t know. You may need research for a minor point. You may need to check the spelling of a name. Don’t do them as you write, just keep going. You’ll come to places where you won’t be able to get the writing the way you want it. Don’t spend too much time on them, just keep going.

What You Wind Up With

You’ll wind up with a draft where you’ve wrestled with the angels of meaning for all the important things and identified the things that you need to learn about and verify for the final work. You may have also identified things you can leave out.

What You Do Next

Now, go through your piece from beginning to end again. This time you take the time to fill in the blanks. At the end of that write-through, you’ll have a much tighter draft of the entire piece. Rewrite and revise as necessary.

Why This Works

This island-topping strategy works because you get to a complete draft quickly. Once you know what the whole thing looks like and you’ve gotten everything important out of your head, you can begin the important part of writing: rewriting.

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