Daily Productive Sharing 223 - What Do I Get From Writing A Book?

What is the best way to learn? It is to teach others what we have learned. In this process, we not only consolidate our own knowledge, but also consider the perceptions of our audience, thus minimizing the curse of knowledge.

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(The English version follows)


最好的学习方式是什么?就是把自己学到的东西教给别人,在这个过程中,我们不仅能巩固自己的知识,还需要考虑受众的认知,从而把知识的诅咒降到最低 Daily Productive Sharing 158 - 20210324 Daily Productive Sharing 150 - 20210312。在今天的作者看来,写书就是这样一个过程,可以把自己学到的知识用一种更凝练的方式积累下来。当然在写书过程中,他也学到了很多:

  1. 列提纲对于写书非常重要;
  2. 保持写草稿的节奏也非常重要;
  3. 能找到大量时间写作非常难得;
  4. 把书写完其实才完成了一半,剩下的另一半就是如何卖书,这一半同样非常重要;
  5. 不要浪费时间在写作工具上,毕竟出版商都要自己排版;
  6. 能获得反馈非常难得,获得建设性的反馈更加难得。

其实我也有同感,就像坚持写这份邮件列表一样。之前我也每天读各种订阅的 blog,最多就是给喜欢的文章标颗星,很多读完就忘了。制作这份邮件列表,迫使我:

  1. 认真阅读推荐的每一篇文章,并把重要的内容摘出来;
  2. 认真写导语,把自己的感想记录下来;
  3. 将往期的分享内容关联起来,更好地积累。


作者出版的两本书分别是 An Elegant PuzzleStaff Engineer



What I learned writing a book.

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What is the best way to learn? It is to teach others what we have learned. In this process, we not only consolidate our own knowledge, but also consider the perceptions of our audience, thus minimizing the curse of knowledge Daily Productive Sharing 158 - 20210324 Daily Productive Sharing 150 - 20210312. According to William Larson, writing a book is such a process that allows one to accumulate the knowledge one has learned in a more condensed way. Of course, he has learned a lot in the process of writing a book:

  1. outlining is very important for writing a book.
  2. it is also very important to keep the pace of writing drafts.
  3. it is very rare to find a lot of time to write.
  4. finishing the book is only half done, the other half is how to sell the book, which is also very important.
  5. do not waste time on writing tools, after all, publishers will do their own typesetting.
  6. it is very rare to get feedback, and even rarer to get constructive feedback.

I actually feel the same way, as writing this mailing list. I used to read all kinds of subscribed blogs every day, but the most I could do was to give a star to the articles I liked, and I forgot about most of them. Making this mailing list forced me to:

  1. read each of the recommended articles carefully and extract the important content.
  2. write the introduction carefully and record my thoughts on it.
  3. correlate the content shared in previous issues to better accumulate it.

So this process of sharing has benefited me myself significantly.

The two books published by the author are An Elegant Puzzle and Staff Engineer.

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What I learned writing a book.

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As I understand it, a book is not truly written if you haven’t knocked together a blog post about writing it, and who am I to defy that standard.
My writing pace accelerates whenever I find myself in a learning rich environment, which is why I wrote so much in my first two years out of school and over the past three years at Stripe.
I set a goal of one post a month, but momentum gathered and the posts kept popping up, altogether about seventy posts that year.
I imagine in large part due to Camille Fournier’s The Manager’s Path establishing a clear market for books focused on engineering leadership.
Of the publishers I spoke with, Stripe Press was the one I ultimately wanted to work with.
I started by sketching out the content I’d want to write for such a book, then I structured that content into chapters. After that, I wrote each of the chapters as a blog post, which let me get into the “habit of shipping” (to quote my coworker Davin) and to test the content with readers.
I wrote one or two sections a week, scrounging roughly eight hours each week from early mornings and weekends.
it takes a great deal of privilege to write a book.
We structured our marketing on the belief that effective book publicity fills three to six months after release.
Beyond launch week, we’ve worked with a number of amazing podcasts that’ll release over the next couple months, I’ll get to host small events at a bunch of Bay Area companies, I’m speaking at Velocity about investing in technical infrastructure, and I’ll be writing frequently.
We’re also looking into a number of different Q&A formats that might scale beyond the Bay Area, maybe a Reddit AMA or some such.
I wrote the book in Markdown, along with a script that converts each section into LaTeX and merged the sections into an overall book.
At minimum, constrain the time you spend on your tooling since the publisher is going to rework all the formatting and such anyway.
My motivations were pretty much the same as why I write in general: I write to learn and share.
I believe this perspective and the ideas behind it are useful, and I hope sharing them will help others to lead healthier teams and more effective organizations.
Another reason I write is building awareness of me and my work
Outline, outline, outline. The only thing I knew going into writing the book was that I should outline everything before I started writing content, and that was good advice.
Marketing is half the work. It’s tempting to think that your work is done once you’ve finished writing the book, but marketing is just as important.
Honest feedback is very hard to find when writing a book, since you have to find (a) someone who will give hard feedback, and (b) someone who is willing to read your book.