Companies like Adobe, and other creative types like games designers, build a feature called “snap to grid” into their products. It’s useful when you’re moving an element around an area – like a line of text on a page layout, or a flooring tile in Fallout 4. When it gets close to a related element, it “snaps into place”. Relieving you of having to place it pixel-perfect.
This month, the 100 Days, 100 Grand manuscript seems to be “snapping to grid”.
Without going into details, 2016 so far has been one long slog of making ideas, tasks, actions, and other bits of knowledge consistent with the overall flow of the 220,000-word text. In one session I deleted a 12,000-word section because it just didn’t fit properly. (If I didn’t do this, I’d end up with a book a bit like the car in Johnny Cash’s One Piece at a Time“. An end result that ought to work, but uses so many pieces from different sources it’s a pile of junk.)
Who’d be a textbook author?
This has caused me huge problems. Because 100 Days is so cross-connected, full of evolving actions and information dependencies, it’s more like designing a building than writing paragraphs. If I hadn’t realised last year that that its core message – celebrating individual self-actualisation – has become my life’s purpose, I’d even wonder whether to carry on.
(Naturally, testing the methods at Chris does Content has won me new business … income that pays my bills. Any income I might get from writing a 1200-page textbook is deferred for years. If 100 Days was just for fun, rather than a mission, it’d be much harder to schedule into my working week.)
Much of Spring was a logjam of trying to make Part 2 – where you define your offer to the market – work properly as a week of actionable instructions. It’s still far from complete. So this month, I switched to editing some Part 9 chapters, on turning your first billable projects into regular customers. And guess what? It snapped to grid.
Editing Day 85, I realised its content relied on some descriptors the reader creates earlier in Part 5. (Descriptors are information tags that describe a name on your marketing list, so you can personalise it more deeply with your sales letter. Personalisation is a huge part of how you win customers in 100 Days, 100 Grand.) Wahey! Text junked, text rewritten. The same thing’s happening today with Day 86 – and, looking ahead, with Day 87.
I was deeply unhappy with the text of over half the book’s pages, but now everything’s snapping to grid, it’s much clearer what’s out of shape. And the irony is that all this snapping is further defining what needs to happen way back in troublesome Part 2.
I didn’t need to spend a quarter of a year agonising over the seven chapters of Part 2. I just needed to write Part 9 first, to see what it needed to say.
But that’s textbook writing for you.