Archiv der Kategorie: Editor

In this area editorial articles are collected.

Out of the routine

After one-hundred months of weekly blogging, I’m getting out of this routine. In 2013, I started with fifteen categories (see the Categories pull-down menu on the right) without having a long-term plan in mind. The selection of topics arose spontaneously over time. They are mostly about communication, management, meaning design, change management, and governance. In addition, I categorized all posts with over 3300 tags. The word cloud on the right side highlights the most frequent keywords using the font size. The most used English keywords are metaphor, communication, change, context, and rules. In this post, I summarize my insights from over eight years.

How much effort was needed?
In the absence of an attendance recorder, the creation was not measured. The effort for the more than 420 articles results mainly from the two languages – German and English. I aim for about 500 words per post. The present articles contain between 300 and 1700 words. On average, I estimate the effort for a bilingual article to be eight hours per week. The range goes from four hours to several days. Several thousand hours or more than 400 PD have been accumulated.

What my writing process looks like
For me, an important lesson learned is the path from idea to publication. The typical procedure looks like the following.

  1. Preparing the topic
    The first step is to develop a subject that seems worth sharing, mainly researching the related aspects. It consists of the individual parts, the context, and the coherent structure. In addition, I develop a simplified visualization of the topic and transfer it into a symbolic image. Only after I structured the whole, I start writing. In individual cases, this can take weeks.
  2. Writing and revising the draft
    With the topic in mind, I write the first version in German. The model gets transferred into a verbal form – describing the terms, explaining the context, and showing examples. In the end, I summarize the findings at the end. This version matures overnight, and I revise it on one of the following days. Now I look dissociated at the text as if it were from somebody else. As soon as nothing bothers me, I run the spelling and grammar check (currently: Grammarly). Based on the suggestions, I revise the sentences and fix mistakes. To make the text more understandable, I identify abstract terms and awkward passages with Blablameter.
  3. Translate and revise the text
    The matured text gets now translated. I’ve been using software (formerly SYSTRAN and now DEEPL) for years to get a rough translation. I revise the English version until I don’t get stuck either. The English text is then cleansed from errors and awkward phrasing using Grammarly. While editing the English text, I adjust in parallel the German one to keep both versions in sync. Later, it would be more difficult to find the changed positions again.
  4. Having the texts read aloud
    After the text is available in German and English, I have it read aloud. I found out that listening is another effective way to improve a text. For this purpose, I use the Text-to-Speech reader TextAloud. While listening, I can either walk around or close my eyes. On the other hand, the program reads the FULL text, i.e., without skipping paragraphs. In this way, I discover other errors and weak points in my wording, which I otherwise overread. Here again, I revise the German and English versions side by side, as described above.
  5. Making the final correction
    Some texts do not pass the fourth step satisfactorily. In this case, they slip into the hold file and are completely revised sometimes later. If the texts survive the follow-up, a final correction is made using Duden-Mentor and Grammarly. With this, the articles are done.
  6. Publishing the blogpost
    When publishing, the texts are uploaded to and tagged with keywords. Most of the time, I have several articles in the pipeline. Since I publish only one topic a week, several finished posts accumulate over time. Because of this preliminary work, I have a buffer for the weekly release. Besides, I collect ideas for topics and half-finished texts in a development file. The writing process ends with the upload. I publish in the order of uploading. In rare cases, the articles are re-sharpened after some time.

Some topics resist publication. They do not immediately fit together coherently. The explanations are too awkward, or doubts arise about the article. Then that fragment remains in the development file until I resolve the concerns. The flow typically ensures that I reach an end more easily and do not “endlessly” fine-tune the expression. In a week, the flow ideally takes eight hours.

What I have learned

A blog cannot be taken for granted. Depending on the claim, a text requires much research time, and I collect evidence in a particular folder. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to find the sources later. Revising texts involves discipline. The writing process and the software I mentioned help, and they “force” one to edit the complete text. Reading aloud has proven to be particularly effective. The quality of the voices is now so good that I over-hear the shortcomings, such as the particular intonation and speech errors.

The chosen weekly rhythm of uploading one article on the weekend was crucial for the present texts was. With one family-related exception, I kept this rhythm up – in addition to my work. The daily readers drove me. The most popular text is MPPI – The indicator for project problems with over 10,000 views. Followed by Contacts with a difference with about 8,000 views, Das Meer – die ideale Metapher für eine Vision (over 6,600 views), Free willing – Deciding without obligation (6,311 views), and Der Berg – die ideale Metapher für ein Ziel (5,803 views). Today, I would not use that many keywords because it makes it more difficult to cluster the topics. In any case, the built-in full-text search makes it easier to find texts.

What’s next?

In the future, I’ll put my energy into books. The first titles kept me busy for a long time. memenotes – Food for thought for rethinkers  (see video) is a bilingual collection of thought-provoking ideas that I have collected over the years and put into notebook form. Denke/Th!nk (see video) is a small book that should awaken the reader’s creativity. In the context of business and personal initiatives, the images, topic tableaus, processes, and templates inspire new ideas. More books are in the making, and I redirect my blogging routine there.

I do not the end, but I switch to an irregular rhythm. I hope that the current topics will continue to arouse keen interest.

Writing for the sake of writing

After four years of regular writing this post is the two hundredth in English. On this occasion I think verbally about writing. The momentum has not yet ebbed away. The contents do not really provide any revolutionary new aspects on the topics of communication, management, change management, meaning shaping, governance, strategy (the sequence corresponds to the frequency of the articles). And yet, they offer new perspectives. Some subjects evolved to a series, such as the ideal metaphor. Other articles follow daily headlines. This time I think about the reasons that the momentum does not stop.

Writing uses the same words as talking. Nevertheless, writing is a more conscious examination of the subject. By tonal exhalation words are formed, which, if they do not reach an ear, evaporate unheard. Writing remains. But why writing, if the described wheel is already round?

  • Out of a need to communicate
    Humans have been speaking for about 100,000 years and nowadays an average of 16,000 words daily. That the exchange of words is an important prerequisite for social togetherness can be seen in the cultural character of individual regions of the world as well as in their diversity. Important meaning carriers were and are religions. This can be seen in the Western approach to group the world in good and bad, right and wrong, or in the balance of yin and yang in the east. The progressions were driven by the natural needs to communicate – first verbally, for 5,000 years handwritten and printed for centuries. Writing remains longer, even if the carrier dissolves over time – paper very fast, parchment slower and stone apparently not at all. Let us wait and see how long the Internet provides the posts.
  • Describing issues
    The contents that are transported go from economic accounting, to sacred and political texts to today’s literature. With all the variety of words, certain areas remain refused to writing. Feelings and abstract thoughts can only be described without being able to express the essential. As Wittgenstein put it in a nutshell: “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” These are the areas that cry out for an additional formulation. Abstract themes do not have a tangible life and exist therefore only in the consciousness of the individual. What they make out of it can not be ascertained, since the inner thoughts are not accessible for other people. This is one reason why certain things are repeatedly described and thus become a printable version that can be discussed splendidly over and over again.
  • Finding appropriate words
    Writing has the advantage that a train of thought that is expressed in words, can be improved. Theoretically, the right moment for the correction has come, when there is something printable. At the same time, the immediate reformulation of a sentence slows down the writing flow, because you can get into an infinite loop of correction. It is more fruitful to write down a longer text in a row, leaving it untouched for a certain time, and to rework it afterwards. This time you will notice parts that do not fit the actual theme. You find words that are inappropriate, too abstract, or too often repeated. At the same time, the appeal lies also in the formation of words that can not be found in a normal dictionary. The ultimate goal is to place few, and at the same time simple words, closest to the desired intention. As a result, several texts are being prepared in parallel. Once the proper degree is reached, they are completed.
  • Finding appropriate images
    This is valid in a double sense. On the one hand, the contents are to be illustrated by means of figurative meanings. The search for a meaningful outline of the theme, analogies and metaphors are an important element of writing. On the other hand, each blog post consists of a scribbled stroke drawing. Since words can express only a part of the intention, the picture is another way to show the purpose. Writing does not start until the image is displayed. It creates the framework and always ensures that the original purpose does not get lost. The images can be realistic images of the subject or metaphorical visualizations. Quite rarely contradictions happen between text and image. If so, usually the picture will be reworked. The entire process of writing always consists of both: visualization and writing.
  • Practicing English
    All blog articles are immediately developed bilingually. In addition to the fact that this increases the scope of the potential readership, an important reason is to make the texts better. Once the text is available in German, it will be translated into English. Unintentionally ambiguous passages show up in the German text. The two texts, German and English, are eventually adapted to each other and to the original intention. The huge vocabulary of English makes you aware of missing words in German – and vice versa. It is remarkable that the subconscious meaning gives signals as long as the formulation is not yet as it should be. The bilingual processing of the texts has proven beneficial for both languages, as the active vocabulary is expanded for both.
  • Trick the transience of time
    As described above, what has been said dissolves in the air, sometimes unheard or misunderstood. There are also the thoughts, which briefly emerge and then disappear again in latency, as long as it is not written down. Otherwise, they become visible only with corresponding stimulus that provokes the respective region of the mind and brings the thought back into consciousness. A remedy is writing. A clever formulation, a coherent train of thought, or a Eureka, which would solve a long-standing smoldering enigma, might be lost. Sometimes in the sleep the solution suddenly appears before your inner eyes. Quickly turning on the light, grabbing the notebook and … crap, where is the pen. Without notes, the next day the idea would be gone. The same applies to every blog article. I do not remember, what it was, but I have already put the issue into words. And then there is the fact that up to now contents have been waiting for reading – now for four years. This also makes it possible to convey own thoughts longer than you could tell them.
  • Fruitful routine
    An important element of writing is the routine that it takes to keep getting to new texts. Of course the right mood helps in writing. Sometimes it is worthwhile to pay attention to the inner resistance and not to force anything. This does not mean, however, that you give in to the impulse and get out of rhythm. In this case, it is one post per week. In the sense of the constant drop that caves the stone, the discipline brings by and by a lot of thoughts into the net and on the paper. In addition, the weekly routine offers a meditative aspect as well as food for your own satisfaction. And, of course, writing practice improves the everyday production of content – be it in reports, brochures or even in PowerPoints.

Bottom line: This text is a good example of the last one hundred ninety-nine blog posts. The subject was found, the picture was scribbled, and finally the structure and the formulations were developed. In this case, these are the reasons for writing: the need for communication, describing issues, appropriate words and images, practicing English, the transience, and the fruitful routine. Whether these reasons for writing apply for all or just for me lies in the eye of the beholder. For me it is enough to go on for the time being. The more pages are created, the more will be read. Perhaps another reason to continue this routine is also writing for the sake of writing.