The process of writing and querying a book has touched other aspects of my work life in ways I never predicted. For example, last year when I kicked my search for a new job into high gear, I used some of the techniques I'd utilized when writing query letters to craft a more effective cover letter.
This included tactics like:
- Keep the letter short and focused.
- Hone in on the key plotline of the book (focus only on the job experiences most relevant to this position).
- Include a paragraph on why this specific agent is the right agent for me (why is this specific job the right job for me).
- Tweak the letter to customize it for each agent/job.
- The letter should tell a story. In a cover letter, this should be the story of why I am the perfect person for a position.
The major lesson from writing a book that I've put to use my day to day activities as an employee is this: know your ending. When you're writing a book, you need to have an idea of how the story will end in order to make all the other decisions about how your story unfolds. The way the plot ends determines plot elements that come earlier, but also issues of theme and pacing and character development.
In the workplace, this means I'm always asking myself, what's the goal of this project. What does success look like? And then in the job, as in writing, once I have the ending in mind, I work backwards from there to craft the steps I need to get me to my goal.
So it was with a small sense of smug self-satisfaction that I read this (long but very interesting) Wired article on the development of Google+ and saw that the Google exec in charge of the project works in the same way (though as far as I know, he hasn't written a novel).
Gundotra’s philosophy of product design is to envision the demo he will eventually present at the launch event and work backwards from there...
Great minds think alike!