Writing a book on building a network has been a welcome challenge. I’ve been using muscles I don’t exercise in the course of legal practice.
One departure is that projects like this are entirely driven by internal motivation. There are no external deadlines, no clients to satisfy. You have to give yourself milestones. So you have to build a system that allows you to enjoy the process while making progress.
The creative process differs from traditional practice in another key way. The product is undefined – you are experimenting to determine the outcome. Perfection becomes a form of procrastination. You can’t afford to waste time poring through a document for typos. You can’t wait to share with others to get feedback. You have to be okay with not knowing the right answer, you have to be prepared to be wrong. This is what Josh Waitzkin described in The Art of Learning as Investing in Loss.
As the head of the IP practice at one of my firms put it, lawyers don’t just provide legal solutions, they’re also selling a piece of mind. That’s just as true for an author. You must think about the client (reader) and understand that you’re not pushing information, you’re providing knowledge work. As Peter Drucker explained in The Effective Executive, knowledge work doesn’t have any inherent value unless it’s used.
And you have to sell something. Many lawyers I know would shudder at the idea of selling something. It’s hard to look at the direct-to-consumer model and not conclude that lawyers of the future will sell something. I’m fortunate that my finances are not dependent on book sales. So I can use this as an experiment.