Radio Silence by @TeacherToolkit

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This is a blog about writing your own book.

I’ve never considered myself to be an author, but as I write, I feel completely honoured to be doing so. Having failed English GCSE, my blog has given me a voice and has helped me improve my own writing and literacy. It is nowhere near perfect, but I enjoy the challenge of facing many demons I was not taught at school.

At the same time and quite unexpectedly, the popularity of my blog was also noticed by several publishers, including Bloomsbury Publishing who asked me to write a book.

Book 1:

My first book, 100 Ideas was published in October 2013 and I first started the book after the idea was proposed to me by Bloomsbury in April 2013. Once I finally put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard!), the turnaround was approximately 3-4 months. I still recall editing the book, even after it had been promoted online and the book cover had been released to the world. This was an exhilarating feeling, coupled with pressure to complete the work. I now realise this is all very typical in the editorial world.

The project made me stressed, ill with flu, but more importantly accomplished altogether. Do not under-estimate how daunting it can be to share your own ideas with your peers. You have to be also ready to take criticism, and there has been much of this too.

Some just, some simply unfounded …

Eighteen months on, given that dialogue within education changes so quickly, there is not too much I would change in the first version of the book and I am content in the knowledge that the good ideas I have used for over a decade will stand the test of time, as written in the book.

Money

Bloomsbury, who would occasionally share statistics with me, inform me that the 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers book is one of the top-5 educational books sold within the last 5 years. I’m pretty pleased to hear this given my schooling background and well-before the book reaches its 2nd publication anniversary, it has already sold over 15,000 copies across the world(!). Sadly, the additional income has been used to recover from being redundant 4 years ago!

At the time of writing, I am due to complete my second book on teaching. Contracts, terminology, book-maps and cuttings are a-plenty and I am much, more familiar with the entire process.

Book 2:

My new book has been a labour of love. Almost 2 years since I first agreed to sign off the final details and commissioned to write, I am now in the final stages of writing and have promised myself to ease of Twitter and blogging online whilst I have one final week to myself, working during the Easter holidays. Trying to balance my new job, as well as the demands @TeacherToolkit blogging and the numerous CPD and writing requests it brings, it has all-in-all been very challenging. So much so, that I have resigned myself to write this new book in my holidays only. Often, working late into the night …

My editor joked the other day, that even my publishers are even watching every blogpost I publish as each blog could be 2-3 hours I could be spending, writing my book. I should’ve finished it last year to be honest, but writing and being paid to do so, has mixed blessings. Do not be fooled for one second that it is not hard work. It is and you need the head-space to be able to do it. I now realise though, that I thoroughly enjoy writing.

At the moment, I am very happy with my second book. There is much to do, but this time it is all mine. My own title. My own cover. My own layout and style of content. No more fitting into a mould – despite this being an easy starting point – alongside headline titles I do not really agree with. I love the new concept and have floated the idea about with some close colleagues online and off-line who have provided much reassurance.

For the first three months, I spent most of the time editing a database to create the overview of my book. It is only now with hindsight, that I realise I had proposed an encyclopedia; a book of books! Following on from this period, I used two weeks of the school summer holidays (2014) to write the first draft of the entire book. It was far from perfect, or complete, but at least I had the bare-bones in place and managed to also take some time out to have rest from ‘school thoughts’ and time away from a digital device.

At some point I secured an ex-student who has agreed to be my cartoonist. Her work is incredible!

I then spent a month or two creating the templates for each chapter and section, re-hashing the context and content in the master database. On the rare occasion during the summer term of 2014, I’d blog in the car home using my dictaphone and then email the audio notes to myself before I walked through the door. This was a lifesaver! Voice dictation saved so much time and enabled me to write some very quick chapters on content close to my heart, or events that had filled my school days which had inspired my thoughts …

Book WritingThe book map (left) and all 5 section-by-section layouts on display.

Starting my new job, despite my best hopes, I was unable to even touch a single chapter until Christmas 2014, where I was able to sit and reflect on the first term. With some very long days I was able to complete section 1 of my book.

During February half-term 2015, off I travelled to Canada and did not use any of the free time to write. Easter is now my next window and I have 4 of the 5 chapters left to tweak.

I’m all set-up at home to complete the final sections and will make a start this Monday-Friday. I look forward to sharing the details with my readers next term.

So, for now, some radio silence …

TT.

Radio Silence Offline

Image: SecretKillerOfNames

@TeacherToolkit

In 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account in which he rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on social media in the UK'. In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in Britain' in The Sunday Times as one of the most influential in the field of education - he remains the only classroom teacher to feature to this day ... Sharing online as @TeacherToolkit, he rebuilt this website (c2008) into what you are now reading, as one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK', winning the number one spot at the UK Blog Awards (2018). Today, he is currently a PGCE tutor and is researching 'social media and its influence on education policy' for his EdD at Cambridge University. In 1993, he started teaching and is an experienced school leader working in some of the toughest schools in London. He is also a former Teaching Awards winner for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, London' (2004) and has written several books on teaching (2013-2018). Read more...

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