Organising and repurposing your content

Organising and re-purposing your content for your book

Between 1947 and 1956 an amazing discovery was made along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, writing in the form of scrolls hidden in secret caves.  It is thought that either a Jewish sect called the Essenes wrote all the parchment and papyrus scrolls or that a number of communities compiled them, hiding them around the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70).  The scrolls which contain stories about biblical figures, bring new light and understanding to our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity.   The importance of the scrolls is that they provide us with a knowledge map of how the bible may have been compiled and was shared from generation to generation.

There is a sense of amazement when the discovery of lost knowledge comes to light.  New understanding enables us to artfully re-use, re-cycle, rework, and casts a pathway that propels you through the labyrinth of your own data collections, gathering together vital pieces of information, forming new knowledge, wisdom and new creations (content).

The knowledge challenge

We all know a lot, however, knowing what we know can be a challenge.  Plus some of what we know is already articulated and some remains in our heads, its stuff that we just know and do on an unconscious level and for the purpose of our book needs documenting. In a ‘knowledge management’ environment the things that have been articulated are called explicit knowledge and those that are in our heads are called tacit knowledge.

For your book, you may be thinking of leveraging existing articulated content (explicit), existing unarticulated content (tacit) and formulating new content from your thinking and research.

The knowledge formula

To make sense of our knowledge we need to locate it and create a map of where it is and how to access it. To do that we start with the knowledge formula.

Knowledge = Knowledge (explicit) + Knowledge (tacit)

Explicit = you can touch and feel it because it has already been expressed – you can lick it.

Tacit = its in your head, it is your unconscious competence (you just do it without thinking).

To make the formula work we need to gather together what we know we have, along with the stuff we know but don’t always know that we know, or even know how to articulate to others and therein lies the knowledge challenge. Confusing isn’t it?

The knowledge challenge and the unconscious competence model

The learning model unconscious competence explains what stages we go through to acquire new knowledge.

 Unconscious comptence

Unconscious incompetence model

Unconscious Incompetence – You don’t know what you don’t know, be kind to yourself.

Conscious Incompetence – Give yourself plenty of space, time and encouragement.  It will get better.

Conscious Competence – Stay focused and keep practising.

Unconscious Competence – Well done. Remember how tough it was to get here, stay on track and try not to get complacent.

One way to understand how this works is this.

Stop and think about how you might make a cup of tea.  Now write all of the steps down and then teach someone else what you do.  Easy?  Now find a subject that you are an expert in, try it again.  Still easy?

Think it through, walk it through, break it down into chunks, map it out and test Keep refining and changing your processes until they work for you.

Understanding this model will also help you when it comes to laying out your book and establishing flow and trying to get your points across.

Keeping a track of your knowledge

If you haven’t already done so, create a master spreadsheet of your knowledge / content – create columns, such as:-

  • Category (chapter or Book and chapter)
  • What it is (blog, report, video, presentation)
  • Type (facts, concepts, procedures, know how)
  • Where it is?
  • Explicit or tacit?
  • How you will use it?
  • What questions will this answer?
  • Research needed?

Discovering your knowledge with a knowledge audit

Go and find your content / knowledge and list it in your spreadsheet, then specify if it is explicit or tacit. After you have made you list the next step is to pull it together in some kind of a system, be that something electronic like a file folder or Evernote or by putting it into a document folder or a combination.

Your tacit column will tell you what you have to find a way to articulate it, and possibly undertake some research.

Organising your content with a knowledge Map

A knowledge map is useful for organising related information in a structured manner that facilitates comprehension by showing the connections between the information pieces. In your spreadsheet this is the category, how you will (re)use it and what questions does it answer?.

E.g. think of your book outline, you could organise your ‘stuff’ by chapter and in doing so you can see a logical flow and know how it will address your readers needs.

When you know what you have, you can plan how you will use it.

What is re-purposed content?

In simple terms it is taking what you have and reusing it in a way that fits the new purpose. E.g. The content you have pulled together from blogs and articles can be reused as part of your book and vice versa what you write for your book can be reused for blogs, videos, tweets etc.

If you are an entrepreneur you will probably have enough material on your blog to write many books.

When you are collecting your knowledge and content think of all the ways, not just as a book you can use it. Identify your reuse purpose in your spreadsheet.

Being critical about your content

Undertaking the organisation of your knowledge and content is a brilliant way to keep on top of the content for a book, but it is really important that you also know how that content fits with a) your book and b) fulfils a need for your reader. In other words don’t reuse it if it doesn’t fit, hence the category and what questions does this answer. And be tough!

Do not throw anything away

Keep it all, even if it doesn’t seem to be useful right now, you never know!

Which book

Once you have all of your knowledge and content mapped out, you will be able to see if you have one or many books and stuff for blogs etc.

 

8 Replies to “Organising and repurposing your content”

  1. Jacqui, what a comprehension and logical organization of some very valuable tips! I’m going to be referring back to this, since I do have a rather lengthy rough draft of a book in the files, and I’m not sure what to do with it! Thanks!

    1. I would put subtitles in the document and see how it flows, write up the question that the chapter answers and in each chapter use the what, why, how and what if structure. Use the navigation pane in WORD and check for flow. I am really visual and I have to see it coming together. I am just finalising a book now and this keeps me on track (ish) 🙂 Then you can see what is missing and then you can do your knowledge audit. – Phew

  2. Love the unconscious competence model. Also find the knowledge mapping really useful too when I do it. I do have an awful lot of content in different places and really need to get organised with it all. Structure and organisation. Hmm a new project…

  3. Nicely put, Jacqui.

    I very much agree with what you wrote towards the end that whilst we formulate, structure, categorise our knowledge and create a knowledge map, it’s then important to keep in mind the needs/desires of the end user/reader. It’s bringing the knowledge in synch with that need or desire.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s so overwhelming at the outset of writing a book. That’s why so many people take so long to even start! I have so many books in my head, and this gives me a way to begin to organize the information so I can make something of them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *