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How to Navigate Writer's Block

Nope, not with a column, but with a book. Ed Brill discusses his latest writing venture.

I'm so busy writing that I'm at a loss for words.

You may have noticed that Highlands and Ravines is appearing a little less frequently this summer on Highland Park Patch. No, I haven't suddenly become shy of in-town controversy. For sure, some recent topics in the news would make for great column fodder. The , the dark 2013 city budget planning, slow construction on Central Avenue or Bloom Street....stories abound.

There are new eateries, , and delayed openings. The 4th of July parade was great, the police are

Even with all of that going on, my time at the keyboard has been dedicated elsewhere. A few weeks ago, I began writing my first book, and it's on a deadline. 

For the last few years of writing for Highland Park Patch and TribLocal, this has all been a hobby. A diversion. A way to contribute to Highland Park. It's not my day job, though, where I am a product management executive for IBM. I've written a couple of times about work-related topics, but for the most part, these two online worlds haven't met. My professional writing stays over on edbrill.com, and local interest has been neatly segregated onto Patch.

A few months ago, IBM's publishing team, unsurprisingly called IBM Press, suggested that I write a book on one of the technology buzzwords of the moment -- "social business." We at IBM have been early pioneers in applying the principles of social networking to business, and we make products and offer services to help other companies adopt similar approaches. The business I manage at IBM happens to have been at the forefront of the transformation from social media into the business world. My blog, Twitter/Facebook presence, and some tools we have on ibm.com have been part of how I work with customers and consultants for nearly a decade.

There are a lot of books available today on social business, it being a trendy topic and all. Most of them look at things from the point of view of company culture, while the rest talk about how marketing can use social networking. When the IBM Press people and I looked out at the market to try to find a book on brand management in the context of social business, there was a void.

I always wanted to write a book but never knew I had it in me. My first real job, well, after the Burger King on Skokie Boulevard and a useless summer where I thought I could caddy golf, was at Waldenbooks in Northbrook Court. For a while, I even had delusions of opening my own book store when I got out of college. That was right when Borders and Barnes & Noble went national, so it seemed like the worst possible time to get into the printed material business. Instead, my career veered into technology, and I've been there ever since.

It was unlikely I would ever have decided on my own to write a book, but when IBM Press asked me to tackle social business from a "lessons learned" point of view, and gave me an incentive in the form of a submission deadline, I took the leap. The publishing process is both slow and fast simultaneously; I am supposed to finish drafting the book in about a month. It takes about an hour to write a single page, what with all the research and thinking and formatting and editing. This has meant a lot of late nights and weekends, since after all, I'm still doing that day job.

If everything goes right, my book should be available sometime in the first quarter of 2013. Meanwhile, I'll be writing here a little less frequently.

With an election, budget cycle, and school negotiations coming up, there should be enough material for me to pop up here every couple of weeks or so.

forest barbieri August 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Ed: Was wondering and just thought you were out of town this summer. Congratulations on your book project and wishing you well. Forest
John Russillo August 17, 2012 at 06:05 PM
It will be nice to hear a fair and balanced voice from HP discuss the teacher contract negotiations. I look forward to your columns, Ed.

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