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1/ Here's a case study on how I distill the main ideas in a book of 80-100k words into a blog post of less than 5k words

Doing this helps me understand and integrate it deeply for myself, creates common knowledge among my audience, and makes the ideas more accessible generally
2/ I start by reading the book cover to cover on Kindle for iPad, which for a book of this size and complexity takes me about 12-15 hours. The book was How Emotions Are Made by Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, which I estimate is somewhere between 80-100k words amazon.com/How-Emotions-A…
3/ Once finished, I export the Kindle highlights (the key points and examples I felt necessary to recreate the main line of reasoning) to Evernote, which were about 17k words: evernote.com/l/AMzjOSVukCtN…
4/ Then, I do two passes on these notes. First one is bolding the main point in each paragraph or so, so that I have a "handle" with which to get the gist of a paragraph in a couple seconds. Second pass is highlighting the best of these key points, so I know what to prioritize
5/ Bolded passages probably amount to around 12k words, highlighted passages around 8k words. That's small enough to copy the main points and surrounding passages into an outline, which is about 7k words: evernote.com/l/AMyTZlONH3BJ…
6/ This outline is key because it is the first time I'm changing the ORDER of ideas from what the author originally chose. And I usually radically change the order, placing ideas as supporting points under a "heading" that represents a major milestone in the chain of reasoning
7/ At this point, I've done SELECTION (with the bolding and highlighting), and SEQUENCING (in the outline), which are the two major tasks that can't, in my experience, be done in the same step. Now I'm ready to start writing
8/ And writing is pretty easy at this point. I just have to string together the headings, finding my way from one to the other using the supporting points as "handholds."
9/ And I get to focus all my attention on language, presentation, not being redundant, challenging existing assumptions, etc. because all the more difficult conceptual and strategic questions have already been decided. The flow is palpable and intoxicating
10/ The first draft is pretty complete, and I get feedback from people, all in the same doc so that they can interact with each others' comments. It's now about the length it will end up being, about 4,700 words: docs.google.com/document/d/1EL…
11/ When I've integrated as many comments and changes as I can, I do a completely new second draft, retyping it from scratch to add freshness to the language and to be able to make more fundamental structural changes that still feel natural: docs.google.com/document/d/1-3…
12/ After that, I get a second round of feedback and integrate any further changes, but usually nothing too fundamental at this stage. Final version gets copied to Wordpress and published and promoted in quick succession: praxis.fortelabs.co/how-emotions-a…
13/ This is the most elaborate and lengthy process I would follow to summarize a single book, which I did for a few reasons: to integrate this way of thinking as deeply as possible (because it's foundational for my future work),
14/ To make these ideas as widely accessible as possible, since it was a difficult read that I think most people not in the field will have difficulty getting through, and because I will be using them in upcoming projects and a talk I'm giving in June
15/ After so much time spent with this material, around 30 hours, I can speak confidently and accurately about them, integrate them into talks, answer common questions. It's the closest experience I know of to actually acquiring that knowledge short of doing the research myself
16/ And having the in-between layers means I can easily share more detailed notes with ppl who want to know more about the specifics. Or for my own future review and remembering
17/ Another thing: most of those hours were not primetime working hours. Right up until actually writing paragraphs, I do all the highlighting and outlining on my iPad during gaps between other things, or while traveling, or in the evenings
18/ This approach is actually better described as reinterpretation, because I'm adding my own language, my own examples, even my own conclusions. But I call it "summarization" to give all possible credit to the original author, and avoid plagiarism
19/ Here are the other books I've followed more or less this process with: praxis.fortelabs.co/category/book-…
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