By BRUCE DENNILL
The Future Starts Now: Expert Insights Into The Future Of Business, Technology and Society by Theo Priestley and Bronwyn Williams is a comprehensive history of tomorrow, exploring groundbreaking topics such as AI, privacy, education and the future of work. While the guidance, insight and predictions are fascinating for anyone curious about what the future may hold, the book also functions as an invaluable guide for business professionals looking to steer their career or their organisation with foresight and confidence.
How do you know when an idea is worthy of developing into a book? With songs or other shorter formats, you can get to a point of knowing if something will work relatively soon, but getting several thousand words into a manuscript and then deciding it’s a waste of time is far more frustrating.
When a publisher says they will publish it? Ha! The more serious answer is you know you are onto something when other people want to get involved. In our case, we pitched the idea to our industry peers using a one-page manifesto of what we had in mind and had a very enthusiastic response – with more people wanting to get involved than we could ever fit into the project.
Research: how much do you do, and how detailed is it?
Lots! But researching interesting ideas about the future is actually my day job, so in this case it was simply a case of going back and pulling out the best of the ideas I’d already collected over the last few years.
How much planning do you do before beginning in earnest? Do you have to know where you’re going to end up before you start?
Yes, for this book and for most of the long-form research reports I do (around 30,000 words), I start with a full contents outline, then break that down into subheads (one for each key point), and only then string the actual sentences together that make up the work. Obviously, fiction is a whole other beast.
If the hundreds of memes about writing are to be believed, sitting down and actually putting words on a page is perhaps the toughest part of the job. What are the distractions you battle with the most when trying to work?
There is always time for another cup of coffee. Or for another scroll through Twitter to find someone being wrong on the internet.
What’s the weirdest or craziest way you’ve found to avoid meeting a deadline?
Usually, writing something else – but less important, and longer.
Daily goals: what, for you, is an acceptable daily target, in terms of wordcount or the quality of what you complete, be it a sentence, a paragraph or a chapter?
I’m happy with 500 words a day. But honestly, I’m more feast or famine, so I might average 500 words a day, but in reality, it’s more like 39 days of procrastination, followed by one day of 20,000 words.
What have you found are the best ways to get this done?
Have someone else make me feel guilty. I’m happy to pay for this service. I’m happy to let myself down but I have a horror of letting anyone else down. As such, having a co-editor on The Future Starts Now was ideal – I couldn’t let Theo down!
If writing books is not your full-time job, how does completing a project fit in with your other duties?
What else are Saturday mornings in bed for?