Henry Sienkiewicz’s talks to us about his writing technique.

From tiny idea to the book shops. What is your writing process?

First, I want to thank you for the chance to have a conversation with the readers of WWBB. This month’s topic, “from tiny idea to the book shops. What is your writing process?”, is a fascinating theme. I looked at the theme in two ways. The first way was as one who wanted to create a work, and then as one who wanted to find an audience for the work. 

For Untangled, I started with the classical premise that the unexamined life is not worth living. However, given the constant flow of the entanglements of modern life, is it even possible for us to examine life? Stimuli bombard each of our senses every second. The enablement and empowerment that comes with technology has the potential to make the world fundamentally better. We can’t cast aside the connectivity and the technology. However, social media and the like also have given us dozens of new ways to grab our attention.   We can barely go a minute without our phone buzzing at least once. We constantly check our Twitter feed. Active contemplation, the type of contemplation I focus on in Untangled, lets you find the distance to focus on the things that ultimately matter.

I still struggle to think of myself as a writer. I’m very much an observational, heterogeneous integrator. As an observer, I like to be highly aware of what is going on around me. As a heterogeneous writer, I pull inspiration from diverse sources. But, at the end, I try to integrate all of this into a comprehensive, and hopefully approachable, work.

Three years ago, when I began the process of writing Untangled, I wrote a lot of notes. I mulled through a bunch of ideas. I jotted things down. I eventually transcribed them onto one massive document, although I kept one idea per page. After a few months of writing and transcribing, I spread the individual ideas out on a large table and sorted them. 


I searched hard to find the narrative arc, a backdrop, within the ideas. I searched even harder to make the arc approachable. I know that I’m following in the steps of some the most profound thinkers in human history. I realized that it was critical for both myself and my readers to have a narrative arc by which to follow the ideas.

I also made a conscious decision to let the ideas rest on their own. I didn’t want to put forward specific concrete steps. I didn’t want to mentally lock the reader into thinking that there was one path to take. Many writers offer definitive, universal steps that lead their readers to a pre-set destination. I wanted to avoid that fallacy.

As I start the actual writing and then subsequent editing process, I remember that one of my college instructors gave me some great advice. He told me that I needed to write it down, and put it down. He specifically told me to edit, and re-edit, and then re-edit again. He was right. Writing can be painful for me. It takes me time to find the narrative and construct the words to go with the ideas.

For an overall approach to finding an audience, I marvel at the changes within the book publishing industry over the last decade. My first book, Centerlined, was published in 2006. My approach to finding readers was significantly different than it is today. The disintermediation of the traditional publishing houses and the ability of an author to directly connect with the readers is ground-breaking, or maybe better said, wall-breaking. Venues like WWBB, on-line communities such as Goodreads, the acceptance of ebooks, all of this allow writers to join with readers in way that was not imaginable in 2006. Print on demand solutions, from independent presses to providers like Espresso, offer outlets that allow ideas to be widely sown. My YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A3Trh5BlEw) has generated enormous interest. All of these channels allow writers the privilege of engaging with their readers.

I would like to thank WWBB again, for the privilege of connecting with readers here. If they readers wish to order the book directly from the website (www.untangledthebook.com) they can use the 20% off discount code.

Contemplation and Entanglement

In a  social media-centric, Twitter-driven world we live, the complexity created by the entanglements has caused an overload Called a Walden for the Internet Age, Untangled draws from the rich traditions of both Eastern and Western philosophy to tease apart the hyper-connected web of the modern world and challenges the reader to recognize and embrace contemplation as a way cope. 

Through a highly approachable framework and the imagery of a journey through the heartland of Taiwan, Untangled provides the reader with the background of entanglement and contemplation, and identifies and discusses the three pillars of contemplation – silence, stillness and solitude.  The book closes with a series of actions that allow anyone to untangled through active contemplation in daily life.

Gift Pack: signed paperback, mug and notebook, $25 Visa Gift
Card, and if you buy the book at Book Site, get 20% discount. Enter below:
Author Henry J. Sienkiewicz
Henry J. Sienkiewicz has served in multiple positions within the United States Federal Senior Executive Service since 2008. His previous commercial experience was as the founder and chief executive officer for Open Travel Software, an award-winning software developer focused on the global travel community, and in the chief information officer role at three technology companies. He or his companies have been the recipient of multiple awards for innovations or achievement in the technology industry. He retired as a United States Army Reserve lieutenant colonel in July 2008.

Henry holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Notre Dame and a master of science from Johns Hopkins University. He is also a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

In 2006, he completed and published his first book, Centerlined, which dealt with interpersonal and organizational dynamics.

Henry resides in Alexandria, Virginia.



A Big
Ball of Twine

We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.

As we reached
the first stopping point, we opened our packs and found chaos. The ropes that
we had neatly packed were completely jumbled. The gear we had carefully stowed
had been shifted around; it was an unrecognizable mess.

The jostling
and shifting from the simple movement of the journey caused our coils of rope
to transform from a neat roll to an entangled mess. We thought that we had
taken care to pack them; the journey ensured that we had a mess to deal with.

Our mental
backpacks are similar. Sometimes, regardless of the care we have taken, our
world becomes a completely entangled mess in ways that we had not expected. Our
journey ensures that we have a mess to deal with.