Writing a Book on Whatsapp -- Andrew Crofts


Although it is quite possible to keep writing during lockdowns, quarantines and the various other restrictions we are currently living under, Covid has made it hard to spend face-to-face interview time with people. If you are planning to write a full-length book with someone, it is possible to do the necessary talking via Skype, Zoom or whatever else you are comfortable with, but not as good when it comes to getting to know them and their voices thoroughly.

Needs must, however, and so I suggested to a new client who did not want to wait until after the plague times have passed before writing his book, that we utilise Skype for the purpose of him telling me his story.

“Let’s use Whatsapp,” he suggested and I did my best not to panic, only ever having used Whatsapp to communicate with my wife and children, and the occasional friend who has managed to gravitate there from text messaging.

“I’m not sure that I know how …” I started.

“It’ll be good,” he assured me, “I will just leave you voice messages.”

I reluctantly agreed, not wanting to appear unadventurous, and assuming that I could always find help with the technology later, if required. For the next twenty-four hours my phone pinged every few minutes to tell me another message had landed, and has kept pinging sporadically after that. The total is now well over a hundred and fifty voice messages and still climbing. Some of the messages are no more than a minute or two long, some stretch to ten minutes or more. The client knows his subject so thoroughly he doesn’t require me to prompt him with questions, he simply lets the thoughts flow as he has them.

It certainly isn’t a technique that would work for everyone – most people need a great deal of coaxing and encouraging before they are able to talk openly and freely, but it seems like a neat adaptation of existing technology for the very specific needs of these tiresome times.    


Umberto Tosi said…
Intriguing. I've never tried Whatsapp myself, but now I'm inclined to do so. It sounds effective for dialog over time, rather than face-to-face in one chunk. Good luck with your project.
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Andrew,

Seems in these crazy times, we must adapt to whatever works. Whatsapp is as good as Zoom , and better than Skype.

FB has Messenger Room now too, which mimics Zoom. All good if it gets the job done!

Hope you're well,
That sounds as if it is worth trying. I suppose Whatsapp is a good option - apart from the pinging. I'm in a family Whatsapp group - my sister-in-law, the next generation and various other in-laws, and there was a huge amount of activity during lockdown abd then the school holidays, with the younger ones posting videos and jokes. Some days th pinging never stopped!
I wonder if Teams might also work for something like this, as it has quite a good chat function (but also tends to make a lot of noise!)
Rituparna Roy said…
Hi Andrew, we definitely need to adapt to the times.

In mid-May, when Cyclone Amphan hit the eastern coast of India & Bangladesh, we couldn't have online classes for 2 weeks (I teach in an undergraduate college in Kolkata). I sent audio lectures to my students then via WhatsApp groups. Helped me tide the crisis & finish the syllabus. WhatsApp has become an important conduit for information flows in our teaching system during the pandemic.

All the best with your new book!


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