How I Wrote My BookTuesday, September 13, 2011
My new book, Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace, comes out six weeks from today. You can pre-order it on Amazon here. (Shameless plug? Totally. Welcome to needing to sell a book.)
Having earned money as a freelance writer and having blogged for over twelve years, I thought writing a book would be relatively easy. Sure, it would be more work and would take longer, but I thought the process would be similar to the other writing projects I've taken on in the past.
HAHAHAHAHAHA. So naive.
Writing this book was much more difficult than I thought it would be. It still doesn't rank up there with say, brain surgery, but now I know why authors hole away in the mountains in order to write. I never had the luxury of taking time off to focus exclusively on my book, so I built the time for it into my weekly workflow. I worked on it in small chunks, and tried to meet word count goals rather than specific hourly goals.
For the writing itself, I started out using Pages (Apple's version of Word), but didn't like it. I was distracted easily and would find myself checking email or catching up on blog reading. Plus, I found myself editing everything as I wrote, which meant that most of my ideas were staying in my head rather than getting onto the screen.
After researching book writing software, I purchased WriteRoom, a program that blacks out your screen so you're not as easily distracted while you write. Not only does it keep you from easy Internet access, it allows you to just write and worry about editing later. It also has a handy word count feature in the lower corner that stays hidden until you roll your mouse over it. There are some other book writing software programs out there that will help you mindmap and sort by chapter and so forth, but for me, the simplicity of WriteRoom was exactly what I needed.
There were some days when I was just stuck and the computer wasn't helping. I found that using a plain old-fashioned notebook did the trick for those bouts of writer's block. Up until college, all of my papers and projects were required to be handwritten. Since I was initially trained to do my creative thinking with pen and paper, it makes sense that those things are still such a powerful part of how my brain works. Old habits die hard.
Often when I was out, I'd get an idea for the book and I'd use the notes app on my iphone to write it down.
Those were the three ways I actually captured the ideas: computer, paper notebook, iphone.
I have backup programs for my computer, but being paranoid about losing all this work, I used my own DIY backup systems as well. Everything I had was emailed to myself, a backup gmail account, Evernote, and to my Backpack account. Overkill? Perhaps, but being no stranger to hard drive crashes, I wasn't taking any chances.
In the coming weeks I'll share more about pulling the writing together and editing it into something cohesive, the publishing aspect, and the other details that went into seeing this book come to fruition.
Book cover design by Kelly Ashworth