The Story of a Book that Never Was

Nov 26, 2013 | Writing A Book

Gary wandered into my life for the first time about a decade ago. We were at a party hosted by a mutual friend. That friend told Gary that I helped people get a book written. He sought me out to talk about it.

I thought it would work. Gary was a successful consultant in a niche industry. He knew a lot about the industry. He had some interesting ideas. And he was well known in the industry, so his book would probably sell.

We had a few sessions and worked out a plan for his book. Gary wanted to publish with his industry trade association, so we put together a plan. Gary sold the idea and I thought we were good to go.

But not much happened. Gary decided he had to do more research and convinced the publisher to delay the project for a year. Then he wanted to rework the outline based on that research. After a few months, the publisher agreed.

It was tough for Gary to carve out time to write. He was enjoying his consulting work and travel. He tried getting up early and staying up late. He tried blocking out time on the weekends and taking a week to write at a secluded cabin. Nothing worked.

In the end he told the publisher that the book just wasn’t going to get done. He simply wasn’t willing to take time away from work he loved to pursue the book project. That was probably the right decision for Gary.

I failed Gary. I could have pushed him to write earlier in the process. If he had done that, he probably would have learned that he really didn’t want to give up work he loved for writing a book.

Gary’s experience is the reason that I now recommend to every client who wants to write a book that they start by writing a “zero draft.” Clients who do that learn two important lessons.

They learn about the book and their ideas and where the holes are. When they write a first draft, it’s much, much better.

They also learn if they want to do the hard work of writing. Writing a book is a big commitment. It takes time and energy that would otherwise be spent somewhere else. And it usually means less time with friends and loved ones.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of writing a book, try out the writing process to see if you’re willing to make the commitment.