What does it take to write a book? Many of the people who contact me for the first time believe that it’s just a matter of, “Sitting down and writing the darn thing.” They think it should take a weekend, maybe two weeks at most. They don’t understand why I tell them it will probably take a year or more of hard work.
Why does it take so long? And why isn’t it a matter of “just doing it?”
Your Brain and Your Book Are Different
Your brain is a giant, amazing mass of neural connections. Most of the time, that’s great. It’s not great when you must turn your ideas into a book. A book is sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, chapter after chapter in line and in order. Your brain and your book are two fundamentally different structures. You must overcome the difference before you start writing.
Get as much as you can out of your head and into a pile or into a file. Get all the ideas. Get your possibilities. Think about your sources and illustrations. Don’t worry about what order they come in or how they connect. Don’t worry about using all of them. Just get them out of your head so you can use them in your book.
If your ideas are in your head, there’s nothing we can do with them. So, get them out first. Then, put them in some sensible order.
Just Write It
Once you’ve got that stuff out of your head and in some order, you can start writing. When you do, you’ll spot things that need more support. You’ll see gaps in your reasoning or your material. That’s why experienced writers will tell you that your first draft is the worst draft.
It’s awful. It’s riddled with issues. But that’s okay, it’s a start. Great writing is iterative. You go over the material several times in different drafts, refining it. You exclude some things you thought were important. You bring in things you didn’t think about until you started writing.
You’ll probably do at least three or four full revisions. Each time, your book will get a little better.
Stay the Course
Because writing a book takes several drafts, it also takes a long time. Most of my clients find that the hardest part of writing a book is fitting it into their schedule that’s already full to overflowing.
You’re not likely to be done in a weekend, a couple of weeks, or even a month. Most book projects take at least a year. Many writers abandon their project in the middle because it’s just not worth the tradeoffs they must make with the rest of their life and loved ones.
When You’re Done Writing, You’re Not Done Yet
When you’re done writing, you can heave a sigh of relief. The big pressure’s off. The book is done. But wait, there’s more.
Your book will need a professional edit, which will probably raise questions you need to answer. Unless you’re expecting your book to sell itself, you must plan the marketing. That means getting testimonials. It means setting up a launch campaign.
Writing a book is hard work. It takes time and attention. You’ll make tradeoffs with your loved ones and the rest of your life. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Writing a book starts with getting things out of your head and into a file.
You will write several drafts, each one better than the one before.
Your book will probably take a year or more to write.
Because it takes up time, your book will require you to make tradeoffs with things and people you love.
When you’re done writing, you’re not done with the book.