I’m on day 35 of the book I’m writing for Allworth Press on public speaking for authors—give or take a few days I lost due to a family emergency earlier this month. I have around 30 more to go in order to meet my strict deadline. Book-writing is an interesting process and we all approach it a little differently. Of course, what I do is write, so I don’t have to juggle taking care of little kids or working at a full-time job with the writing. And deadlines, while I complain about them, really do keep me focused.
I get up somewhere between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m. as a rule. (Yes, I go to bed with the chickens—well, not in the coop…). I start my mornings taking care of office and SPAWN business—shipping books, returning emails, communicating with new SPAWN members, handling bookwork, and writing this blog, for example. And then I get right to work on the book.
For me, it has been a process of writing, interviewing, organizing and reorganizing the material and a lot of rewriting to make it all work. It’s rather interesting to watch a book grow from a few thoughts and jotted notes to an 80,000-word manuscript and transform from a garbled, disorganized, meaningless jumble to something actually useful and worth reading. I love watching a book take shape, don’t you? Sometimes it seems as if it is by magic. Other times—well, if you’re a writer, you know—it can be torture.
They say that it takes an average of 725 hours to write a nonfiction book. That’s 90 eight-hour days or eighteen weeks or four and a half months. I’m putting in mostly eight and ten-hour days seven days a week in order to complete this one within approx. two months. And I’m doing it without having received the advance, yet. I hear it’s in the mail, though.
How long does it take you to write a book? I know people who have spent twenty years to finally finish a book. Some never finish. For some, it’s like putting a book away to read someday. The book doesn’t seem like such a good idea now. My bookshelves, for example, are full of books I thought I would someday read and now I don’t have much interest in them.
I once completed a sixteen-chapter book for a client (a book on how to get credit) in around three weeks. They wanted a rush job and were willing to pay for it.
Well, I’d better get to work on the book. I’m in a more enjoyable stage of it. The organization process drives me crazy—which quote should I put where? How should I divide the chapters, etc. Now I have the book pretty much set and I’m doing some preliminary fine-tuning to make the transitions work and to create continuity and flow in the material. I still have a few chapters left to write in some coherent manner. And then it is on to the last fine-tuning stage.
Sometimes I get bored during the last stage of writing the book. I become tired of looking at it and ready to move on to something else. That’s usually when I will drive down to the beach and take a walk to clear my head, refresh my brain and seek a renewed sense of joy for the project.
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