I remember all the times I started writing a book that I never finished. I thought I was serious. But not enough to set a certain time every day when I wrote. I could find time whenever right? Not so much. That never worked out… never.
When I wrote my books for Packt, they sent me a schedule. The rough draft had a deadline. In fact, each chapter had a deadline along the way. And I kept that up. And I wrote the chapters in order, even the boring parts. Though I remember staring at my computer for long periods of time without moving my fingers.
The good thing about writing those books was learning the process and getting them done. The bad thing was I never really got much of the fuel I usually get from writing to keep going forward. It’s the reason I stopped at two books.
When I open a file or pick up a pen and start writing, with only an idea of what I am going to write about, I usually discover something. It’s like digging a hole and uncovering treasure that I can only get to with writing. This never happened writing those books.
I knew the outcome. I knew where I was going. I did learn a lot about the technologies I was writing about. There is no better way to learn something like that than write a whole book on it. But nothing really surprised me.
So for the book I am currently writing, I am trying a hybrid approach. Breaking chapters up into subheadings that I can write in one sitting. That worked for a few weeks. Until I ran out of sections I could write by the seat of my pants without research.
Then I got stuck. But no giving up this time. Two weeks before I started on pieces for the book, I started getting up an hour earlier to write at least 500 words. That is still in place. That is still happening. Sometimes I manage to get a section of the book done. Sometimes an unrelated blog post. Sometimes something I want to burn but I need to see that I am keeping up with my promise.
Which makes me wonder if there ever really is a balance in anything like this. The balance between getting 500 words done specifically for the book each day and writing what I want by the seat of my pants. Or if it just involves constantly bouncing between the poles.
For a couple of weeks now, I keep planning on doing research, taking notes and creating a more detailed outline of those more complicated sections of the book, so that I can use that to write every day. That is my current battle.
And I know from experience, this is a cold war. The one who writes can’t be shoved in a box. But I also can’t let this spoiled brat run rampant all over my plans. There is a compromise point somewhere. I found a way in by writing 500 words in the morning before anything else gets in the way. Now I have to take it further.
And this is new territory now. All of it. To see if I can keep the energy going that up to now has only made it maybe 2000 words a sitting. To use a map I created instead of one given to me.
It wasn’t until I started this book, that I realized that writing a non-fiction book is more nebulous that writing fiction or creative non-fiction. With those, you have plot and story to guide the way, a map to keep you on the path to somewhere.
But I am still here. I wrote this. And I will figure this out.