Writing a Book for Yourself

Writing a Book for Yourself

Back in the 2006-2008 era of my life I wrote a lot of posts at this blog. I published 80% of the posts here during that time. One day I decided I was going to wake up 2 hours earlier, get to work before everyone else and write blog posts until it was time to work. It paid off. The traffic during that time grew to 1500 visitors a day and my other affiliate sites were bringing in more money.

Around that time Packt contacted me after an editor there read one of the articles on my blog and asked me if I wanted to write a book on Piwik Analytics. I had wanted to write a book since was 14. Of course, not a technical book, more like “The Great American Novel”. So I wrote the book. I hit every deadline and had a full length book in my hands in less than a year. The same thing happened when I wrote a book on the Phalcon framework for them except that book was smaller and done in a few months.

The problem I ran into is that when I sat down to write a book before those two, it never happened. I worked on it a few days and it sort of faded away and I forgot about it a few weeks later. Something about the deadlines and being held to them by someone else must have been the key.

It is hard to say though, whether or not I enjoyed writing those books. I guess there were times I did. But again, not the subjects I would write about if I had picked one myself. They followed the standard coding book format that every publisher follows. And when I learned to code, I only made it the way through the first one of these type of books. All the rest, I got a few chapters in and started flipping around for things that seemed interesting or for information on things I wanted to do.

But I do have to say I would write those books again. I got to understand the publishing process. I learned to flesh out an outline in a few hours and come up with a synopsis for each chapter in a few days. I knew all the editing and proofreading that needed to happen. And I made sure I wrote a certain amount of words each day, because a new chapter was due every couple of weeks. I had no clue how to do this at the beginning. I just made it up as I went along and it just worked.

Now thinking back to my “writing” career before that, I have read close to 100 books on writing a novel. I know the “ins” and “outs” of everything you can learn from a book about writing a novel. But I never finished one. Started 3 or 4. But never go farther that that.

For now, I am still leaving fiction writing on the back burner. But I having been thinking about a nonfiction book for a couple of years now. And it’s time to start. To write a book for myself, with me setting a deadline for things, but writing what I want, without a predefined format. Starting with creating a habit of writing like I once did with blogging, like I did with other people’s book ideas.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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