I began my writing career over 25 years ago writing short articles for local newspapers. At the time, I thought spending a week working on a 1,000-word-or-so article was a long time.
Over the years, I continued to write articles, eventually graduating to longer more complicated magazine pieces. Churning these out one after another became the norm. Each required some research and writing skill, but not as much as goes into writing a book.
Though I began writing shorter books early on—my first was one on solar energy that was 20 years ahead of its time—none of these projects demanded as much of me as the book projects I’m working on now.
My total immersion into book writing began in 2005. For about a year before that I knew deep down inside that it was time for me to move on to longer works, and as the Honda commercials so aptly put it, “Mr. Opportunity came a knockin’.” Then, instead of working on a project for a few days, I began working on ones that took 10-12 weeks or more.
This level of intense concentration on one subject was at first daunting. But after finishing my first 100,000-word+ manuscript–it actually was 130,000 words—my mind became used to the routine of 16-hour work days.
Working on a book necessitates that my mind be constantly working. While I’m writing one chapter, I’m researching the next, thinking about another, and editing the last. It’s not until about a fourth of the way into the writing of a book that the book’s concept begins to gel. It’s then that I begin to visualize the entire book as a unit.
So many beginning writers want to write books—I suppose for all the “glamour” and credibility that they perceive comes with them. But what they don’t realize is that no only are their writing skills not fully developed but neither are their thinking skills. And it’s because of the latter that 99 percent of the books started never get finished.
So before you set out to tackle those big projects, start out slowly with smaller ones. Sharpen your writing and your thinking skills and soon you’ll be on your way to writing success.