It was hard.
It was also completely worth the effort.
As an engineer, sitting down to write 50,000+ words seemed overwhelming. I’d never written more than 10 or 20 pages for a project, and most of that came in the form of screenshots or bullet points. Writing this blog certainly helped me become a bit more comfortable in the writing process.
But there is no way to write without sitting down in front of a keyboard. It takes plenty of time in the chair with fingers typing away on the keyboard. The process is no different than training for a bike race or a marathon – plenty of time doing the activity.
There are plenty of ways to schedule that time, set goals for a writing session, and progress from idea to published book. Here’s how I handled it, and how I fit it into a busy family and work schedule.
Make writing a priority
Writing had to become an almost daily habit.
It’s all about priorities. Saying yes to one thing is saying no to something else.
I aimed for five or six days of writing per week. During the work week, I woke up early to fit 20-30 minutes of early morning writing into my day. Twenty minute may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a week and several months, it adds up to many hours.
Sit in front of the keyboard
With two kids active in sports, our week contains evenings filled with practice time. During soccer season, I sat in the car with my laptop and typed away. During basketball practices, I sat on the floor in the hallway and wrote more words. Not the most glamorous of locations or the most focused time, but it was writing time. The time is what matters.
On the days with an early morning writing session, I developed a writing rhythm which allowed me to quickly get into the writing flow. With a cup of coffee, my headphones playing the same playlist, and only my writing software open, I could sit down and start typing. Within 20-30 minutes, I could write 500 words. My goal was words on the page, not great words or polished paragraphs.
Some days, the words came easy with paragraphs flowing from my fingers. Other days, I struggled to find a chapter of the story that kept my interest. Even on those days, I made myself type. Anything, even sentences I knew were terrible as I wrote them, counted as progress.
Without the sentences and paragraphs and chapters, there is not story. As the months progressed, my word count increased to 20,000 then 50,000 and finally over 70,000 words as I typed the final word and punctuation mark of the first draft.
With that final keystroke, I felt the same feelings as when I completed my first bike race. The individual moments pain and suffering melted away. What remained was a combination of relief and excitement.
A second post is in the works to document the editing of the book. That was not easy either – my ego took a beating and my wife went through numerous pens correcting my mistakes.
Yeah, this book writing thing is a challenge. However, the feeling at the finish line makes it all worth it!