Do You Want to Write a Book?

How do you know you want to write a book? How do you know a book is what you want to write? What might you do to explore these questions.

  1. You might start writing a page or two a day and see what happens. (Check out Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones or The Artists’s Way by Julia Cameron.)
  2. You might make a rough outline, exploring the scope and structure of what you want to write about. (Is it a book, an article, something in between?) And, yes, books are different lengths. Each book should be about as long as it should be–long enough to thoroughly explore your subject and short enough to not include every bit of extraneous side story or bit of information you know.
  3. Ask yourself why you want to write a book. Really. Be honest with yourself. (Not to be too flip, but if the answer is to make a lot of money or get famous, you might want to spend the hundreds of hours it takes to write a book doing something else.)

I work with people who are writing or want to write a book. If you have an idea or a method of teaching something or knowledge or inspiration or a story to share but haven’t a clue how to get started, or got stuck in a first draft, or don’t know what to do now that you have a finished draft, I guide people through the process—writing to publishing—or any portion of the journey. I’ve worked in book publishing for more than 40 years as a coach, inspirer, task master, goal setter, idea clarifier, and editor.

I’ve probably edited more than 1500 books. (I’ve been working in publishing since 1972.) It is work I love. It is incredibly satisfying to help people articulate what they want to write and then help them write it. I ask dozens of questions. I give deadlines and assignments. I cajole and suggest and praise. Sometimes the assignment is to read. Sometimes it’s to write. Sometimes it’s to make a list. Sometimes it’s to finish an outline–not the final, exact outline that the project will follow. But an outline. A way to get started!

My friend Mark, who is the best computer handholder ever, threw in this picture of a typewriter. I’m not sure why. I love how old typewriters look. But even more I love the tools we have now. Computers won’t write a book for you–at least not yet. But they sure make the doodling, and drafting (but beware the boogie version control), and editing, and publishing a lot easier!

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