The Writing Process, Part VII: Concluding Thoughts on Book Writing
To conclude this series on writing a book—and to conclude 2021, for that matter—I offer final thoughts on the subject.
Many folks have asked me over the years, “how can you labor on a long project day after day? Doesn’t it become monotonous and boring?” The answer is, “yes, of course, it does.” Everything worth doing—raising children, mastering a sport, excelling at a job, or writing a book—is monotonous and boring at some point, often at many points.
The question is whether one can find enough joy in pursuing a long project to make it worthwhile. If it’s never fun, never rewarding, or never fulfills a need in a person’s psyche, it’s not worth doing.
Assuming that writing a book is deemed worthwhile, the trick is to break down the tasks into discrete, manageable pieces. Tackling a sentence, a paragraph, a page, two pages, a chapter, or a few chapters doesn’t have to be tough if the writer takes them one at a time. Slow and steady wins the race, and all of that.
As I write these words, the year 2021 is almost at an end. A writer who wants to produce a finished manuscript by the end of 2022 certainly can complete the task. Let’s assume the writer already has a topic in mind. He or she can spend January and February performing preliminary research and writing a book proposal to attract a publisher. Let us also assume it’s a short non-fiction book of, say, 75,000 words. The actual writing should take six months, say, from March through September 2022. A few months of polishing and tying up loose ends in the research means that the book could be ready for submission to a publisher by December 2022.
That’s right: A blank page today, December 31, 2021, could be a finished, polished manuscript by December 31, 2022. Before December 31, 2023, the published book could be available for sale on Amazon.com.
In my view, the most satisfying aspect of writing is starting with nothing and making something. That is the key insight, is it not? How can I translate what is inside my brain into written words on a page that communicate with others? If this strikes you as exciting and worthwhile, congratulations. You have caught the writing bug.
Now that I have discussed the writing process in this seven-part series, my 2022 posts will return to discussions of my writing projects. First up, I will outline my new book-in-progress, “'A Finer Spirit of Hope and Achievement': 25 Exemplary American Public Servants.” Stay tuned.