The Totally Boring Process of Writing a Book
This is the year you write a book. I believe that. But if you’re anything like me, that process won’t look like what you think.
I remember several years ago I had a personal coach who asked me what my dream was. Very reluctantly, I said I wanted to write a book… eventually. He asked what I was doing to accomplish that goal.
I explained to this coach that writing was very technical but at the same time mystical, and it required a lot of brainstorming and inspiration before you could sit down to do the work.
“So,” he said, “how much are you writing?”
I cleared my throat so I could make my point more clear. He must not have heard me.
“Well, you see, it’s a very complicated process. I’m currently in the research phase, so I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and listening to podcasts to make sure I’m prepared for the Muse.”
He very gently prodded, “Well, I’m no expert, Jeff, but I think what it takes to write a book is to actually start writing. Right?”
I hung up the phone.
The truth hurts
Turns out, my coach was right.
What makes a writer is the writing. Sure, market research and platform building and networking with other people in your industry can prove helpful. But books get written in the most boring way possible: you have to sit down and write them.
The trouble is most of us don’t know where to start. I sure didn’t. In fact, I still don’t know what to do most of the time. At times, writing is a process that feels spiritually-charged, full of inspiration and epiphany. Other times, most of the time, it feels completely mundane.
But there is beauty in the boredom.
Some of the most useful life lessons I’ve learned have been amidst mundane circumstances — while waiting for something to happen, holding out for the next best thing, looking forward to the future. In those subtler, in-between times, I learned something was happening. I was growing.
Life is like that, and so is writing.
Here’s how it works
So what does this “boring” process actually look like? When I was working on The Art of Work, I learned that it takes three things to write a book:
- You need to schedule time to write. The bottom line is the book won’t write itself, and the universe won’t conspire to make it easy for you. In fact, it’ll most likely be the opposite. You will have to carve out time to write.
- You need someone to support you in the process. Ideally, this is a community of people who can encourage you when you get stuck. For me that was the My 500 Words group, an online writing group I started.
- You need a target to aim for. Since I wrote my book in Scrivener, I set a due date of March 1 and a total word count of 55,000 words (which is about the length of a 200-page book). Each day, this app told me how many words I needed to write (which was about 500). This gave me something to shoot for and a sense of how on track I was.
So that’s how it works, or maybe I should say, that’s how you work. Because writing is something that often feels like a job. But if you get up and do it enough, you discover a joy that surpasses temporary thrills and short-term excitement.
That’s how you write a book. You write.
If this is going to be your year, the year in which your words come to life, you’re going to need time to write, a community to support you, and a system to keeping you on track.
And one resource I recommend for this is Author Launch. This is a brand-new online course that will hold you accountable to not only writing, but launching, your book — with 46 lessons taught by a bunch of smart people and me. I’m a proud contributor to and affiliate of this resource.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from doing something boring? Share in the comments.