The Author Journey: What’s Working (and What’s Not) With My Process So Far
Last month, I kicked off an article series in conjunction with a new book project I’m currently working on. True to my word, with one month now past, I’m back to provide an update and offer some insight into the process. This time around, I wanted to follow-up on a few things I discussed in my previous post as well as touch on a few other things I’ve discovered since then. More specifically, I want to share a few things that are working well for me as I make progress on my manuscript as well as a couple of other things that, well, aren’t.
What’s Working for Me
Having an outline
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: having an outline is key when writing a non-fiction book. Sure enough, having a master list of stories I want to tell is saving my butt as I’m able to hop from one tale to another should inspiration hit or if (more likely) I hit a snag in my current writings. Obviously, there will come a day when I’ll need to break through those blocks lest I have a number of halted chapters on my hands — but, for now, my scattershot approach is working fine.
Putting off editing
While I’ve been making some progress in penning a rough draft of some of my chapters, I have yet to do much polishing. Granted, I have gone back a couple of times to add in ideas I had while away from my keyboard but, on the whole, I have yet to do a formal round of editing. This means that I sometimes “close out” a chapter without be totally happy with it. However, to my slight surprise, this hasn’t really nagged at me as much I once thought it would. Surely I’ll get around to doing some editing one of these days (perhaps upon hitting a wall with new chapters), but I’m quite content for now.
A funny thing happened when I updated my computers to the latest Mac OS Catalina: I lost access to my Microsoft Office apps. To be fair, I was warned of this before installing the update, but I mistakenly thought I’d be entitled to just download a newer version of the software without paying another fee for some reason. Clearly I was wrong on that front and I didn’t feel like adding a Microsoft 365 subscription to my growing list of services, so I needed to find a different option.
Luckily, over the past few months, I’ve become fairly familiar with using Google Docs. In addition to being free, another benefit to using this option is the ability to easily sync my progress so that I can pick up where I left off regardless of which computer I’m using (more on that in a moment). That said, I have come across some hiccups where Google Docs just stops saving for whatever reason. Thankfully, I haven’t lost any work from these instances yet — but you can bet that, if I do, Google Docs will be moving to the bottom of this list pretty darn quick.
What’s Not Working for Me
Holding book work until the afternoon
In my initial post, I mentioned that waking up earlier had afforded me more flexibility in my schedule and, thus, more time to write. Well, that’s partially true — except that my plan of perhaps jumping into other work and saving the book stuff for later is not a winner. As it turns out, if I don’t start with my manuscript in the morning, there likely won’t be an opportunity to do it later. This is not only because life often gets in the way as various things arise during the day but also because, to be honest, it’s much harder to do more work when you feel like you’ve already finished everything you need to. So, until I get to a place where my motivation is strong enough to overcome that obstacle, I’m moving my writing sessions to the mornings.
Sticking to one device
This may seem silly, but I’ve found that the medium or machine I use when writing my manuscript can really impact my work. More accurately, I’m finding that I prefer using a variety of devices and having different work set-up options at my disposal. That’s why, instead of heading straight for my desktop computer as I normally would to start my work day, I’ve been experimenting with grabbing my laptop and spending some time on the couch in the mornings. For the record, I’m also desperately awaiting a day when I can sit inside a Starbucks once again,
Adding the laptop option to the mix has been pretty nice and novel so far. However, I’m also looking forward to incorporating yet another device to my line-up soon: an iPad Pro (with keyboard). Sure, this may sound suspiciously similar to the laptop, but I’m expecting it could provide a decidedly unique experience. Plus, if I really want to, I could merge the old school and new by actually writing my material by hand before converting to text — although my handwriting is downright awful, so maybe this isn’t the best idea. By the way, lest you worry, I didn’t purchase the iPad just for the purpose of this book, so if it doesn’t work out, it won’t be a total waste.
One month after embarking on my latest book project, things are going pretty well, but they certainly aren’t perfect. While some of the prep I put in ahead of time is now paying off, there are still some adjustments I’m making to my process and work schedule. With that, if all goes to plan, hopefully I’ll have more to share on exactly what my book is about and other such topics when the next installment of The Author Journey series continues in August.
Also published on Medium.