How One eBook Author Writes eBooks
How does this eBook writing process actually work for an individual? It is truly a unique experience for all of us. I will share with you some personal thoughts about my process.
The start of the process is the idea. That's never been a problem for me. I consider myself an idea man; a person who can brainstorm both real and fanciful ideas that I hope others will recognize as important and 'run with them'. I don't have the time or energy to pursue all the ideas myself nor would I want to. Most people have marvellous ideas for eBooks. We've all said to ourselves, Some day I would like to write a book about _____________.
Assuming you have the idea for an eBook, what happens next? Ignoring the formatting and research and gathering of resources and all those myriad of other things you must physically do to write the eBook, what is the process really like? I keep an expandable file folder for ideas. My optimism says it must be expandable! I also keep small notepads or scraps of paper handy at all times to record my wonderful ideas! One thing I've learned is to put enough detail into these notes so they make sense several days, weeks or months later. Too often I've re-read my jottings only to find out they don't make any sense at all and I wonder why I even bothered to make a note in the first place. Or I frustrate myself because that gem of an idea is gone!
Certain activities are more conducive than others for getting those little brain waves. I find driving the car or riding my bicycle on long rides produce most of my ideas. Waiting in doctor's offices is inspirational. Talking to others about the topic also elicits good ideas which I promptly write down and thank the person to whom I am speaking for providing me with a good idea. So does going to bed and reading a magazine. I think it's the nodding off that does it!
I also like to play around with titles for my eBook. It's great fun and gives your more creative side of the brain a chance to do something useful. Let you imagination loose on the job of a title. The more of these you write the more you are also painting that 'big picture' of envisioning your eBook in print. Think also about what graphics or pictures may appear on the cover. You will have many options when the time comes to choose a title. Enjoy the process.
Everyone has some specific time of the day when she/he is at her/his best to write. Ideas may come at any time but writing and organizing thoughts require a special time for most people. My most productive time is early morning especially if I wake up early (even 4:30 a. m.!) and my brain has ideas flowing! I get up and write. If I have little time I will jot down ideas in point form under a heading so I have enough details to flush it out later. Whatever your time, you will probably, like myself, need some quiet time. Quiet makes me more productive and since I only write when I am ready to do so, I don't want to waste any time. I let my ideas flow during these sessions. I handwrite my notes using short cuts for words. I also keep an outline of topics handy to jot down ideas under the appropriate topic so I don't forget them.
I use the computer and word processing software to produce the draft copies from my handwritten notes. I do this 'translation' of my notes to the keyboard ones during those times when I am not at my creative best like late afternoon or early evening. I still keep note pads handy for any 'flashes of brilliance' that may come my way.
Once I've got the draft copy done I print it off with double or triple spacing and in a print quality as low as I can get to preserve my cartridge. The spacing is for corrections and changes which I do in red. If someone else is also going to proof your material he/she can write their suggestions in a different colour on the same draft copy. I also do this same thing using a red font directly on the document on the computer. I sometimes make a duplicate of the document and use the duplicate for editing.
I also produce a data sheet for longer documents or projects that outlines what technical information I may require another time. The data sheet includes font types, sizes, colours for diagrams, special formatting used, tab settings, margin sizes, types of borders, location of graphics I used, ? This is particularly a good idea if you plan writing a sequel to the material and is also much easier than going back to the original document to get the information. I store this information with the finished document in the same folder for easier reference. Something to think about!
I usually read the draft document after I've printed it and carry it around with me for several days or weeks. Any opportunity I have to read it I can do so and make changes or add ideas. This is also a way to subconsciously be working on the document just by reminding myself it exists every time I look at it. The subconscious does good work! Make sure you jot down what the subconscious tells you, though, because this part of the brain isn't too good at memory! I have a theory that you should only try to remember those things that are absolutely essential. Everything else should be written down for reference. If something is important to remember that with continual or repeated use it will make its way to your permanent memory. I marvel at 'trivia' experts but can't figure out why they would keep so much stuff in their brain when so little of it is of much use. In any case, it is important that you leave the document alone for a while so you can move on to other things and return to it when the mood strikes or the deadline looms! Being ready to do the re-writing process is important. This necessitates something else in terms of planning. You can't leave things to the last minute. You must write early, let the ideas percolate in the brain, write, re-write and edit then publish well before it needs to be ready.
As soon as I know I must write something or have a deadline for completion of a project I immediately write out a skeleton of the finished product. You almost invariably have ideas come immediately to mind or have questions you need answered. Write something down. This may include a fanciful title and possible topics or chapter titles. This again facilitates the subconscious brain working on the project in the background of your busy day. I also jot down any ideas that may be worth exploring, any people who readily come to mind who could help me, and any past experiences I've had or material I'm aware of that would help with the finished project. These initial notes I find the most helpful of all. The real value comes when I finally get back to being serious about working on the project. I've got that 'kick-start'. I'm not starting with a blank slate but with something already written. A blank piece of paper or blank computer screen can be intimidating. It is so much easier to begin the writing with something already done.
I also tend to work in spurts. I have a long period of time when the writing stage is paramount in importance. I feel like writing. I don't want to work on the computer. Then I have a time when my brain just doesn't cooperate and the creative writing isn't coming. That's when I do the technical stuff or transcribe my scribbled jottings on to the computer monitor. I work hard for a few days, get bored or tired, leave it for a while then come back to it with enthusiasm. That's probably why I like to set an artificial targeted completion date well before the actual one. That gives me time to stop and start or start and stop whichever way you want to look at it!
Much of what I've said here isn't earth-shattering stuff. In fact, none of it is! But understanding how you operate best is important. Teaching others to understand how they operate is important too. There is no magic formula for doing work and accomplishing tasks. I work best in spurts. I do the thinking when I am ready to do it. I do the creative writing and jotting of ideas when I'm ready. I do the formal writing when my creative juices aren't flowing but I have some energy. I do the editing and re-writing when I've had plenty of time to leave the project for a while and return to it, sometimes several times, when my mind is fresh or when I've had input from others. It works for me.
What's your personal story about producing written work? I'd be interested in hearing it.
Know what works best for you and keep repeating it, refining it, massaging it? Perfection in your own mind! There is no better feeling than a job well done.