I have a confession. I have been working on a book for the past two years. It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’m used to stories writing themselves, more or less.
I research a story idea, collect all the information, put it on 3×5 cards and then sit down and pound the keys. Poof! Eight-hundred words (more or less) and its done. I go on to something else.
Books don’t cooperate with that style of writing. They require thought, lots of planning and time. Lots and lots of time. I’m not sure I like the idea of writing books.
My current solution is this Blog. I’ve figured out that, if I write some columns for the next year or so, I just might come up with enough material for a book or two. I’m not making a conscious effort to write a book, so maybe I can sneak up it and write it by default.
I’ve had columnist friends write books this way and they turned out OK. I don’t know that they made much money, but at least the damned thing got written and published.
Maybe my problem is my feeling that some aspect of writing needs to be enjoyable. I’m sitting at my computer enjoying the green of the Evergreens outside my window. At the moment (mid-January in Seattle) it’s raining. As I write this column I can take a moment or two to absorb the calm and quiet outside my window.
When I tried writing the book, however, it became a chore and made me feel less warm and fuzzy.
Even when I got stuck in a television newsroom I managed to sneak over to a window and breathe in the scenery. It made running up against the deadlines less stressful, at least for a while.
Maybe the fact that a book has no deadline is part of the issue. I know how long it takes to write five hundred to eight hundred words. I don’t know how long it takes to write a 30,000-word book. Maybe by the end of this year I might have a clue.
I want to write an Evergreen-type book with techniques, processes and concepts that span the generations. My thinking is that there are business models that are similar, generation to generation. All that changes, for the most part, are the technologies and the expectations they create. Finding those consistent concepts will be one of the objectives for the rest of 2016.
Over the course of this year, I intend to write two hundred and fifty 500-word columns. That turns out to be something in the neighborhood of 125,000 words. I figure there might be a book or two in their somewhere.
Why all this effort? I am not the type to retire. I’ve tried it several times and it hasn’t worked. Getting up in the morning and looking forward to a challenge is essential for my mental and emotional health. I need to look forward to a challenge at the start of the day and look back at the day with a sense of accomplishment.
Fortunately, I am physically healthy. I walk at least an hour a day, motivated mainly by the desired to pet the neighborhood dogs and tease them into believing I have treats. I bring this up because writing, for the most part, is a sit-down job. I figure I can keep working on something as long as I can get to the computer and type.
Who knows, after this year, I might have three or four books in publication. I might even be able to make a living on their royalties.
I still have to write 500-words a day. If I keep at this, maybe I can take my daily walks on my fingertips if my legs give out.
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