Rhythm and Reason


I should tell you that I am on vacation this week from my editorial job (not my writing job), and this always brings out the more philosophical side of myself.     

The last post was about compiling the research for your book. Once you have built a solid enough of a foundation, it is of course time to start (or continue) to write the book.  Depending upon a whole host of factors, this could be the best— or the worst of times for you.

Since I work with so many super-intelligent, first time writers, I will assume, as usual, that most of you fall into that category.  Since the first book is always the hardest to churn out, appealing to this group makes perfect sense. And for those of you that have written that first book, you can attest to the extent of the pain and challenge.

Some years back, after 20 years editing everybody else’s books, I decided that I had what it took to become a writer. I was wrong.  I didn’t have the rhythm and I didn’t have the reason. I would write at all hours of the day and night, and in different places, including my local library. I did not even have a solid outline to follow.   

And I didn’t have the one thing that transforms writers into authors: a deadline. Not some kind of self-imposed, New Year’s resolution-soft-deadline. But one that sits squarely on a publishing contract so that there are honest-to-goodness consequences to missing it.   

My learning process, like yours, was a personal one. I learned that editing even the most mangled prose did not qualify me to write a book.  The blank page, especially a book page, is a different animal than a page full of run-on sentences.  Nor is the magazine writer or blogger automatically a book author. The only way to become an authentic writer of business books is to write one. And a successful one at that. For what good is it to write a book that nobody reads?  Wait…I take that back. Writing a book can be enormously helpful to a budding author, even if only the person’s mother and best friend read the thing. But I am getting a bit off topic. 

First you have to find your own rhythm. Are you a 5 a.m. writer—like me— who works best in the living room with a PC on his lap? Or do you do your best work writing on airplanes? (I have one writer who swears by the 33,000 feet writing method).  Or can you write at all times—whenever you get a free moment—and have everything turn out all right? I am a combination writer.

I am definitely the 5 a.m. guy but can also do some at night and at all “free” hours on the weekends (remember I have twin four -year-old boys). I certainly didn’t start there. I grew into that writer. First I gained the discipline. I never missed a day of writing, even if it was just a few paragraphs. I never missed a deadline—no matter how aggressive—and I never missed a day of work because of my writing.   

As I work on book #7, I now have the rhythm and the reason. You can get it, too.  Much of it comes down to how badly you want it, what you are willing to sacrifice to get it, and the level of support you’ll get from the people around you. I am a lucky soul. My family is squarely behind me. My wife, Nancy, reads every blog post before it goes out, and always helps me to find the time and the place to write (bless her soul). When you have kids with unlimited amounts of energy, it helps to write “where they ain’t.” Finding that place is easier said than done.


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