How to Write a Book

Lately I've seen a rash of "Easy Ways to Write a Business Book and Make a Killing" type posts on the various social media channels I frequent. You'd be right to be suspicious of anyone shilling those programs because the truth of the matter is that any book worth reading likely had a great deal of blood, sweat and tears poured into it. Scott Adams, he of Dilbert fame, offers a glimpse into his writing process and reveals how hard writing a book really is:

Part of the problem is that writing a book is the loneliest job in the world, and an immense amount of work. It's hard to get started on a project so daunting. My new book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, took two years to write. For most of that time, no one but me saw any part of it. My publisher and I have a long history, so he lets me run free after the general concept for the book is nailed down. I probably worked for 18 months without anyone else seeing a word of it…

For nearly two years I plugged away on a collection of ideas around my theme and I have to say that none of it worked until the next-to-last round of edits. With my layered writing process, success tends to be binary. The book is a lifeless bunch of ideas until the moment it isn't. As a writer, you hope that moment comes, but you can never know for sure. This is yet another case in which my natural inclination for optimism comes in handy. I tell myself I can smell a book before I can see it. I know it's in me; I just need to write until I find it. I'm not entirely sure if I am intuitive or irrational, or even if those things are different.

If you're planning to write a book, ask yourself if you are the type of person that can spend that much time completely alone, doing unpleasant work, while receiving nothing in the way of encouragement or positive feedback along the way. You won't even know if anyone will read your book when you're done. If you answered "Yes, I can do that," I recommend these steps:

He then goes on to detail the six major steps in his writing process and they are indeed daunting. As he points out, every writer has his own method but what the good ones have in common is that their methods all include a great deal of hard work.

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