Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Nov 23, 2008
As we move into stage three, I first want to look back at my post titled How Do You Write from a couple of weeks ago. First, at that time I was asking about how people wrote their blogs, as far as it pertained to speed, length of posts, and frequency. I wanted it to be clear that this particular step is going to talk about something quite different, but if you want to go back and read that post, I won’t be mad at you.
First, let’s look at when you’ll write. Pretty much, you can write whenever you feel like writing, obviously. When I first started writing my book, I decided that I was going to write from Friday through Sunday as much as possible, because I needed time during the week to work on marketing my business. Sometimes I wrote in the evenings when the mood hit me, but mainly I wrote on the weekends. I felt that if I was going to progress that I had to schedule myself the time to write.
For some people, they like scheduling their time to write. Big time novelists write in different ways themselves. Some treat it just like a job, spending 8 hours a day writing or researching to write their books. Some writers will decide to write only two hours a day. Some people like waking very early in the morning and putting their time in before going about their day; some people like to have their days to themselves, then work at night.
When you decide to write isn’t as important as having a schedule for when you hope to write. You don’t have to stick to the schedule, of course, but it works out much better if you can. However, always be prepared for life to get in the way of things.
As a for instance, I started my book in late July of 2001. I pretty much kept to my schedule, and things were coming along pretty well. Then, out of the blue, we all know what happened on September 11, 2001. Living in the state of New York, I felt the pain of the day pretty much like most New Yorkers did, being about 5 hours from the event. For three days I did nothing but watch TV until I was able to finally pull myself away from it all. However, it pretty much took me two months after that before I would even come close to consider getting back to the book. I just couldn’t concentrate on it at that point, or anything else, which wasn’t good, but we all deal with shock in our own way.
What brought me back to my senses was learning that my dad had cancer. Earlier in the year he had gone on dialysis, and I had started my own business, and after 9/11 now I’m learning that my dad had cancer. I knew for the first time just how sick my dad was, and I wasn’t sure how long he would be with us. I decided then and there that I was going to finish my book as quickly as I could so that I could tell Dad that I’d written it, and hopefully he’d have the opportunity to read it, if possible.
So I redoubled my efforts, but I found that I was having some difficulties. Here is where I’m going to move into part two of this lesson, that being the how one writes. I’m a typing guy; lucky for me, when I feel like it, I can type close to 100 words a minute. Some people love typing on the computer, which is me. Some people still use old time typewriters. Some folks like hand writing everything. All of these are good, but there’s something you could think of doing that might help you get over the hump.
I found myself starting to get into some kind of rut, and that was driving me nuts. What I decided to do was head to the computer store and buy some voice recognition software. At the time, I purchased IBM’s Via Voice recognition software, which worked pretty well, although now I use Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, which is much better. You go through a training process where you read scripted writings and the program learns your voice, and then you’re good to go. No software is perfect because none of us speaks perfectly, but it’s pretty good, and all it leaves for you to do is go back and do some serious editing. There will never be any spelling mistakes, but that could make editing slightly difficult.
However, this allowed me to really push the rest of my book through. It obviously works better with nonfiction than fiction because it will never spell weird names properly, although you can train it to recognize some names, but it makes things go really nicely, no matter how fast you can type, because you can just talk and talk and have all these words down in your word processing program, and since you’d have to edit your book anyway, it’s easier to go back and only have to remove and retype what you need to. Anyway, I had many points that I wanted to get to as it regarded my book, and I hadn’t written a single thing for any of them other than what was on my outline. So, what I did was go to each point, speak a few paragraphs, just to get something down, then later on while I was editing, if I wanted to add more then I did, and I always wanted to write more. The voice recognition program was just what I needed to push through.
Of course, the final thing about how you’ll write is what conditions you want to surround yourself with. When I was deep into my writing I needed some type of sound in the background, so I’d put on music. It didn’t matter what type of music it was, because I pretty much blanked it out while I was writing anyway. This is opposed to what I do when I’m working from home and writing articles; in that case, I usually have the television on, with the sound down, because it makes me feel as though I’m in an environment where there’s other people around, and sometimes I need that for my sanity. Having a laptop makes life pretty good because sometimes I grab it and go to the library, or to Barnes and Noble if I want a cookie; I love their cookies! I know some people need absolute quiet, and that’s okay also; whatever makes you comfortable, that’s where you want to be.
And that’s the end of step three. At this point, all the upfront preparation topics have been covered, and now it’s time for you to write, figuratively speaking. Next time I’m going to talk about the editing process for your book; come back for more.