I read @brandonwilson's post on writing and publishing a book, and thought I'd share my own experience writing a book in 2 weeks, in the hope it's useful for aspiring authors here (and, Brandon, this is your 6th Tap, after @keni's in the comments).
Tip #1: Writing consists of several steps. Split them and focus only on the step you're on
I consider the writing process to consist of the following steps:
- Drafting (Writing)
We tend to worry about next steps, which distracts from the current step (I wonder how I'm going to publish the book? Write the book first, then worry about publishing!). Granted, you do need to plan ahead of time, and you can do things in parallel, but if you're getting stuck, it's usually worries about upcoming steps that you can ignore (for now).
Tip #2: Write about what you already know
I recently read the advice that you should write about new topics because it will stretch you. Writing about what you already know is going to stretch you enough. There's no need for more stretching, and the process of writing a book will probably involve new skills to develop beyond learning about a new topic, so you're already stretching yourself.
Writing about what you already know makes Research and Writing a lot easier: you may be able to skip the Research step entirely and Writing involves relying on your subconscious (more on that in a bit). Topics your subconscious is already familiar with are much easier to write about.
Tip #3: "Write drunk, edit sober"
Writing isn't entirely a conscious effort. You might be aware of the words as you write them down, but the words that surface are doing so as a result of subconscious effort.
Don't get in the way of your subconscious. Let it do its work. Don't judge, scrutinize, or "fix" the words as they come out. You'll be getting in your own way. Instead, let the words flow freely. You'll get a chance to edit later (and remind yourself of that: writing and editing are two separate steps. Keep them separate).
Tip #4: DON'T SKIP THE OUTLINE!
I wrote the book in 2 weeks, but I started off with an outline. An outline acts as guardrails for your brain. It helps guide your thoughts in the direction you want to take your book (and your readers). Without an outline you will likely produce sloppy work that's hard for readers to keep up with and for you to edit/improve later on.
The most challenging part for me is outlining, and I'll offer a tip to help you overcome this challenge.
Tip #5: Scope and slash
At the start of the 2 weeks I had the book outline, with notes under each section of the book. That was the scope I was planning to stick to. But as I was writing out the book I kept asking myself: Is this point really necessary or can I communicate it somewhere else?
That was me slashing the existing scope. You will probably set a target that's unnecessarily ambitious for your book project, and it will delay your launch, require more effort, and deprive your potential readers of reading your book sooner rather than later. Remember: every point and section you add to the book adds to the overall complexity of the structure. Slash liberally as long as the overall product is super valuable (and it will be, even with all the slashing).
Tip #6: Write a collection of essays, not a book
I got this tip from Scott Berkun when I was struggling to write a book. I had a lot of experience blogging, but overcomplicated the book structure/outline. A collection of essays may have a sequence (or not), but it remains valuable.
Plot twist: Brandon has already written a book on this site. Maybe it's not the book he wants to write, but the process can be the same: a collection of essays.
Tip #7: Set a publishing date (Aim for launch, not just writing)
I made the mistake of setting my target on writing the book, not publishing it. And while it took me 2 weeks to actually write the book, it's taken me over 2 years to actually edit and publish (that's because I'm putting it off, and I didn't have a reason compelling enough to publish).
Don't aim to just write, but to follow the process through, entirely.
Look to publish, promote, discuss your book with others, and celebrate the fact you're a published author. THAT'S the end target, not just the writing of the book.
Good luck, Brandon, and all you aspiring authors in here!
UPDATE (18 Aug 2019): I published my e-book! I realized I was getting in my own way of publishing, and I didn't have any reason to delay publishing further. And there you have it: Done with Grace is now available on Gumroad.