Writing the book–before

Writing a book (at the beginning) looks awfully simple. Here are some tips for the writing process that will keep it from being simply awful.

  • Let your calls roll to voicemail! Kiss your family and social life good-bye for a while. Explain to your friends that you can’t make social commitments right now. Prepare as if you were going to be away on vacation for a month or two. Figure out what you will have taken care of by other people. Don’t make any commitments for the month before or after the scheduled handoff.
  • Make sure that you have adequate disk space on your computer to keep the entire project online at once including first drafts, sample documents, spreadsheets, supporting programs, and so on. Also make sure that the computer you have is adequate to the task. Is it in good repair? Do you need a 21″ monitor? A color laser printer? A second CD-ROM drive or a DVD burner? If you’re writing about software, make sure that the computer also has enough processing power to really run the program as opposed to limping along.
  • Find out where you can make good, cheap photocopies in the middle of the night. You’ll probably need to, sooner or later. Also look into buying one of the inexpensive all-in-one printer/fax/scanner/copier units with a document feeder.
  • Be prepared for all contingencies: computer loss or breakdown, unavailability of anything and everything, loss of manuscript or art originals. For example, I had a hard disk crash in the middle of writing my first book. Because I had been making daily (and sometimes hourly) backups of critical files, I only lost the six hours it took me to restore everything to my other hard disk. No writing was lost, and I finished the chapter on schedule. You might even consider getting a second computer to drive your printer with and to act as a backup system if your primary computer goes down.

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