Mar 18, 2018

Reflecting on writing

I recently finished writing a new book - it finally checked in at about 45,000 words. I thought that I would write a post reflecting on the processes and effort that I had put into making something like this happen.

Why I started

I started writing the Hedge Fund book back in June 2011. It was one of the hardest things I ever did - clocking in to be at a total of about 75,000 words. I am extremely proud of the work that I did.

First, I realized that I had a good idea to write down. Secondly, I found out that the advertising tools provided by Amazon allowed for better monetization of my writing. The thought of being able to earn money was a huge motivator.

This book turned out to be about 45,000 words - much smaller than the hedge fund book. Over time I expect it to grow further and to have it eventually be a 60,000 word thing.

How I wrote

I used a writing tool called Scrivener. I had tried other tools but in the end came back to this classic piece. It has a lot of features but I liked that it lets you arrange documents around within its own system and using your own arrangement style.

I would outline a section by creating empty documents - attaching to them a basic idea (maybe a few sources too). You can mark whether or not an empty document needs to be addressed. Then over time, I attacked sections, filled them out, and edited them as needed. I read that George R R Martin, who wrote the Game of Thrones books, writes the same way. He has pieces, fills them out into ideas, and then finalizes them rapidly as he gets towards the end.

I wrote twice a day - as many days as I possibly could. Once in the morning before I started work and then once when I got home after work. Because the amount of time outside of work was limited, I took the time whenever I could.

Daily Progress

Scrivener provides a daily word count which has been invaluable in helping me keep myself disciplined. Take a look at the chart of my daily progress throughout the 45,000 words.

Word Chart

The most words that I ever wrote in a single session was 2,864. I broke 2,000 words a day 5 times - writing a total of 12,245 words throughout those 5 days. For two of those days, I was in a plane flying between Europe and Asia so that gave me an immense amount of time to write.

There were only 3 days in which I did not write anything - two of those days happened during a period when I was finishing things up so they do not count. Even during a corporate retreat and a long, protracted illness that caused lung issues for me - I was able to write at least 50 words.

My average over all days was about 830 a day.

What is next

Right now I am feeling a bit of a deceleration from this large project. I would like to get back into programming again - but without an idea to work towards I feel like there is nothing to motivate me.

I will have to spend some time resting and recharging before I feel ready to tackle another months-long project again.