Different authors have different approaches to writing books. I thought I’d share my approach, which may not work for every writer, but nonetheless may have elements that do work. Since I write primarily non-fiction books, it should be kept in mind that I’m writing from that perspective. Nonetheless, I do think Fiction writers can get some ideas as well from how various writers write.
Before I even start writing a book, I put together a rough outline of the book and what topics will be covered. If you’re writing a fiction book you might outline what events will occur in the book. The outline is put together to provide some organization to your thoughts and create a structure through which you can begin to write the book. However the outline shouldn’t be treated as set in stone. It is a suggestion of what can be done with the book.
Next I start doing research on the book. Research can take anywhere from 6 months to a year, because I’m usually reading what other people have to say about the topic as well as related topics. In the case of Fiction writers, you might end up doing research on a setting or the history of an area or time period to help inspire you. As I read books, I create a bibliography. I also extract the specific quotes and cites I’ll be using in the book and put them into a notes file.
When I’m ready to write the book, I take the notes file and start placing specific quotes and cites into separate files that represent the chapters of the book. This makes it easier to write the book and integrate the relevant quotes into it. If you are writing fiction, you might place notes you’ve taken about places or eras you’ve researched into chapters that you think will feature information along those lines.
Then it’s time to write the book. I focus on writing a chapter at a time. I don’t think about the other chapters until I’ve written the one I’m working on and I keep chapter files distinct and separate until the entire book is written so I’m not distracted by previous content or an urge to rewrite what I’ve written. This keeps the revisions down to a minimum while I’m writing the first draft.
After the first draft is written I combine all the chapters into one file. I then revise that the entire book, going through and making appropriate changes where needed. After that’s done the book is shipped to an editor and revised upon getting the edits back.
This is my process of writing a book. What’s yours?