Wednesday, January 03, 2007

So You Want To Write A Book? Lesson 5

Happy 2007! I hope you had a wonderful holiday break and are ready to go on your book project.
By now, you've either figured out that I'm a big proponent of Eric Maisel's The Art of the Book Proposal: From Finished Idea to Finished Proposal. If you've read any of Maisel's book, you know that the biggest step toward writing a book proposal that sells is your thought process.

Many writers believe that they should just write and not really think about what they're writing and that's the best way to begin. Maisel begs to differ. He believes that thinking carefully about what you’re attempting to write is the best approach.

Today, we're going dispel some false notions we writers have about the fear of thinking (which most people call the fear of writing or writer’s block) that will hopefully start the new year off right.

Maisel writes in his book that "the first days and weeks of the process may make you feel very uncomfortable as, instead of writing your nonfiction book, you force yourself to think about your book." Writing is hard enough; thinking about what you're writing is even harder.

And often, if you read interviews of other published writers, you hear of so many writers who simply say that they sit down and start writing, with no mention of their intricate thought processes at all.

Maisel replies that "writers who are in the habit of thinking about their books do not notice that they are thinking about their books, in part because much of that thinking goes on when they are sleeping or resting or doing other things. They attack the problems their book presents them with, they think hard and long about those problems (sometimes for years), and then when they finally solve those problems they arrive at the experience that is often presented as 'taking dictation.' But they don't report the thinking part, maybe because it sounds unseemly to have sweated, maybe because they have forgotten or never consciously realized that they were doing it, or maybe because they just feel liking pulling your leg about the writing process."

Nice, eh?

Maisel goes on, "There is another reason why some writers fail to report the thinking part. It is that they don't want to examine their own process that closely. If they did, they would recognize some hard truths about the books they attempted that didn't work. They would have to confront the fact that some of the books that they began, often the ones closest to their hearts, did not receive enough of their best thinking attention and consequently sputtered and failed. I have enough of these books in my own life to know exactly what I am talking about. I can think of two recent books that went all the way to a completed draft stage, and several more that peeked into the world as book proposals, that I refused to think hard enough about and that consequently weren't good enough.”

So, what's stopping you? Start those thought engines! Tomorrow we'll work forward from our work on titles.

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