I’ve started work on a new book project that I am hopeful will go to contract in the coming months. I love working on books– getting to spend a greater length of time with a subject matter, having time to let it unfold in your mind and creatively, having space and word count to work with, and putting together what might be a meaningful, helpful tool to someone else. I’ve been spending some time thinking about how I’d like this book to look, what the layout might be like because it’s a concept where the layout could add to the impact, and I’ve also been writing.
One of the first things that happens when I start organizing a book is that I have to get all the ideas that are swimming around in my head down on paper or I fear that they’ll evaporate over time. I use notecards for the brain dump— just jotting idea after idea on notecards so that I can then shuffle the concepts around to find order. I often use one of those clear plexiglass boxes to then pile the notecards into and when the project is really in the throws, I use my little red basket to house all its pieces– the notecards, colored pens, anything that inspires, the idea box, a notepad, etc. When I am ready for writing, all that’s left is the plexiglass box and its notecard contents. Then I usually divide the plexiglass box into already included, need to include sections and organize the concepts by chapter they should come up in, if appropriate.
Once my book box is organized and ready to go (and I am at a writing point), the box finds a spot on my desk (until then, it lives on the top of my bookshelves that sit behind me in my office) and at the end of each day, I plan what I am writing the next day and have those notecards of inspiration at the ready. Once I’ve included that concept how ever I would like to (and sometimes the notecards just say one word but I know where that one word is supposed to take me in my writing) in my writing, the notecard moves to the already included section of the plexiglass box. Sometimes I write notes on it like what day I wrote that part or where its included in the book if I need to go back and find it and sometimes I don’t.
Usually, when I am writing a book, I have a goal amount that I want to get written each day. When I was writing Hijas, my goal was a minimum of 5 pages a day (on weekdays). Sometimes, I wrote way more than 5 pages. Sometimes it was a struggle to get to five pages, but ALWAYS five pages was what I had to, at least, accomplish. I wrote Hijas in about 3 months which meant I had 12 weeks to get 10 chapters, an introduction, and a resource guide written. Right now, since I haven’t gone to contract on this book, I don’t have a set amount that I know I need to get done a day to make deadline. Instead, I decide by the week how much I think I can get done, given what else I have going on, and then divide that up based on what I have going on each day. It’s little bites of the work each day, enough to be very satisfying but not consuming yet since it is not a sure thing.