In March of 2021, I was approached on LinkedIn by a publisher. They asked if I would like to write a book - the subject? Gatbsy.js. Being an author was something that immediately excited me. I never saw myself as the kind of person who would have the patience to write a book, but I like a challenge. Nine months and two hundred and twenty-five pages later, the book is complete! You can check it out here if you are interested.
It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, and I now have a newfound appreciation for authors. Here are my key takeaways from my experience.
A good plan is vital.
One of the first documents I had to produce for the book was an outline. In this outline, I had to split my desired content into chapters with descriptions, split those chapters into headings, and work out learning objectives for the reader. There is nothing worse than looking at a blank page and not having any direction. Instead of looking at a blank document when starting a chapter, I would populate it with the headings from the outline. These headings gave me a far more precise objective of where I needed to get to within each chapter and helped the content flow between sections. This strategy is something that I will be using even outside of long-form writing. Even a quick blog post can benefit from a small plan or outline. Hopefully, you can see the difference in the quality of my content.
Don't compromise on downtime.
I was writing this book while holding a full-time job. My initial thought was to use the weekends to write the book. It turns out that this negatively impacted my performance across all my work as I was constantly tired, and I had not had some dedicated time to recharge my batteries. Not to mention my partner, who I think felt neglected at times.
Get into a routine and stick to it.
When approaching a difficult task, routine is everything. Particularly during the summer months, I didn't want to spend more time at my desk in the evenings. I started getting up an hour or two earlier than usual and used this newfound time to write the book. While it was hard at first, repeatedly sticking to this schedule, I found time I never knew I had. It also meant that I felt more awake when I got to my work day instead of just rolling out of bed at 5 to 9.