So I've gotten back to writing my book. It's actually a lot less like writing and a whole lot more like copy and pasting between different word files. That's because i'm not really at the "writing" stage but at the "I have to take everything i've already written and organize it into some kind-of-a-draft- that I can carve out a rough draft. Then I can re-write - then I can finally "write." I'm not sure how other people write, I'm still not really sure how I write yet either. (Obviously) I think that could be one of the more interesting aspects to my book and this blog - is that I don't really know what the heck I'm doing. It used to be that I didn't know what the fuck I was doing, but now I have progressed to "heck."
Since this blog is partly about my book and what that book is about I guess I should start posting about it. Maybe it will keep me on track and give some insight into the 'writing process.'
So far there have been two things I've noticed after getting back to this book in particular. One is that I actually started to implement what I've learned from past mistakes. In the last few years I've started and stopped dozens of times and each time I've gone to re-start I end up forgetting where I left off. I forget what file has what chapter or what I was supposed to do next - etc. etc. It can literally take hours if not days of reviewing everything just to get back to where I stopped. This can be a major stumbling block to your progress - not knowing what to do when you finally go to do it.
A very simple and extremely helpful solution is to write a note to yourself at the very top of each file you are working on. Kinda like a post-it note to the future. Write some notes about what you were doing, what you were planning on doing next, what files you are working with, and any information that you would need to know when you come back to write again. Even if you think you're going to work on it the next day - do it anyways. A day can turn into a week, and then a month - and you can literally save yourself hours of frustration and backtracking by writing a couple sentences.
"This word file has the contents to chapter 3 and needs to be edited and combined with chapter 4 from ___ word file. Put the stuff from your web site in section __ and don't forget to ___."Always date what you write and it can be extremely helpful if you title it, write a quick summary, and 'tag' what it is about. Then when you go back to it you can remember exactly what it is about by reading the title and short summary instead of having to re-read the entire thing. It also makes finding and sorting what you wrote a LOT easier since you can search for the keywords/ tags you use. You might forget what it was titled or when you wrote it but you can most likely remember some of the words that are associated with it. This is something helpful to do not only within a document but for file names - especially for photos.
-This is about the writing process, for a blog post. Book, edit, writing, chapter 3, - 2/28/2014 --- 11:34am
Anyways that is something I wish I would have done from the start and still struggle with even though I know it is so incredibly helpful. Today when I opened the folder to work on this book I was greeted with a note that I didn't even remember writing at the top of the word file that explained everything I had been working on, which files had what information and what to do next. I was like - wow, Thank you for that Derek, I am as impressed as I am surprised! Within 5 minutes I was completely caught up and remembered exactly where I was at 4 months ago! When I first sat down I had almost completely forgotten.
The second thing I've noticed while re-attempting to work on this book is probably the main reason that it's taken me so long to finish and why I avoid working on it. Besides being a daunting word count to tackle it's a random mess. It's like I took 5 rough drafts from 5 different years and ripped them up and threw them all together. So now I have to go back through all of it and then put it in some type of order, and then attempt to patch it together and re-write most of it. Literally thousands of pages of information and rough writings that span almost 10 years. Most of them say the same thing over and over but worded differently. It's ridiculous.
If I was to start a new book today from scratch the number one advice I would have for myself is to stay organized. I didn't even keep pictures for different chapters organized. It's mind boggling how frustrating it is. Sometimes I just want to find a picture of the Mona Lisa on my computer, and I don't know where I saved it! You would think that at some point in almost 8 years I would have come up with some type of organizational file structure. No.
BUT that is not the main reason for my procrastination - the main reason is not the disorganization it is the actual contents, the words that I wrote, and the memories associated with them. Since my book is partly autobiographical and i'm including "interjections" - a large portion of what I have written is personal and documents parts of my life that I do not want to remember. If they are things that I don't want to read and make me uncomfortable and embarrassed then I definitely am going to have hesitation in putting them on display for others. It's like reading journals from a dark and dumb time in your life. I don't want to read about how stupid I was, it makes me feel stupid. That has definitely been a reason that I have avoided working on my book in the past but I think i'm finally far enough away from it that I can re-visit it and feel that it is actually in the past. Before when I would read about my frustrations and problems they were still prevalent. I would end up thinking to myself "Nothing has changed, I have the same problems."
I could compare it to looking at before and after pictures of losing a lot of weight. If you're still closer to the before picture than the after picture - you really don't want to see or to show others those pictures. Once you are where you want to be and fit and proud - then those before pictures take on a different meaning. You don't try to hide them, you show them off and say "Look what I USED to look like!" look at how far I've come! If you are still in your "before picture" - you don't want to even see them let alone post them for others to see.
So now when I go back and read what I have written it feels like it is "before" and something I wrote, not something I am "writing." The problems and frustrations and doubts and questions I used to experience have been overcome and answered - not entirely but enough progress has been made that I am far enough away from the past that it isn't sticky.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect to that is thinking that someday in the future i'll look back on today and what i'm writing in the same way.