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How I’m Writing This Book

I have been asked about how I am actually writing my book just now.   Here are some reflections. One of the things you figure out pretty quickly when writing a book is that it never goes as planned.   Things (usually) take longer than you thought they would; or they (rarely) go faster.  For most authors, the structure of the book changes as they start writing it, and they realize that they really have to say more about this and they really probably should say less about that.   They realize that, contrary to what they thought, they need to devote an entire chapter to something that they had planned to cover in a few paragraphs.   Key (verbal) illustrations that they planned to use don’t actually work that well.  And they come up with new ideas in the process of writing. Different authors have remarkably different approaches to writing.   My wife Sarah and I are about as different as they come.  In large measure, I think, that’s because our brains work so differently. Sarah is drop-dead brilliant.   [...]

How I Actually Write

I can now explain how I actually go about writing a trade book (how I do it with a scholarly book is a bit different, mainly because it is a much slower and laborious process).   As I’ve indicated, before I start writing at *all*, I have already read everything that I have needed to read (nothing still left!  Otherwise it’s a disaster), taken notes on everything, reviewed my notes assiduously, and made detailed and lengthy outlines of each chapter.   Then I’m ready to go. The writing of the book itself is the only anxiety-producing, tense, emotionally difficult point of the entire process.  I feel no nervousness or anxiety or dread in any of the other stages of the work – only in the writing.  Moreover, this is far and away the most intense point of the process, where I completely go into a zone and live in an alternative universe. Different people have different views of how to write.   Some scholars prefer to write slowly, carefully crafting every sentence, being sure that one sentence is [...]

2020-04-03T16:34:54-04:00September 11th, 2014|Bart’s Biography, Book Discussions|

How I Begin to Write

OK, I’m back from my tangent.   This thread is about how I go about writing a trade book.   So far I’ve discussed how I decide what to write on, how I imagine communicating with a popular audience about it, how I know where to begin reading, how I go about acquiring bibliography once I start, and how I try to read everything of relevance and take notes on it all.   Now I can get to the writing process itself. For years I used to tell my graduate students what, in my opinion, was the best way to go about writing a book (when they were starting to work on their dissertations).   To my knowledge, none of them ever took my advice.   So I quit giving it.  Not so much because I was disappointed but because I realized that everyone works differently.  Then I met my now-wife Sarah and realized that some people work *completely* differently. Sarah could never do what I do (I’ll explain what that is in a moment).  Her mind doesn’t work like [...]

2017-12-14T22:37:08-05:00September 10th, 2014|Bart’s Biography, Book Discussions|
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