Round 1 of the manuscript for my book is due in the next week, and I have been writing feverishly in order to hit the deadline.
The process has been very exciting, but also much more difficult than I anticipated. Communicating ideas normally comes easy to me, but I have often found feeling stuck in how I best want to convey the ideas that are being stirred inside of me.
There have been three stages that the book has gone through up to this point, each with their own unique joy and struggle:
Stage 1: The idea
This stage for me was the inception of the book project. The ideas for this book have been inside of me for over a decade. They were not nearly as crystallized as they are now, but I have been experimenting with them in both conversations and sermons for years now. Each time I would talk about it I would feel a deep sense of internal resonance, until the point finally came that I felt ready to try to write about them.
Stage 2: The framework
This was the most difficult stage for me. The ideas that I feel compelled to write about in this book are complex and multi-layered. Without strong discipline and lots of good editing/feedback, I will be in danger of trying to communicate too much in this book, and in the process lose any sense of crisp application or takeaway.
I made the mistake of starting to write individual chapters without having a real clear sense of the blueprint of the entire book. This is one of the reasons that I kept getting stuck. I am thanking God for my iPhone, because that helped me break the logjam. I took an endless number of walks this winter where I would audibly talk myself through the flow of the entire book. I would do version after version, moving chapters around or reformatting the content in my mind. I did this until I had mapped out every single chapter and had a 1-sentence summary for each (see the attached picture for one version of this mapping out process).
This is why it was so helpful to be able to do this on a phone — I would walk around my neighborhood for hours at a time, and in my olden days I used to transcribe my ideas into a microcassette recorder (can you believe that? I am getting old!) Now I transcribe them into my iPhone. That allows me to back up my voice notes on my computer, which is significant.
But even more importantly, now when I am walking around the neighborhood I don’t look nearly as strange! Even I have to admit that seeing someone walk around with a microcassette recorder is an odd sight. Now it looks like I am just talking on the phone! Can’t beat that =)
Stage 3: Writing
This is the stage that I have been in the last few months. Once I had the entire book mapped out, then I could start filling in the content of each chapter. It has been relieving to get to this stage, and I feel very excited about how it is all coming together.
It’s scary though too. Every time I re-read a chapter I’ve already written, I find myself making numerous edits and changes to it. Every time I do that, I find myself wondering, “If I am still making changes to it now, how many more will I want to make once the book is already done?” I am having the anxiety in advance of putting it into final print knowing that the ideas are still evolving in my mind. But, I know that every author struggles with this, so I just have to do my best to get them down in a way that can (hopefully) stand the test of time.
So, that’s where I’m at. Please say a prayer for me! Also, I still need lots of feedback, with some being immediate and some happening over the next couple of months.
I will write another entry tomorrow about what I need some immediate feedback. Until then…