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How not to write a book

I was always fond of writing, even though I always considered myself more of a visual creative, being a designer. Still, for as long as my memory can reach in the past, I can clearly visualize myself writing something.

It was not a diary kind of thing, as kids mostly do – I always had some story I wanted to share. Or at least to get it out of my imagination, filling endless pages of blank paper. OK, I did start a diary once, one NSA would be proud of – I wanted it to remain a secret, so instead of writing in some other language, I wrote it in native Croatian, but with my own, made up alphabet.

Other times, it was more ordinary writing, like a fairy tale (6), hommage to my pet (12) or even a diplomatic letter at age of 11. I wrote to George W. Bush Sr., in English, a foreign language for me, protesting the discriminatory treatment of situation in Croatia compared with Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In pre-internet days sending something overseas was a brave and bold move, not everyone would have the will to push all way to the end – equivalent to hitting ‘send’ these days.

Desire to share the knowledge, even a very limited one, was born in 1996. At age of 16 I contemplated writing my first book, in a form of tutorial, sharing what I have learned reading the 400+ pages book on CGI programming in an easier to understand form that’d be more appealing to the masses.

That book didn’t get far, as I stopped writing it briefly after introductiory chapters, learning it will probably be impossible to find a publisher for such book in English language here, where I am. And pitching to international publishers for a book with, at that time, very narrow target audience was out of question. My authoring dreams were quickly shattered and forgotten.

After that, life happened, but I always had a constant itch to do something about it. The only thing that changed was the topic I wanted to share with the audience, but desire was surviving and constantly growing.

In the meantime, rules of the game have changed enormously, anyone can write and self-publish, no need to chase big publishers, begging for a chance. Today I was reminded again that 80% of people want to write a book, but less than 1% actually do it.

As I always wanted to be in that 1%, most recently I got an urge to write a book on logo design. Not the usual showcase kind of thing or theory on logo history and styles which everyone publishes, but a book that would be of value to designers, already established, as well as aspiring ones. With insider tips from the industry on finding inspiration, stopping the client chase and have them chase you, on the process and much, much more.

The initial outline consisted of 79 chapters across 10 regular and one bonus section. The foundations were laid at the end of summer 2012 and I started writing that autumn. Soon, I was often writing well over 1000 words a day, having big ideas and plans for it. But, something happened.

My everyday writing became so scarce I could barely remember where I left off. I still have rough outline for each of the chapters, but these weren’t much of a help once writing became rarer than once a week. The manuscript is 80% completed and it’s been that way for a long time, collecting digital dust. Timestamp says 22 August 2013, but I am sure last real content was written sometime in April 2013.

I would be fooling myself to say I didn’t see it coming – because I did. What I was missing is the feedback from others and lack of accountability. As I was just starting with a project way too big for beginner, I made a huge mistake writing it alone, in my hidden cabin of virtual forrests.

No matter how much we love something, if we are just starting with it, as social beings we need someone to be with us along the way. Someone who’ll hold us accountable, someone who cares about it and wants it completed as bad as we do. That’s where I failed and what taught me a lesson.

For that very reason, I am writing a blog post a day, with no matter what guarantee. I want to re-establish my writing habit, but this time with accountability shield set to ‘on’.

Thinking about it, should I have written this book in open, public mode? Sharing my daily progress, getting valuable input from the audience and being accountable at the same time – the book could’ve been completed, published and found useful by, hopefully, number of people.

Should I experiment writing it in publicly?

Luka Pensa
22 February 2014