I guess I am the 1st one to post here. Never written a book before. Lots of blogging though, both technical and non-technical. So, where do I start?
Howdy, all. I’m with Sanjeev - I’m a blogger & twitterer on technical subjects. I spent 10 years in the Tech Support Pit (and I have the mental scars to prove it), and now I’m moving into user experience design.
Let’s write something!
Like, maybe, some description of how PragProg intends to provide us with support and encouragement?
Hi Sanjeev, hi Will - welcome! So, where to start - good question. Start with your idea. Write some thoughts about what your idea is, and why it’s cool. Why should people get excited about your idea? Why should you? Get that enthusiasm down, focusing on your idea and its benefits.
OK, so when you do that - what next? Start expanding out from there. You could do a traditional outline, topic by topic, but that doesn’t always convey the flavor of those benefits you just wrote down. What we’ve been trying lately is the idea of a storyboard - a narrative of a paragraph or two that you write down about each chapter you plan to write. Write down what your plans are for that chapter, how that hooks into the chapter you’ll write next, and how it follows on the chapter you wrote before. Start building in those connections and move things around as needed so that you can see a flow between your big topics. Keep your topics for each chapter manageable - you’re looking for maybe 15-25 pages worth of material needed for each chapter.
And when you’ve done that - looked at the big picture of your big ideas, and broken them down into smaller chunks of chapters, then you can look at things chapter-by-chapter and start planning what topics you’ll cover in each chapter, and in what logical order. You don’t need to get too granular at this stage, because lots can change in the process of writing a book. But try to have a general idea of what you want to say, so that when you start writing that first chapter you know roughly where you’re heading.
That should get you started feeling your way through your ideas and getting them written down in that big-picture way. Expect things to change as you start writing - you’re just roughing in ideas at this stage.
Finally, and possibly most importantly - block out time to write every day. Just an hour or so will do, but make it a consistent time every day, whenever you know you can make yourself available for that hour - first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, after dinner - whatever time you can make room for daily in your schedule.
You might want to pick up a writing guide to start honing your skills; we recommend Stephen Wilbers’ Keys to Great Writing.
And the next step after you do all this? That’ll be the topic of our whole writing month starting Nov. 1 - writing every day, making progress section by section and chapter by chapter, until your book begins to take shape.
I’ve started on an outline already. The book’s topic: the Go language. So far, the outline is in the shape of a language guide — an overview, a few example, language features, and finally the tricky bits like goroutines, interfaces, and FFI. Perhaps that would be too dry; building an example application might be a better approach.
I commute to NYC every day, and am on the train for over an hour each way. Plenty of time for knocking out a page or two.