Book Writing Advice For Nerds

Writing a book is hard. Being a geek doesn't make it easier, but it does help you analyse and maybe use better universal writing tools and even plan on highly variable output. Blogger and engineering manager Rands explains through his own book stories.

Rands finished (as Michale Lopp) Managing Humans and is finishing up Being Geek, and has some hard-won lessons to share from both. He writes honestly and accessibly about getting started, developing your pitch, the very fine-tuned details of his writing environment (and why you shouldn't similarly obsess), and how to prepare for the inevitable fact of entire weeks where nothing gets done, but also days where you just crank and crank.

In that vein, he gives a hearty endorsement of sync-anywhere service Dropbox as a must-have writer's tool:

Given that you can't predict your writing mood, you need to have the entirety of your book at your fingers regardless of where you are on planet Earth. Better yet, I'd prefer if you had every single version of your chapters at your disposal.

This used to be a daunting requirement before Dropbox. Not only can you now have every single word you've written available on any computer on seemingly any platform, you also have access to every saved version as well.

As I've written before, the magic of Dropbox is that once you've started dumping chapters into your folder, you simply forget about it. You forget that your writing is seamlessly copied to all of your computers. You forget about that chapter you had to rewrite after accidentally deleting it from your USB thumb drive. Once again, you have a tool that eliminates distracting barriers.

In my own experience, Dropbox has been essential for keeping images and screenshots together — especially with the built-in version history. As for text, Google Docs is another option, it would seem, now that its sharing and privacy controls are a bit more fine-tuned.

Have you finished a book or just a very long tech document that made you feel like you won a battle? How exactly did you come out victorious?

How to Write a Book [Rands In Repose]


Comments

    Maybe use something like LaTeX its what the scientific community uses to write and publish papers. Springer a big publisher of scientific books even says they use it on one of the first few pages.

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