With yesterday’s launch of my new eBook, this question seems to come up the most. It is sometimes followed up with, “You know, I have always wanted to write a book. It would be about…” I don’t have a simple answer, but I do have some suggestions if you also aspire to write about something you are passionate about and want to share with the world.
In the beginning of this project, about one year ago, I did not intend on this becoming a book. I simply started reflecting about our school’s progress in embedding technology into instruction through writing. I started writing a “booklet” to share with staff, especially faculty who were new to our learning journey. Even before that, I often blogged about our practices here.
Once I realized that this booklet was becoming something bigger than anticipated, I submitted what I had written so far to a publisher, Powerful Learning Press. The editor, John Norton, liked what he saw and encouraged me to write more.
So what happened between then and now? To begin, I dedicated time to write. This meant selecting certain days and times where I would just sit down and write. I wasn’t worried too much about images to embed, grammar, or organization. My goal was to get my thoughts down on paper, digitally speaking.
What I found out about myself is that I have a hard time writing at home. Too many distractions? I don’t know, but I would go to certain establishments that specifically did not have wireless. This way I wasn’t tempted to check my Twitter feed or see what’s shaking online.
In addition to dedicating time to write, I also read a lot. Seems counterintuitive, right? How would I have time to read if I needed to write? The ideas suggested in my text did not come out of thin air. They are a series of connections I have made between different people’s perspectives. This includes books, articles, websites, tweets, blog posts. The information I gleaned from reading was in addition to the in-person and online conversations I had with many experts on authentic literacy assessment.
Whether I was reading or writing, I also became better about identifying and utilizing writing emergencies. This is similar to “reading emergencies”, those unexpected downtimes for engaging in reading that Donalyn Miller promotes in her book Reading in the Wild. Writing emergencies would come up when taking the kids to swimming lessons, or when I might be waiting for an auto repair. I would pull out my laptop and write a few paragraphs during these lulls.
So where does one find the motivation to write and complete a book? Having a helpful and supportive community was essential for me during this process. My wife was very encouraging about taking time to go write. My editor and other beta readers provided needed feedback. Also, having loose deadlines was definitely motivating to “get after it”. This book had one author’s name on the cover, but there were many contributors.
Maybe the most important factor in finding time to write this book is that I was compelled to share what I now knew with others. Our work we were doing was unique and deserved to be promoted. I was constantly thinking about it. It was hard to “turn off” all that was happening. The only way to get these ideas out of my head was to document and share them. Some time spent away from family and friends was hard, yes, but I would like to think I was more present for them when I was done with writing for that day.
To learn how other writers who are also practicing educators develop their resources, check out two blog posts:
- Five Things Busy Teachers Need to Know About Writing a Book by Bill Ferriter
- I’m a Reader, Not a Writer by Donalyn Miller
Both their experiences and expertise far exceed mine.
So do you have an idea rattling around in your head? Is it all you think about? Would others benefit from learning from what you know and are able to do? Maybe it is time to share it in a more formal capacity. Please share in the comments where you are at in your thinking right now.