The first step of any journey is always the most difficult. Writing UX books isn’t any different. It’s easy to make the decision to embark on a long writing project. Actually starting one is the tricky bit.
Some time ago, I made the choice to start my first book-length writing project, on niche UX specialties. Then, I strutted up to the edge of the Great White Abyss before pausing for some time. I kicked rocks and muttered about all the reasons why this was the absolute worst time to begin writing a book.
I have a 3-month old son that requires the usual amount of sleep sacrifice, which is “all the sleep.” I’m on a huge fitness push at the moment. This means sacrificing my lunch breaks to hit the gym while also limiting my calorie intake. The Rockies are on a playoff push, and Broncos season is starting.
I’m tired, sore, hungry, and distracted.
This will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
The First Steps
I’m working off of the premise that all writing projects are actually pretty similar. This applies even when writing UX books. In the interest of full disclosure, this is a good time to mention that this is not my first writing rodeo. I studied journalism in college. I worked as a sports writer for The Denver Daily News as well as the Denver Broncos. With the Broncos, I wrote for DenverBroncos.com and their “Gameday” magazine.
What many people don’t realize is that you can be successful in any writing project. The key is following a consistent, proven approach. There are literally thousands of guides to writing nonfiction books. While their approaches might vary, the basic advice is always the same.
1. Define your project. 2. Research your subject. 3. Plan & outline your writing with care. 4. Write, while sticking to your plan. 5. Edit and revise the ever-living crap out of your manuscript.
Currently, I’m sort of wandering between steps 1, 2, and 3.
This week, I brainstormed with the wonderful members of the UXMastery community. I gathered thoughts and feedback from the Twitterverse. This all helped define which UX niches have the most interest, and which I may have overlooked.
I’m also building a list of articles and books to read. This list will help get me up-to-speed on the various UX disciplines I plan on including in the book. The community at UXMastery has been brilliant in gathering resources. Ditto for my my friends on Twitter. To say that I have a lot of reading to do is an understatement.
The Outline – Writing UX Books With a Plan
Writing an outline for any writing project is the most useful start any project can have. It helps break a large project down into much smaller, easier-to-digest chunks. It makes the whole project seem way more manageable and organized.
Which is why it’s always the first major piece I start after defining a project.
For this large of the project, I actually have a few separate outlines. One will serve as a sort of master outline, covering the book as a whole. Another will serve as a template for each individual chapter. The introduction outline seeks to center the conversation around ethical UX. The summary outline will discuss the key takeaways.
The great Terry Pratchett once said “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” This is true of both manuscripts and outlines. I expect that my outline will change quite a bit as the project moves on.
The Coming Week
I have three goals this week.
I will narrow down the list of topic contenders to the most interesting and relevant. I will read as much as of my research materials as I can. I will firm up my master book outline.
The journey will be a long one. Already I can see that there is so much to do. It will be difficult. Writing UX books is no marshmallow challenge.
But I have taken the first step into the Great White Abyss, and I am confident.