My Writing Process: Working on a New Nonfiction Book

library-869061_1920A week ago, I got an e-mail from Red Line Editorial.  Would I like to write a book for a new Abdo series?  As always, my first response is “Yay! Someone wants me to work for them!  I’m going to get paid.  Hey, wait a minute.  What do they want me to write about?”

Why the subject is never my first thought remains a mystery, but it always takes me a moment to get there.  Truly, my process always follows set steps.

  1. Yay. They want me.
  2. Wait.  What will I be writing about?
  3. Sure. I can do that.
  4. Wait.  What do you want again?  What are the specifics?
  5. Cool. This is so do-able.  And I’m perfect for the job.
  6. I wonder what my library has on this.  There — books requested and journal articles saved.
  7. There’s so much information.  But I have to make sure that X, Y and Z make it into the book.
  8. Whoa. This is really complicated.  I’m not sure I can pull this off.
  9. Take more notes.  Take more notes!
  10. Ah, this is going to work after all.

Four Abdo titles sitting on my shelf, two more sets of author copies to arrive any day, and two more in production, but I go through these same 10 stages each and every time.  Where am I right now?  Step 8.  I’m writing for a series on racism and the thought of explaining microaggressions is freaking me out.  Why microaggressions vs everything else, I have no clue but I tend to panic about something pretty specific.

So far I have 18 pages of notes.  I need to skim through them and pull out the sources for my bibliography but I have about 13 more sources to read.  I have to admit that I love electronic sources such as PDFs.  Why?  As much as I love the feeling of a print book in my hands, when I research I copy and paste material directly into my notes.  I started doing this on book #2 because while writing book #1 (Ancient Maya), I got tired of going back to the orginal source to see exactly how the author had worded something.  It was a bother when I was writing my draft.  It was a huge bother when answering my editor’s questions. It is a lot easier to know that I have everything at my finger tips.

Ah, well.  Back to the reading.  6 of these sources are books so finishing up the research stage is going to take some time.