Writing a book is a project. It has a beginning and an ending. The outcome is a unique book written by an author. These criteria complied with the Project Management Institute’s definition of a project.
When I decided to write a book on the joys of cycling in Putrajaya on 22/1/2021, that is the project charter that I had given to myself. Before I started writing I took about a week to consult and get advice from my writer friends. Then I did my book outline, scope to write on and the schedule with a target completion date. That is planning. As a project management consultant, I am applying my knowledge and experience in project management to writing my first book.
The writing project kick-off date was on 2/2/2021. I planned to complete my first draft by 31/5/2021. There was a delay of one week due to my health condition. Today, on 19/1/2022, almost a year later I got my first few copies as a test run by the printer. I plan to launch the book in February 2022.
I used google document to write this book. About half of the contents came from the blog that I had written since 2010. The new contents were written longhand as I can write faster. By the way, I am a two-finger typist. The final book after a few editings contains about 22,000 words with more than 200 photos of my cycling activities in Putrajaya. Book of this type is to inform and share nice photos and cycling experiences.
I was advised by my writer friend Dina Zaman to have the book outlines first before I begin to write my book. This refers to scope planning in my project management jargon. So I began by drawing a map of the city of Putrajaya where I went cycling and sight-seeing. Then I identified the various locations where I cycled with my friends and also noted the points of interest. On this map, I wrote short notes so that I can write about my cycling experience and how I felt about it. Over the last twelve years of cycling, I had taken thousands of photos. Thank God that I have archived the photos at my Flickr’s account since 2015. Finding and selecting the photos are really tough and take a lot of time and effort. By the way, by the time I completed my book writing, I have selected more than two hundred photos to be included in the book.
Using project management methodology, I use WBS-Work Breakdown Structure to break down the book into fifteen chapters. Each chapter has its own place, story, activity and photos. So I wrote chapter by chapter. At the same time, I also took some of my earlier blog writing to include in the relevant chapter.
To undertake this book project, I gave myself six months. I don’t have a strict schedule to write my book as I am also working as a Business Coach. I write whenever I can. Actually, I don’t want to push myself. I prefer to go with the flow at my own pace.
I have been a blogger for more than twenty years. After I write my piece, edit it once and post it. Writing a book is a different story. I discovered that my first draft is what I told myself to write. I have to edit a few times to improve my content and the way I want to convey it to my readers. I learn the hard way that writing a book is actually more on editing than writing.
Doing a book project is very different to my previous experience doing construction projects. In a construction project, I work with consultants, contractors and suppliers. The actual works are done by the workers at the site or in the factory. In my book project, I have to do everything except final book editing, book layout and design and printing. It is hard work.
Looking back, I have learned many lessons along the way. Now, I am working on my second book.