Tomas Heed

Writer • Musician • Entrepreneur

The art of writing a book – part 1

When I started writing my book, I had a lot of questions about how to do it. Those questions never really got answered. I remember I googled around a bit to find information about what to do, but I never found the proper help I was looking for.

That was a couple of years ago and I’ve soon finished writing my first book. I actually still don’t know how to write a book and I guess that’s why there is so little information about it online. I suspect that there are as many ways to write a book as there are writers.

Maybe this is a good time to describe the conception of my book. Perhaps it will help someone. Perhaps I will read this text myself twenty years from now and think: yes, that was how I did it. I’m not saying this is a guide of how to write a book, but I say that this is a guide of how I wrote my book.

 

The observant reader has already noticed that the title ends in “Part 1”. The reason for this is that my book is not yet published. To be correct, I should have named it How to write a script. I think I’m only allowed to call it a book after it’s printed and I get to turn its pages and smell it and enjoy it. Or you may belong to the ever growing crowd of people who are enjoying books on your tablet or phone? There the line between the finished book and the script is thinner. I don’t know how that works, but I suspect it’s more or less like a web page – when you find a mistake in the text, you can publish a new version of the book at any time. A printed book is a bit more definite. What is printed is printed. If the book sells out, I may change it ever so slightly for the second version, but until then it will contain the errors that are there.

This is the story of when I started writing my book.

Once upon a time … I think it was in the end of 2010. We had started an excercise competition on my job. The challange was to work out on as many days as possible during 45 days. As excercised counted “activity for at least 30 minutes that made you sweat a lot.” Someone noted that walking was also good for you and therefore we added a clause “or to walk at least 13,000 steps in a day.” After long discussions around the coffee table, we also added the text: “or riding”.

Thus to win this contest, I started walking to my work. I had around 5 kilometers one way, which resulted in just over one and a half hour walk every day.

 

eye q omega-3

eye q omega-3

I also recall that I had just started eating eye-q omega-3. I do not know if these pills affected me with more than just the placebo effect, but I still remember that I felt like I was thinking very clearly during my walks. I seem to remember that this was during the autumn and that the cool, clear weather and the red-brown leaves that thawed in the morning dew spread a nice autumn scent in the air while I was walking.

One of the mornings when I was on my way to work the idea of my book was born. The first thing that came to me was that it would be about two guys who had magical powers that were balanced and I think I put the working title Balance on it on that first day. In the days that followed, I created more and more of the plot. I came up with the idea that the book would start with one of the guys sitting in school, listening to wis watch to see if it was broken. I also came up with the idea that there would be an evil Mexican who would terrorize the other guy.

And of course the story needed a girl as well. The guys will rescue the girl. It felt rather old-fashioned that the girl would need to be rescued. But if they did, what would she be rescued from?

In the days that passed, more and more of the script started to come to me. I came up with a pretty good punch line, but I still wasn’t really clear on how the final battle would be, or why it would need to take place.

At about this time it started to get a bit difficult to keep all the threads together in my head. To stop me from forgetting anything, I went to the local bookstore and bought a notepad and a pen in a size that made it possible for me to always carry it around in my back pocket. I fell for one that looked like it was made out of muppet leather.

 

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The actual book where the book was formed. This will be worth a lot when I win the Nobel price.

Every now and then when I did my daily walks, I stopped for a while and wrote in my book. I think that many car drivers that went past me in those days were wondering about what I was doing.

What happened after that? I won the excercise competition. I quit my job. I started my own company and began working as an IT consultant. The time went by.

All the while, I carried the book with me inside of my head – well, not the orange notebook, but Balance – and I thought more and more about the story.

Then one day I decided that the time had come to tackle this seriously. In the summer of 2015, we spent a two week holiday in Spain with the family. Before we went there, I made a list of all the chapters that the book would contain. I bought another notebook – one with a little more space and the ability to reorder of the pages. In that book I wrote down the names of each of the chapters, every one on a blank sheet. I also put up sticky notes that pointed to pages of the main characters where I could write down their characteristics, hair color, eye color, favorite sayings and so on.

Every night of the holiday, I spent an hour writing down everything I wanted to say in the chapters. My wife probably grew a bit tired of me when I paced back and forth on the apartment’s balcony, thinking, but at least I managed to plan almost two chapters per day during the trip.

When we got back from Spain, I had taken time off work for another four weeks, a period that was completely commited to writing. I must say I really liked it. I liked it so much that I took my computer with me to the toilet when I had to go there, because I didn’t want to stop writing. I tried to write one chapter each day using my notes from the vacation and I think I reached that target almost every day.

The penultimate day of my four-week writing spree I turned to the page entitled “the Final Battle”. (Yes, it actually is called slutstriden in Swedish)

 

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Huh… Now what…?

All the pieces appearantly had not fallen into place yet. But, believe it or not, the following day – the last day of my vactaion – the book was completed. At the end of each day that I spent writing the book I stored it away on my network drive and so I have kept all the versions since day 1. The final version called “150828_2 – färdig.docx” (färdig = finished) has the revision number 89 with a total editing time of 132 hours and 57 minutes.

After the book was “finished” it was time to edit it. I have read through the book 4-5 times and each time I have made changes to it. The first time that I read it through I added or deleted long paragraphs, but the last time I just changed some typos and syntactical errors. All this work was done in parallel with “my real job,” and that’s why it has taken me such a long time to complete it. On the other hand, I think it’s good to get some distance to it all.

The version that I eventually sent to my professional reader had the version number 292 and an editing time of 270 hours and 58 minutes. I expect that I will be finished with the processing of the professional reader’s comments by next week, so by next Wednesday I will start to look around for a suitable publisher!

I suspect that this is when the real work begins …

8 Comments

  1. Jag ser fram emot att köpa och läsa din bok.

  2. Grymt! Skall bli spännande att följa detta!

  3. Snacka om att bygga upp hypen! 🙂
    Kan knappt vänta tills man får hålla i den och lukta på pappret och ta in dess episka historia om Black Vest och hans äventyr. Ser den kommande filmatiseringens slutscen så tydligt framför mig, där Black Vest, i solnedgångens motljus och dammet från den torra vägen, försvinner mot horisonten på sin hottade Yamaha DT 50. Eventuellt rökandes på en Marlboro Light och nynnandes på Bon Jovis Wanted Dead or Alive… im a cowboy, on a steal horse I ride… And Im wanted… dead or Alive! 🙂

  4. Patrik Nilsson

    2016-09-22 at 07:47

    Kul Tomas! Du får signa mitt ex sen 😉

  5. Kul att läsa hur den växte fram! Ska bli spännande att läsa!

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