How Not to Write a Book

Okay, hear me out: what if I wrote a book in public? And—what if—I wrote about the process of writing/designing/building it each week in a newsletter. I’d have no idea where I was going with it, or what the book could possibly be, and we’d all figure it out in public together. It would be the equivalent of a CSS-Tricks blog post except instead of learning how a website works under the hood, I’d write about all the complexities of writing and making a physical book.

Working title? How Not to Write a Book.

In the first edition I could tease out the subject, in the next I could plan out the chapters, in another I could bemoan the difficulty of writing something at this scale, the next after that I could interview book designers and writers that have made similar things. In another edition of this series I could brood about a book that I dislike for this one petty reason (it’s always the margins) or I could think through the design, walk through the troubles of InDesign or the web. I could write about the format of this proto-book, write about the history of graphic design in this field. Paper stock, color theory, typesetting, editing; the list is endless.

Would this be a paper object or another website? I have no idea. This project might spit out a novel, a Kindle book, a series of videos, a picture book...

It would be thrilling to figure all that out.

Multiple books might come out of this project or even no book at all. Maybe this series of newsletters/blog posts(?) would be a warning for future writers: do not write like this in public, beware this coastal route, because there lie dangers ahead.

And yet, perhaps something else—a book—might emerge.