Ryan Bigg

Writing isn't all rainbows

19 Oct 2010

There, I said it and I'll say it again.

Writing isn't all rainbows.

What do I mean by this? Put simply: it's not an enjoyable process all of the time. It has its moments, both good and bad. Right now you may be able to tell I'm having a bad one. I should be writing Rails 3 in Action, but instead I'm writing this post.

As a famous author once said: "Writing is like taking a shit. Don't if you don't have to.". So I'm not writing tonight. I am simply not in the mood for it, and to be perfectly honest I am feeling a lot burned out tonight. I am human too.

Writing Rails 3 in Action is difficult. I have to stay on top of the gem changes (such as rspec and rails, which should now be stable) and know what is the "accepted best practice" of how to do something. I then have to explain that in exceptional detail so that people get it on their first read and know what I'm thinking at this point. If a reader gets lost, then I have failed.

I do most of my writing on the weekends, since I am working full time at GetUp. Chapter 8 took me almost a month to complete because it was a very complex chapter that had a lot going on all at once. I eventually re-wrote it and people have been saying it's much better. Relief. Chapter 10 took me a little over a week. Chapter 11 should be completed this weekend (its third weekend).

If you're thinking of writing a book ask yourself one question: What makes yours unique? I'm trying to make Rails 3 in Action unique by using Cucumber, RSpec, Rails and all the other gems we use to build a full-featured application throughout the entire book. I hope this is unique enough for the readers.

I'm not writing this for the money. Being honest, the advances I've been receiving wouldn't even fund my rent for the time it took to write the part I'm being paid for, let alone all the other fun things you have to pay for in life. There is no way I can live on just the money from the book advances, so I work. Working what is basically super-full-time takes its toll on a person after a while, and I get a little down.

However, when you work at a job where there's interesting challenges to solve and good people to work with, then that isn't as much of a drag as some would think. GetUp's like that, and I'm thankful for that. I can go home at the end of the day feeling "accomplished" and thinking "what can I accomplish on the book tonight?". Those kinds of nights I'll bash out a section or two. Tonight is not one of those nights, for reasons I won't go into right now.

I'm not writing the book for the money. I'm not writing it for the fame (got enough, thanks). I'm writing it because when a person tweets about it or posts to the forum and uses phrases like "awesome!" and "thanks for this, I really love what you've done!"...

That's the "rainbows" I live for. That's what I write for.

Thanks for your support so far. It makes nights like this all that more tolerable.

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