Book Building: Room by Room
Setting aside the issue of expertise, even mid-career academics have a hard time imagining how they could make the investment of time to write a textbook. But if you’ve been teaching the same course for a number of years and have begun to add your own twist to it, there is a possibility that you are in a good position to do so.
Cross Published on the NVivo Blog
The mental image I create when I write a book relates to a tip about writing I got from a colleague to take writing one small step at a time. When I tackle an article or a book the metaphor that comes to me is of constructing a house, one room at a time, sometimes one piece of furniture at a time.
Writing Tips Using the Visual Metaphor of House Building
Step 1: Select the site.
Establish an audience; determine if it is your home discipline or cross-disciplinary. Write with a specific person in mind.
Step 2: Lay the foundation.
For a textbook about research methods, accumulate a file of examples, linking them to a chapter. You may have several hundred references. Create a system with software like NVivo so that you can get your hands on the references you need quickly. Use keywords to pinpoint where the reference will be useful.
Step 3: Start framing the walls and creating rooms.
Create the big picture with a table of contents that you amend and amend and amend. Rehearse this over and over to etch the big picture in your mind. Carry it with you from place to place.
Step 4: Start putting furniture in the rooms.
Build the core argument for a chapter around an article you’ve written or something you have presented. Keep a notebook or create a system to record ideas as they come to you and to file them by chapter.
Step 5: Re-upholster the furniture or move it to another room.
All writers draft and redraft. No chapter is finished until it is revised in light of what you wrote in the later chapters.
Step 6: Invite some guests for a tour of your house.
Get feedback by using chapters as assigned reading in class.
Using the metaphor of book writing as like constructing a house, my tips are related to structuring your time and organizing your material so that will you be in a position to write a textbook in a few years.