LTS Editorial recently supported an author in writing a book from idea to final manuscript in four months — you can read all about it here.
There was a lot of planning and expertise (and late nights, and wine, and...you get the idea) that went into successfully writing a book in four months, but the biggest game changer for the project’s abbreviated timeline by far was the preexisting material the author brought to the table.
The author came to us with articles, notes, and even a previous draft of the book that we used to establish a baseline for his voice and to guide the strategy and concepting, which gave us the rock solid foundation we built the rest of the book on. Some of the material went unused, some things were reshaped into something entirely new, and some things were kept just as they were, but having some of his prior writing to work with and to inform our groundwork at the beginning made all the difference in the end.
See, the work an author puts into writing a book is rarely confined to the words they commit to the manuscript. Your plot outlines, rough drafts, and research notes all contribute to your book in a concrete way. And beyond that, anything you write — blogs, a journal, social media posts, fan fiction, poems, love letters — feeds into your overall body of work and your identity as a writer. Your collective portfolio is a testament to what you're capable of creating, and a representation of You, the Writer.
Whether or not you’ll be able to draw a straight line connecting any of that “extracurricular” writing and your final manuscript is uncertain, but you can trust that with every tweet, essay, and diary entry you create, you’re sharpening your abilities and honing your skills, and that will impact how at ease you feel working on a full-length book. So never shy away from writing whenever and whatever you feel called to, even if it’s not directly contributing to your magnum opus. It pays off to be comfortable with your craft, and the best way to do that is to write as often and as much as you can.
A writer never creates something from nothing. Your previous body of work gives your book a place to start.