The best part about writing is that you learn something about yourself.
If it’s non-fiction, you also learn something about the subject you’re writing about. That has certainly been the case for me. My journey in writing has been as much about self-discovery as anything else.
In 2015, I took my family to a fancy Brazilian restaurant for dinner and proudly announced, “I’m close to finishing my first book.” I didn’t hit publish until five years later.
My first book in the series, Motorcycle Smarts, took me the longest to complete because I had to learn the pieces of a book and how to publish one—from front matter, back matter, font sizes (and types), book dimensions, inside margins, outside margins, and how to do book covers. With self-publishing, I had to do it mostly by myself.
I also made the mistake of following the advice of several books I read about writing books that suggested the best way to begin is to write everything you know in a crappy first draft and then edit it down later.
My first draft of Motorcycle Smarts was over 120,000 words. The problem with this approach is that you have to edit all those words—which takes longer than actually writing that many words. The final version of the book was about a third of that.
Motorcycle Dream Ride
I’ve always longed for someone to ask me which book was harder to write, but no one ever has. I’m not sure why. I think it’s a great question. I’m going to answer it anyway. While Motorcycle Smarts took me the longest to complete, Motorcycle Dream Ride was the hardest to write.
I wanted the book to be honest and interesting. I didn’t want it to sound like a diary of days. We did this. We did that. We turned left. We turned right. I also had to learn how to write dialogue that flowed. I wanted readers to feel like they were riding along with us. Many have said they did.
I also wanted it to be encouraging.
To be transparent, I also knew it was the only book in the series my wife would read. She’s a prolific reader. Her approval mattered.
But the biggest reason Motorcycle Dream Ride was the most difficult book to write is that I didn’t want the other half of the ride, Mike, to be disappointed with my words. He never put pressure on me to write it—he’s not that kind of friend—but a crapy book that he was a part of felt like more responsibility.
If you’ve read Motorcycle Dream Ride, you know that I coerced him into adding his perspective at several points throughout the book. I’m thankful that he did. I think it made it more interesting.
Just so you know, when I asked Mike if he wanted to read the book before I published it, he said, “Nope. I trust you.” I knew that would be his response. Now you know why I had to get it right—and why he’s my best friend.
On a side note, Mike didn’t ask for any royalties for his words in the book, but at lunch several years after I published it, he said,
“Dave, if the book ever goes to the big screen, I want Ryan Reynolds to play me.”
I told him I didn’t see that happening but would see what I could do if it did.
Motorcycle Hacks was my third and likely final book about motorcycles. I had a stack of notes that never made it into Motorcycle Smarts that I wanted to publish. This book was my attempt to finish what I had started.
My goal in this book was to make each chapter short for the reader to easily digest—a Chicken for the Soup for the Soul sort of book.
It’s the longest book in the series, and I’m happy with how it turned out—even though one reviewer on Amazon hated it. His review is extremely thorough and worth reading. See below for more thoughts about bad reviews.
Another piece of all this is that I wanted all three books to be available in audiobook because I wanted riders who prefer to listen to have access.
This was even more important because few, if any, of the most popular motorcycle skills books are available in audiobook format. In fact, many of the most popular old-school motorcycle mega books aren’t available in Kindle format either.
It was always my goal to have all three of my books available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook format—and they are.
On a side note, after doing three audiobooks (plus one redo), I understand why authors don’t do them. They’re expensive to produce and difficult to get approved. That’s one reason I hired professionals to do the heavy lifting of recording them. But even with that, a lot has to be done to get them through the final stages of production.
One of the best parts of writing is taking a chapter of crapy words and editing them into something good. The worst part of writing is that readers can, and will, say your words are crapy.
If I’m honest, my first book took me longer to write because I was afraid that people would leave negative reviews. While that has certainly happened, it hasn’t happened very often.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I used to let one bad review destroy my entire week. Over time, this has changed. Now, a good review that says my words helped affects me more than a bad review that says my stuff is garbage. Fear also explains why I hired four editors for my first book over the decade it took me to complete it.
I knew I would never be a New York Times Best-Selling author writing books about motorcycles. But that was never my goal. I wanted to explain motorcycles in a way that I had never seen done before in all my research.
I was in a mastermind group for writers a couple of years back, and the best-selling author who led it said something that has stuck with me ever since.
“The kind of work that doesn’t deserve criticism doesn’t deserve praise.”
He was right. Say something soft, and everyone will agree with you—and yawn when you look away. Write an article on how loud pipes save lives is a big fat myth, or that a Hayabusa isn’t a great first motorcycle, and you’ll get all kinds of hate. Trust me, I know.
Writing the Motorcycle Smarts book series has been a calling of sorts. When I still had kids in the house and worked full-time, I would get up at 3:30 a.m. and drive to an office I rented so I could write before my real life began.
I don’t regret a single moment.
P.S. If you need help writing your book, contact me. I’d love to help.
You can also find David on LinkedIn, where he mostly writes about space.