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How the sausage is made: writing books via incremental revelation

I wrote this about two months ago, and it seems the time has come to post it.

In our modern lives, we are immersed in the idea that any idea worth hearing can be expressed in less than 255 characters, or in an eight second video.

Sometimes ideas of great worth can be expressed in such brief moments, but more often, ideas of significance require significant time to adequately convey.

There is worth in what others do to to obtain, refine, and share such ideas. But that contribution will always be limited to what they can do, since everyone is limited in time.

There is also great value in learning how to do this yourself.

To this end, I would like to share with you the process of how I write my books. I believe that this process is how we obtain and apply light, no matter what the task or the domain.

The books are primarily written very early in the morning and sometimes late at night. Each night, I spend the time just before bed reading the scriptures. Usually, this reading entails "fishing," where I will read through the scriptures in order, sometimes directed to specific places. As I read, I troll and wait for the Lord to speak to me. He does, many times in a day, every day. At night, and during the day, I have a pad of paper and a pen, and every time I have a question, or an idea, I write it down. Many times, the idea is related to what point a verse might illustrate. Many times, I see a place in one of the ten or so books I'm writing at a time where this verse might be applicable. 

Each morning, I get up early. I try to get to my computer as soon after waking as I can. I try to work on the current book I am focusing on. If I can't get traction there, or I am particularly tired and my brain isn't working well, I will process the stack of notes from the nightly reading. Sometimes, this goes relatively quickly. Most often, I will spend at least a good half hour on one entry on one note page. For instance, today I spent a while working on the "D&C 128:9" entry on the above sheet, and then moved onto other things. The rest will have to wait for another time.

Sometimes, the produce from this step goes right into a book. Often, I have information to write, but I don't know where it goes, so it goes to my catch-all notes file. That was the case with today's information from D&C 128:9.

The notes file is a big file. I try to reread the whole thing from time to time so I don't forget what's in there, but I probably get around to that about every 6 months. When I do, I spend about two weeks exporting everything into the most recent structure of the unwritten books. 

As far as the books go, they all start as a loose collection of ideas ranging from chapter-sized to section-sized to sentence-sized. They are usually very poorly organized at first, and the work often consists of rereading previous notes from up to years ago, and moving things around to fit the ever-evolving understanding of the structure of the books and the content of the ideas within. The screenshot below is from a book in typical condition for this phase. 

Not coincidentally, this book is on revelation, and the paragraph on this page states:

"The whispers come, in quiet moments, usually early in the morning, before you mind is full and weary from the day. They are given to us, springing into existence like a cardboard stick is given to a cotton candy maker. Our minds are like the cotton candy machine, where our choice to turn it on and spin the stick around in the machine causes otherwise negligible ideas to develop and coalesce into something substantial."

I don't know when this idea came to me; it was probably years ago. But in seeing it today, I knew very clearly that it was actually in the wrong place, and I moved it to another part of the book.

I usually have about 5 to 10 books open when I am working on them, and I jump back and forth. Rarely, I will settle into a particular section, and even more rarely, I will work on the same chapter until it is done. Sometimes, I will work exclusively or almost exclusively on one book for a stretch days or weeks, but this is rare because I have to interrupt whatever I'm doing to record and process any new information that I get. 

As I work through the books, the sections, chapters, and entire books reach the point where I do not get corrected as I read them. By corrected, I mean he will say: "You need to add a section about this." Or "that sentence is not quite right. Do better." Or "remember that time when..." and recall an experience I had so that I can extract from it a generally-applicable principle to publicly share. Or he will ask me a question. Or I will ask him a question, suddenly seeing something I had never thought about. The books continue getting hashed until they get to the point where they accurately reflect my understanding of everything God has taught me on the subject, they are written in the best way I know, and there are no additional pings of unanswered questions, additional information, or other lack. This usually takes several years per book, though some previous books moved much faster.

With some things in life, there are shorter and easier ways to get the same outcome. I am not sure there are shorter or easier ways to get the volume of information I get from God. There seems to be a price to be paid, which includes but goes far beyond what I have described here. I thoroughly believe that there are things that God wants to teach us that can't be received while we place limits on what we are willing to pay to obtain them. I expect that, like me, you will find that the more effort you put into seeking more knowledge from him, the more he will give you.

Who cares?

I believe that there are people who will be assisted in knowing what they can do to draw nearer to God by reading this post and applying the promptings they get in doing so.

I also know that saying private things so openly invites the criticism of people who cannot understand their value. The Lord shows me the hearts of those who read these things. I know that most people respond to things like this by incorrectly assuming that I would only write something like this for the same reasons they would. They are wrong.

There are some who see it for what it is. When I write things that expose very private matters, I am not doing it because I want to be seen. I would prefer to never be seen again. The only reason I share things is because God has shown me specific people who need these specific things--private, sacred things to me, and things for which many people will try to harm me for sharing--because they can get them in no other way. The only reason I put my name on them is because I believe there is power in having skin in the game.

treasure what God teaches me. I have paid a significant price for saying these things, and I expect to pay a greater price still, and to me, it is still the greatest bargain because of what they are worth to me personally, beyond anything they might do to benefit others.

I cannot see what I write as a product of my own work. To me, they are worth so much more than anything that I could ever produce. When I reread them, I do not hear my voice or see my thoughts or remember my part in the process. I simply hear the voice of God in the words, and feel his pleasure in the fact that they are available to anyone.

These words are not simply printed on a page, they resonate deeply in my spirit. The words are etched into my soul. To me, reading these pages is like seeing and touching the marks in the Lord's hands and feet. 

Words obtained and written by the power of the Holy Ghost make more plain his love and his goodness towards us by testifying of what is true, revealing things that were not previously known, and clarifying things previously complicated. Inasmuch as they accomplish this objective, the world will be judged by what they contain, because whenever God reveals truth, it comes with consequences.