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Writing Above The Fold

Around here, 2010 will forever be known as “the year of the book.” Just about this time last year, I received the incredible news that F&W Media, publishers of HOW Design Books, was interested in having me write Above the Fold. The book had been with Crescent Hill Books for over a year and I had almost given up on it.

I began writing in January. My daughter, Sarah, was just 3 months old at the time, and with my home office just steps away from where our nanny was caring for her. Writing during the day was out of the question. My solution was to get up between 4am and 5am to think, write and design in solitude. From January through August I kept this schedule, writing from 4am to 8am, then beginning the more chaotic part of my day.

Having never written a book before — in fact, having not written anything more substantial than an email since graduate school — starting was a real problem. I enlisted, as I often do, the help of Alex White. He solved my writer’s block with a fairly simple approach. He told me that writing about living on the moon, metaphorically, is very tempting in the sense that an author might think that’s what people want to hear about. The problem was, I don’t live on the moon, I live in a small house near the water in Norwalk, Connecticut. He told me to write about that. It’s sounds so simple, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. In essence, writing about what you know will always be more interesting to people than trying to be bigger than yourself. From that day forward, the words flowed.

For eight months I wrote and designed, dealing with all the insecurities that come with doing something for the first time and with being a creative professional in general. The result is something I’m truly proud of. I believe I’ve produced a different kind of book about Web design. This book doesn’t rely on timely samples to succeed. Instead this book is actually about the fundamentals of any design process, and it happens to be set in the context of the Web.

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