I’ve always enjoyed puzzles.

I’m not talking about the kind you find in Words with Friends, Candy Crush, or any other disposable app.

I’m referring to real, tangible puzzles. You know, the good old-fashioned kind that brings families together for hours during the holidays?

For anyone who has completed a puzzle, we all know the first step is making sure you have all of the pieces necessary.

In much the same way, being a writer (in this day and age) is like putting a puzzle together — you need to create all of the pieces first (articles, blog posts, outlines) before you can put them all together into a finished book.

At least, this is the approach I’ve decided to take for my first book.

It wasn’t always like this.

When I first started writing almost three years ago, I simply wanted to write a book about the intersection of design, entrepreneurship, and education — three things I feel very passionate about.

I even joined a writing group at my local coworking center in order to create some accountability for myself. At the first meeting, one of the other members made a suggestion:

“Why don’t you try blogging first? You can create a body of work around the topics you want and then, eventually, turn them into a book.”

These two sentences completely changed my life.

Since that moment, I’ve been writing (almost) every day on Medium and publishing roughly 2–3 posts every week.

What started as one post discussing design, entrepreneurship, and education morphed into an ongoing blog about making ideas happen.

Roughly six months ago, I finally felt compelled to start my first book. Instead of my initial concept, I decided to follow the advice I received and drew from all of the posts I wrote over the past few years, all related to removing yourself as an obstacle while making your own ideas happen.

After I stumbled initially, I decided to create an outline to help guide me through the process. Instead of starting from scratch, I reviewed all of the articles I had written, identified 10 themes, and converted them into the 10 chapters of my book.

Next, I broke down each chapter into shorter sections that would be easier for me to write and the reader to read. I realized that since I used past writing themes to create chapters, each section could easily be written using a specific post for reference.

This is where things really started coming together.

Not only did I have a general outline — I had specific blog posts I could use to make every writing session easier. If you ask me, this is the main reason I’m over halfway finished with the book and still going strong.

Like a complex puzzle, a long-term writing project is always harder than you think. You will inevitably stumble across roadblocks.

Instead of blindly starting the puzzle, try creating the individual pieces and organizing them in a way that makes sense to you. You will thank yourself later.