I’m an author.
For writers who want to publish a book, the thought of uttering those words is a dream waiting to be explored.
But for many, it never transfers to reality.
For some, it’s a lack of time. Or you’re not clear on what you should write about.
For others, the discipline it takes to write a book eludes you.
What if I told you that you’re just three weeks away from having a finished manuscript in your possession?
That’s how long it took me to write mine. And in this post, I’ll share how I did it.
Start with why
Why do you want to write a book?
Like Simon Sinek repeats, your why is what drives you.
It’s what will motivate you when the last thing you want to do is write. And it’s what will keep you moving towards your goal when you’re about to give up.
So I’ll ask you again: Why do you want to write a book?
Is it as simple as introducing yourself as an author? Or does it go deeper than that?
For some, it’s about credibility with your target audience. For others it’s about marketing and brand growth.
For me, it was about showing my audience that my expertise goes beyond writing copy.
What’s your why?
Plan to write your book
Along with having smart writing tools available when you get down to writing, making a conscious plan for your project is vital — especially when you’ve restricted your delivery date to three weeks from today.
I didn’t take on any new clients, and I minimized my social activity. It was only three weeks, and I was on a mission!
I also told friends what I was doing. My business accountability partner knew my mission and helped keep me on track by sending me messages on random days asking how my progress was going. It pushed me to action when I was watching another episode of The Walking Dead!
You don’t need to write for three consecutive weeks like I did. You could pick one week per month for three months, and stick to that.
If you’re willing to block off three consecutive weeks, here’s the schedule I used:
Day 1-4: Planning, chapter outlines and research
Day 5-16: Writing
Day 17-19: Proofreading
Day 20-21: Revisions and final manuscript
Along with making a schedule, plan for the partners you’ll need, like proofreaders, contributors or interviewees. Schedule calls with them and get time on their calendars.
Planning these events not only prepares your partners for their commitments, but also helps you stick to your deadlines because they’re relying on you to deliver.
Use the 20-minute technique
Starting, by far, is the most difficult part of writing your book. Most people have little idea of what their book would be about, and put off starting until they find the one golden idea.
A friend taught me a 20-minute technique that I used on day one of my project. By the end of 20 minutes, I had an overview of the messages in my book and how I would outline my chapters.
It’s a simple technique that goes like this:
- Set a timer for 10 minutes
- Take a pen and paper and answer the following question: What are ten key messages of my book? (These will be your chapters!)
- Once your 10 minutes is up, set the timer again for 10 minutes
- For each of your key messages (chapters), write three key outcomes for each chapter
This exercise is incredibly simple and open, and allows you to explore exactly what the messages in your book will be.
It also draws on your gut instincts about your book. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, you already know what your book will be about.
This technique forces you to expand on your idea. Limiting this task to just 20 minutes forces you to make a decision about the direction of your book.
Don’t worry if your ideas aren’t refined. You can polish them later.
This technique is here purely to help you commit to your ideas on paper.
Turn commitment into discipline
Three weeks isn’t a long time to write a book, especially when it includes proofreading and creating the final draft.
This is when discipline comes into play.
A commitment like this can bring up many limiting actions — writer’s block, procrastination, and so on.
Luckily for you, The Write Life has plenty of resources to help you become more disciplined in your writing. Here are some my personal favorites:
- I don’t know what to write.
- I really don’t want to write right now.
- I have children — how will I find the time?
- Time is an issue — I can’t find it!
Now you know what to do, go forth and write!
Tell us: Have you been planning to write a book? What has held you back from getting it done?