How to Write a Book in 3 Weeks: This Plan Makes It Possible

How to Write a Book in 3 Weeks: This Plan Makes It Possible

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.

Why?

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:

  1. Set a timer for 10 minutes
  2. Take a pen and paper and answer the following question: What are ten key messages of my book? (These will be your chapters!)
  3. Once your 10 minutes is up, set the timer again for 10 minutes
  4. 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:

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?

Filed Under: Craft
Karan Bajaj

Featured resource

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45 comments

  • Ricky S. Fernandez says:

    Excellent tips. Thank you very much.

  • Thank you Razwana! I think your outline applies to nonfiction ebooks rather than novels. I have my own reason to write fiction. I want to make a social/political point and satire seems like the best method.

    I will probably have to tweak your plan. Maybe be doubling the days so it takes 6 weeks instead of three.

    My satire would probably do better as a long story/novelette/short novella than a full-length novel. Like Animal Farm perhaps. It only has a couple main characters and might be depressing if more than 25,000 words.

  • I’m working on a novella right now and plan to be finished in a month. But I have other things I’m working on— blogging, reorganizing my blog, writing poems, and assembling my next poetry book. I have a hard time focusing. Perhaps I should set aside some days for just the novella?

    • Hi Nissa – if the novella’s on your list of things you definitely want to get done, make a plan for it.

      I have a business, clients, blog, etc also. So when it came to writing the book, I prioritised it. I decided to stop client work for a short time so that I could get it done.

      There are times when, if something needs to get done, it isn’t a case of finding more time of trying to be productive.

      Sometimes we just have to put other things on hold until *this* thing gets done (this meaning your book!)

  • Tamara says:

    Excellent article! I’m applying the advice today. Thank you!

  • Knows better says:

    Puh-lease. Three weeks? I once went to a presentation where they said you could do it in a weekend. Posts like this are dfangerous because it convinces naive people that they can actually do it. In fact, this is similar to the weekend book writing presentation I saw.

    Want to write something of quality? Don’t try to force it into three weeks. Take the time you need. And ignore advice from people who clearly are writing to advertise their business.

    • My book was written within 3 weeks, and I decided to take this route because time constraints help me work better (and smarter). For those that work in a similar manner, posts like this give useful insights on how to structure the project.

      This solution definitely isn’t for everyone, and those that try and don’t complete the project shouldn’t be disheartened – this kind of approach doesn’t suit all writers.

      It’s the same for writing a book in a weekend. It isn’t for everyone – but it is for *some* people (for example, a blogger could take a series of already-written-posts on the same topic, do some research to add more data/detail to them, and write a 10,000 word book in a weekend. It’s tough, but not impossible).

      That’s the beauty of sites like this, isn’t it? They give us insight into the many different ways writers write, publish, handle their psychology, etc – and we have the luxury of reading, and taking what we wish into our lives.

    • Chris says:

      I think that calling this writing approach “dangerous” is a bit extreme. Sky diving, rock climbing, and driving excessively fast are all dangerous. Writing a book in three weeks is not for everyone, but it’s certainly not dangerous. It’s challenging. I’m sure you can adapt tips from the post to suit your own workflow and timeline. Many of us work great under the pressure of a deadline.

      Thank you Razwana for a helpful post. I’m looking forward to trying the 20 minute exercise today.

  • Tanya says:

    It would be very helpful if you were to give an example when you say list your 10 key messages and 3 out comes for each. This makes it your message clear for me and helps to implement my own ideas in this format. Hope this makes sense (:

    Could you please post an example? Kindly, Tanya

    • Hi Tanya. Here’s an example I created in theory alone (I’m not a vegan and am not qualified to teach people how to lose weight):

      Book title: How to lose weight on a vegan diet

      1. About the author
      2. Why vegan diets work
      – scientific evidence
      – stats on how many vegans live in the western world
      – countries where diets are mainly vegan (and why)
      3. What is a vegan diet
      – Main misconceptions
      – what foods are included and excluded
      4. Vegan recipes for main meals and snacks
      – breakfast
      – lunch and dinner
      – snacks
      5. Case studies of weight loss on the diet
      – case studies from both genders
      – case study with someone that has solve a medical issue
      – what you can learn from these case studies
      6. Social side of diet change
      – how to plan your week
      – saying no to non-vegan food at parties and events
      – beat cravings for non-vegan food during your daily life
      7. Psychological side of diet change
      – how to transition from non-vegan to vegan in a healthy way
      – how to deal with people questioning your decision
      – find support locally
      8. Vegan celebrities
      – case study 1 – how they handled the social side
      – case study 2 – how they handled the psychological side
      – case study 3 – how their body changed
      9. Vegan and exercise
      – how your metabolism and muscles will change
      – vegan food before and after workouts
      – fuel your body for tough and light workouts
      10. Worksheets and diet plans
      – Diet plan for 4 weeks (with kids)
      – Diet plan for 4 weeks (when working in a an office)
      – Worksheets to go with each chapter

      As you can see – there’s no particular order to the 10 messages, and some of them could be merged as chapters (like case studies) or create new chapters (the science behind going vegan).

      Does this help?

      • Tanya says:

        Thank you ? Yes, that makes more sense. It’s an intresting journey having the desire to write, but every time i think about it I feel stuck. Now I seem to be struggling with whether I should do a book about my life and my journey with a codependent parent and how I healed myself or a book on youth and teaching young people how to recognize the signs of codependece. I actually did this with my daughter who is now 15 and she has learned tons by noticing when others throw the ball at her – meaning there taking their own issues and projecting them onto other. My hope is to bring awareness to young people so the can focus on their gifts and not on the weight of other people’s balls. Just sharing (: Thanks again for your response I will use it as a guide. If you have any other comments/ideas please I would love for you to share (: The Best – Tanya

        • With deciding on the topic of your book – you have two very strong topics. My advice? Go with your gut.Go with what makes you the most emotional – it’s this that will keep you motivated to write the book.

  • Kyle Connor says:

    Hey Raz. Don’t you think 11 days is less for writing a complete book? It’s cutting too close and sometimes you just run out of ideas.

    • Hi Kyle – do you mean 21 days?

      For me, it worked. I constrained my ideas and focused on the one I had – to write a business book for coaches. I absolutely had more ideas to add to it while I was writing, and I still have ideas now! But I ignored them and kept focused.

      It wasn’t easy – far from it. I learned a lot from it, and decided to share my experience via this article.

  • Rose says:

    I got the link for your site in Amy Lynn Andrews’ “Useletter” today (https://amylynnandrews.com/useletter/). It was good timing because a few days ago I started writing content for an ebook. I tried your first 10 minute technique for the chapters and I couldn’t believe how quickly I got them done! Because it’s an ebook, I’ll probably go with less chapters. I noticed that a couple of them overlap, anyway. I’m now so much more motivated to keep going! I won’t necessarily try to complete it in three weeks but I can see how that can definitely be doable. Thank you!

  • ebooks2go says:

    Awesome post Razwana!! The tips to write a book in 3 weeks is really noteworthy and could be a handy one for the new indie authors and writers.

  • Shabnam Mahmood says:

    Hi Razwana,

    Similar to Tanya’s question, how do I translate the 10 ideas to fiction?

    Thanks!
    Shabnam

    • Hi Shabnam. The 20-minute technique is more for non-fiction than fiction.

      However, you can modify it for fiction like this:

      – First 5 minutes: Write main themes and messages of the book
      – Next 10 minutes: Outline the story set up, main events and ending
      – Final 5 minutes: List the major characters

      Play around with this – the main purpose is to restrain your time so you’re planning the book quickly, rather than spending days/weeks on planning.

      Does this help?

  • gipsika says:

    *thumbs up* Fabulous post, so encouraging! 🙂 It can certainly be done!

  • Emily says:

    THIS is so helpful! I have been sitting on a book idea for a year now and had no idea how to get moving on it. As I was reading this, I started seeing the book develop in my head. It won’t be a three week project, but I’ll just set different time goals, like maybe three months. Thank you Razwana! 🙂

  • Kivumbi Abed says:

    This artcle is 100% PERFECT

  • Chudi Uwandu says:

    Thank you for your inspiring and motivating article,Razwana. I am a Retired Civil Servant. I am 62years old. I have always wanted to write a novel or poems, but have always been stuck, stuck for time, by procrastination and perhaps lack of self confidence. When I write a good sentence, it tickles me, makes me laugh,then happy. Yet I always ask;can I ever string them together, to tickle others,make them laugh and happy, too? I have written some poems that have not been published. Your article is encouraging me to get into action. Thanks, again.
    By the way, would you mind if I sent you one of the poems to look at to assess if I could really step up? I am a Nigerian. I shall, indeed, be most fulfilled, if this interaction with you would help me achieve a life ambition, or is it late?
    Very sincere regards.

  • Kim says:

    As of yesterday, I had committed to writing a memoir about selling everything and moving to Alaska. I’m not starting tomorrow. I’m starting on August 1. I like the idea of a little lead time, during which I will do some outlining and read through my old journals to get some of my stories fresh in my mind. Thanks for this article. I especially liked the schedule of how long you spent on which activities during the writing of your book.

    • If it isn’t scheduled it won’t get done <– that's a mantra I live by when it comes to being productive.

      Put the time in your calendar and get to work, Kim – then come back and tell us about your experience here !

  • Lisa Kimrey says:

    Thank you for the process! I have already had success with the suggested 20-minute technique. Planning to do the 3-week process next month when my daughter heads back to school. I’m excited! Am I right to assume an 8 hour day? Thank you for your step by step post!

  • Amanda V. Ramos says:

    Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I can totally see myself doing this. When it comes to being disciplined or challenging myself I’m usually pretty good at it. Here lately I’ve been hit with the realization of I just don’t love what I do. I work where I work because I need to but my passion is in creative thinking and writing. I think I’ve finally heard that bell ring, you know, that “Ah-Ha!” moment. Indeed I have. May I ask one silly question? Is there a rule of thumb regarding the amount of words in your chapters?

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