At the end of October 2014, I accidentally ended up with a week off. Having felt guilty about not having written a book for a couple of months at this stage, I decided that would be my focus.
I gave myself seven days to finish my first draft. Why seven days?
First, I’d created a book planning system that I claimed would create a blueprint so detailed that my clients’ books would write themselves. Who better to put it to the test than me?
Second, I only had a week. After my week off, I had a ghost writing project and, although I’m pretty good at pumping out content, I didn’t think writing two books at once was realistic.
Third, I just had to get it done. I’d been feeling guilty about not having written a book and I knew that if I didn’t set myself a deadline, it wasn’t going to happen.
So how did I go?
On Day 1 I wrote 16,680 words.
On Day 2, I wrote another 11,270.
On Day 3, I wrote 6,102 words and realised that I was finished.
How did I do it? I cheated.
1. Create a blueprint
My go-to advice for anyone thinking about writing a book is to create a detailed plan before you start writing. One of the biggest mistakes new authors make is skipping this step (or, in some cases, thinking they have planned their book when they really haven’t).
Yes, most entrepreneurs have an idea for their book. Some even have a list of steps or topics they want to cover.
Isn’t that a plan?
Not even close.
The purpose of a plan is to guide every word you write. With a clear plan you never need to worry about writer’s block, stopping and starting or the process dragging on for months. With a clear plan, you should never have to come up with new ideas because they’re all laid out in front of you.
When it came to writing my book, the initial idea was based on my book blueprint workshops, the goal of which is to help entrepreneurs create this plan. From here I:
2. Recycle your existing content
If you have been in business for a few years, you probably have a whole slew of marketing content up your sleeve – brochures, flyers, blog posts, articles, interviews, case studies and more.
Now imagine if you put that content into your book… without having to write a word, you could already be thousands of words into your first draft.
Admittedly, not everything will fit, but a lot of it can be tweaked to support the points you make in your book.
In my case, once I’d created the high-level blueprint I described earlier, I then went through my old blog posts, booklets, brochures, sales pages and even client emails, copied the paragraphs that were relevant to my book and pasted them under the related points in the blueprint.
A discussion on different book types? It had already been written. How to write an introduction? I used a client email as a starting point.
After everything was pasted into my blueprint, I already had 10,000 words.
You see why I said I cheated? Yes, I wrote 34,000 words in three days, but most of the work was done before I actually sat down to write. I’d already done all of the thinking, research, brainstorming and organisation. All I needed to do was expand on what was there.
3. Make the time
While a blueprint is a great way to streamline your writing process, there is a catch. It only works if you make the time to write.
Personally, I prefer to create a solid chunk of time to work on big tasks – it’s why I typically write four or five blog posts at once and then schedule them in advance, and it’s why I only work on one client book at a time. It’s also why I’d struggled to get my book out until I found that extra week in my calendar.
However, taking a week (or a month) off life isn’t always realistic. So what can you do?
The principle is still the same – you need to make the time to write. I had one client who has two young children and was working in a corporate job and launching her content writing business at the same time as writing her book – she used her commute to and from the office to write. Another client also has young children, a full-time job and a business in the making – he would do research every night from 9pm to 11pm, and wake up at 4:30am for two hours of writing before the kids work up.
Even though it may take longer than three days, as long as you keep chipping away at it, you’ll write your book.
4. Raise the stakes
The final key is raising the stakes. It’s very easy to sit down at the computer and say you’re going to write only to get distracted by the day’s top headlines or what’s trending on YouTube. To ensure you follow through, it’s best to have some skin in the game.
While no one’s life will be on the line if you don’t write your book (at least, I hope not!), there are plenty of ways you can turn up the heat.
The first one is simply knowing your why. Why do you want to write a book? What will it help you achieve? How will it make you feel?
For me, writing a book was something I knew would benefit my business – after all, I’ve seen enough clients reap the rewards of getting published! On a deeper level, though, writing my book had been a psychological hurdle for me, and I knew that overcoming that would help me grow as an entrepreneur, a writer and a person. There was also the guilt I mentioned earlier – I’d been putting it off for so long that I was starting to feel ashamed. Ultimately, not writing a book became more comfortable than writing one.
The second is making yourself accountable. Is there someone you can use as an accountability buddy? If you know someone else who is writing a book, see if you can team up with them – you can check in every day or week with your word count, set up writing dates where you both commit to writing for an hour straight, and even give them permission to punish you in some way if you miss a target (I’ll leave punishment ideas to you…).
I jumped on Facebook to announce my seven-day writing challenge, and at the end of each day I’d tally my word count and post it for the world to see. Simply knowing that my goal was in the public eye helped keep me on track
The third way to raise the stakes is to create consequences if you don’t achieve your goal. Could you give something up if you don’t meet a daily writing target, like your favourite TV show or your morning latte? Or could you do something you really don’t want to do, like writing a cheque to someone you hate or singing in front of the office?
The big consequence for me was knowing that, if I didn’t write the book now, I might never write it.
And the final way to raise the stakes is to give yourself a reward – either little ones as you hit milestones along the way, or a big one at the end. Yes, holding a physical copy of your book in your hands is the most gratifying part of the experience (I just picked up my latest proofs yesterday), but adding something like a massage, an adrenaline adventure or a weekend away to the mix can be the cherry on top.
Get the blueprint
The end result of my three-day sprint was Book Blueprint: How any entrepreneur can write an awesome book – an award-winning book that has been picked up by Morgan James Publishing for international distribution.
The exciting part? It’s relaunching on June 13th!
Book Blueprint gives entrepreneurs and small business owners a step-by-step framework to write an awesome book – even if you’re not a writer. In this framework I cover:
By the end of the book you will have a foolproof blueprint – a skeleton that maps out your entire book, so that all you need to do to write it is fill in the gaps.
In other words, Book Blueprint is the key to writing a great book, fast.
Pre-order your copy today at grammarfactory.com/bookblueprint