How to write a book in 7 weeks (yes you can)
Books take a long time to write, no matter what anyone promises. Which may seem like a strange way to open a post that tells you that you can write a book in 7 weeks. However, let me ask you this when you think about writing a book what are you going to give your energy to? Getting it done or fretting about how you will?
Let’s decide that your energy is going to be on how can I make this happen?
7 weeks may not seem like a huge expanse of time, yet I am not asking you to consider writing a 120,000 epic novel. More that I am asking you to consider writing 30,000 to 40,000 word non-fiction book based on your story and message. In fact, I am asking you to consider planning your book and writing your first draft in 7 weeks or sooner – depending on how you tackle this project.
How you do it is all in the preparation. Like anything in life the better prepared you are, the more likely you are to get it done. Plus if you are like me and enjoy a challenge then this will speak to you.
There are so many reasons to write a book. It’s that eternal dance between desire, dreams, time and action. You may want to do this bold seemingly time-consuming thing, but when your mind monkeys get in the way desire and dreams may not be enough.
If you do not have a compelling enough reason, chances are this book will not get written.
So what might be some of your whys?
Build your personal brand
There is something rather gorgeous about holding your first book in your hands and smelling your words and message. It’s a funny old feeling when you see all of your blood, sweat and tears in a 6×9 thing that is not even half an inch thick. Alchemy has occurred, and your story, processes and purpose are there for all to see.
This book demonstrates that you are an expert, you can use it for coaching and consultancy, retreats, online courses and of course that delicious feeling that you will be seen as an expert.
Your legacy is your gift to family, friends, colleagues and the world. There are so many stories that are lost. Lost because the holder of the story thinks that no one will be interested or that they simply ran out of time.
My mum is on her fifth book. Each one she writes contains something about a family member. She writes to exorcise her stuff and to leave her legacy. I wonder when she is gone if her grandchildren will be interested in her tales. When they were little, they played stories and mum, and they wrote a little book. Some years later mum picked it up and turned into a tale called Georgina’s Magic Potion. As an artist, she painted her own illustrations. A friend of hers Mariano has been translating into Spanish, and my job will be to publish it. I cannot tell you how important it is to me that my mum has turned so many of our family stories into fiction. This is her legacy. She has no great notion that anyone outside of her family will pick them up or that they will be important in the larger scheme of the world and it’s problems. They have kept her happy and her brain dreaming up devilish dramas.
You too can leave a legacy, small or large it matters not, what matters is that you do.
We go through so much, learn so many lessons, gain so much wisdom from our experiences, and yet we often think that again who will be interested. Your truth might just help one other person who might support another and another.
You just want to
There is nothing wrong with wanting to write a book because you want to and you may find another reason emerging as you do.
Knowing how you will use it
A book has so many uses:-
- as a lead magnet which is a part of your marketing toolkit
- a process which can be used to clarify your thinking and your processes, so that you can better serve your clients
- the one thing that you use to design other products and services
- a product that demonstrates your knowledge, skills and experience
It is part of your overall suite of product and services, and sometimes it can feel like the hardest one to create. Despite this, it is worth it.
The how – the plan
Having an end to end book plan is another one of those things that can look a bit daunting. An extensive list of stuff to do is enough to make anyone head for the hills.
I used to have a partner who would say ‘what is the plan for today?’. It drove me insane. Why should there be a plan, why couldn’t we go with the flow and what was wrong with spontaneity?
What I have discovered about myself is that I like to have a plan, which I can tick things off. It gives me clarity. What I hate is having to follow it step by step. What I enjoy more and what makes me more productive is to know what the steps are and then intuitively do what I want.
There is not one size fits all, and there is not one way of planning. There is your way. With the control freak partner long gone, what I know is that when you own with honesty how you do things you will get your plan completed. And allowing others to plan in their way is a sign of respect. When I work with my clients, I need to know what their planning style is so that I can work out how to support them to get their plan completed.
What about you what is your planning style? Where do you struggle? What are you great at?
The thing about plans are they shouldn’t control you, nor should they stop you getting started. They are useful in the context of supporting your book writing efforts, but always use your intuition to know where to go next.
Outline, chapter framework and chunking it down
Often when I think of the next book I will write, I get a sense of overwhelm. It doesn’t matter that I have been doing this for many years, it just does. I think that the overwhelm is in reality excitement. Because no matter how big the project seems, I know that the key to getting it done is to chunk it down.
What I love about chunking is that you are breaking your book down into smaller units so making it manageable and less overbearing. And let’s not forget to add in your chunking rewards. Each time you achieve a chunk do something to celebrate. No, not champers, more a walk or cup of tea.
Chunking also helps to focus your attention. I like to do things in hour chunks. Depending on the time of year, I will write for an hour and then walk the dogs for 20 minutes. In the summer when it’s too hot to walk, I’ll sit on the terrace and stare at the hills with a cuppa for 10 minutes.
There are no medals for pushing and pushing.
Declutter your diary
It scares me sometimes when I think of the time I ‘waste’. We could argue that time is never wasted. More that time could be utilised more productively. I use the Daily Greatness Business Planner, and it has seriously changed how I get things done. It’s like having a school teacher standing over you and asking what you are up to? When you write – write a book into your planner and put hearts around it with a number of words it speaks to you. Can you hear it say “I’m going to be an author soon?’
Give stuff to other people to do. You are not a superstar – well you are- but even superstars can delegate. Give your crap, takes up needless time and non-essential things to someone else who loves doing the things you don’t.
Get you family on your side and negotiate time for yourself. Also, negotiate with yourself for time to write. The toughest person you will ever have to negotiate with is yourself. Hello me I’d like to write a book
“Hello me I’d like to write a book.”
“You do, don’t you have better things to do with your time?’
“Well, no not really, I have this big dream and I…”
“Dreams, do you? Well, you know what dreaming did!”
Ok, it might not go like that, but when you have a dream acknowledging your vulnerability and accepting that you too have needs is important. Step back and reflect on what you are putting in your way and then tell your inner bully to do one.
Find the right space
I’m lying on my sofa writing this. My head is pointing towards my health corner (I’ve had my house Feng Shui’d). The shelf behind me has hearts and crystals on, and it is just the best space for me to write in. It doesn’t matter why it’s the best space it just is. I’ve tried writing in other places, and some of them work, like being in bed or on the day bed by the terrace and others don’t. When you find the best space your words will flow.
Connect to your muse
Muse means to ‘reflect, to be absorbed in thought, to ponder, dream, wonder; loiter, waste time.’
When you sit to write, do you ponder, dream, become absorbed and reflect? I know that I do, I often lose myself in my writing, allowing my fingers just to write, seemingly as if they have a life of their own. Then every once in a while, I pause and go further into myself to look for the next sentence, and then I am off again. This to me is the act of musing – pausing to ponder. It is also about writing intuitively from not only the heart but from all parts of your inner wisdom.
Tuning into your intuition is like having a chat with your best friend. You listen, laugh, interrupt and finish each other’s sentences. You know where each of you is -going with your chat. It flows.
Writing intuitively is putting your pen to paper, switching off the conscious noises that distract your hearts flow and trusting that the right words will come. Your writing will be delicious, and later you will be able to lose yourself in a savoury soup that warms your gut and fills your heart with wonder.
What if you were able to not only connect intuitively but to also have a magical personal muse to help you to pluck the right words?
How many words by when?
Ok, so you have 7 weeks to write a book. That’s 49 days. Let’s imagine that you want a 35,000 word book. 30-40 words are easy to consume for your reader, and yes you may have way more content than that. The key is to keep it to a manageable amount and use the rest for blogs or a second book.
Some of your time will be taken with planning so let’s say that we have 40 days left to write 35,000 words.
- You could write 1200 words 3 days on 1 day off and get to 36000 words by day 39
- You could write 1500 words 2 days on and 1 day off and get to 36000 words by day 35
- You could write 2000 words a day 5 days on with 2 days off and get to 40,000 words by day 25
The more effort you make, the quicker you will be finished with your first draft, and the sooner you can tackle your editing and get your book finished. Now, no one is saying that as soon as you have finished the first draft, you have to crack on with editing. Personally, I like to take some time off after an epic write.
However, the fact remains that you can write your book within this period.
Don’t write your book, talk your book
Once you have a great outline, you could speak your book with something like Dragon Naturally speaking. Which means that you could probably talk your first draft in a much shorter period. I once spoke 40,000 words over a very long weekend.
The other way to write quickly is once you have your outline you talk it out and then transcribe, either yourself or using a service like rev.com.
Both of these will get you your first draft in a shorter period and ready to edit – which is where the magic comes.
Let’s not forget that you will probably already have content. So that when you have done your knowledge audit you will have fewer words to write and can get to editing much faster.
Writing to the first draft in a short period is more about perspective and action. Know that you can do it and you will. It comes back to knowing why, a good plan, outline and chapter framework along with delegating stuff and negotiating time and space.
Get up earlier
I’m an early bird, I use the time between 5 am and 7 am, for writing, then I walk and feed the dogs and myself. The evenings generally don’t work for me, I can outline stuff, but actual making sense writing – forget it. It may feel tough getting up an hour earlier. However, it’s only for a short period and look what you will get for it.
Change the way that you work
You may poke my eyes out for this and declare that it is impossible. Sometimes needs must. Having spent some time being unwell, I know that conserving my energy is paramount and when I have high energy everyone including me, benefits. As I said I get up early, and on the days I don’t, well, I don’t. I am generally in my office for 10 am or earlier depending on how far I have walked. The rest of the day is worked in chunks, and if a client wants to talk in the evening, then I plan around it and may take me time out during the day. The net result of being more flexible with my time and energy means that I have more energy and enthusiasm.
Just do it! Write a book
You will have all heard the saying that first drafts suck. That is true. Your job is to get your content out. Then you have something to work with. The magic comes in the edit. Guess what you need a plan and time for that too. We can talk about editing another time.
Things to consider before you write a book
What I want you to know is this, if you make the time, are willing to keep making the time and to take action, are prepared to learn how, believe that you can, know why and how you will use it, you will write your book.
What you give your energy to gets done.
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