Writing a book takes serious work, but with the right process and strategies, you can write your book faster and with less stress.
As an author coach, one of the things I teach my clients and students is how to complete a book in a condensed time frame, and I suggest this “speed writing” method for two reasons:
1. The obvious reason: so they can have their book published and out in the world to start building their empire!
2. More importantly: by setting a goal for a condensed time frame, they’ll create momentum and realize their goals much faster.
Let’s say I set out to write my book over the course of a year. Chances are I would have worked on my book on the weekends, or when I felt “inspired,” and before long I probably would have become lackadaisical about writing my book, and one year would have turned into two, and so on….
I’m sure you’ve heard of writers who have been working on the same book for more than a few years, while others seem to write several full-length novels or non-fiction books each year.
I know better than to allow myself that much time to write my book, because I know myself. When I start a project or create something, I have to dive in head-first, and the process must consume me until its completion.
If you don’t write your book fast, in a condensed time-line, chances are you won’t ever write your book at all.
You’ll put it off, procrastinate, and lose all your momentum.
By selecting a dedicated completion date, I had a goal, and I worked diligently toward my goal each day until I reached it. And what was the result? I set out to write my book in 90 days, but I completed the first draft in just sixty!
And I’m going to share with you how I did it and how you can do it, too.
Excuses for Not Being a Productive Writer
I know what you’re probably thinking…
“I’m too busy to write a book that quickly…”
“If I write a book that quickly the quality of the book will suffer…”
“I have too many family and work obligations to write a book right now…”
I know, I know, I’ve heard it all before.
In fact, each year when I launch my 8-Week Book Writing Intensive, about two weeks into the course, like clockwork, I start receiving messages and emails from my students telling me that something has come up, they are having a hard time getting their writing done, they just have so many obligations…
I understand. Really, I do. Sometimes we set out to do something and life has other plans for us. Some things are just out of our control.
Although sometimes these excuses for not writing are legitimate, I find that often they are rooted in fear or self-doubt.
The truth is, all writers suffer from self-doubt and fear, including me! But if you want it badly enough, you have to work through those blocks that arise, and that starts by having a solid plan of action before you begin.
Once you create that plan and make a commitment to finishing your book, you have to stick to it!
But I’m not asking you to complete your final draft that quickly. It takes time to revise, polish and craft the final draft.
I’m talking about your first draft here.
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
― Shannon Hale
The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. Transferring the information and ideas from your head to paper or computer screen so you can later craft it into a book readers will love.
It doesn’t have to be perfect; in fact, nobody ever has to see the first draft besides you (unless, of course, you want them to, but I don’t recommend it).
So then, why do we feel so much pressure when no one is going to read the first draft of our book anyway?
Often we are our own worst critics, and we put pressure on ourselves. That darn ego barges in and tries to sabotage our goals and dreams.
We must learn to silence the ego, push through those obstacles, and finish the projects we set out to create. No. Matter. What.
A Writing System That Works
I have a writing system that works for me and has worked for the countless clients and students I’ve worked with, and it can work for you, too.
How I wrote my first draft in 60 days:
I knew what type of book I wanted to write: a non-fiction book for my business, a book that would encompass what I do and teach, and would ultimately be the base of my empire. I estimated my book would have 40,000 words upon completion, a good starting goal for a non-fiction book.
Once I had my word count goal, I decided how many days of writing I would give myself. I decided on 90 days, because really, three months is plenty of time to complete a first draft of a non-fiction book, in my opinion.
If I had set out to write a memoir or a 350-page work of fiction, I may have given myself more time. Maybe not; after all, thousands of authors complete the NaNoWriMo challenge each November when they set out to complete the first draft of a novel in just 30 days during National Novel Writing month.
I asked myself, “Why can’t I complete my book in just 90 days?”
I was only setting out for 150-200 pages, after all.
Note: The final book Authorpreneur is 170 published pages and 46,000 words.
Once I had my goal word count, 40,000 words, and I knew I wanted to complete my book in 90 days, it was easy for me to find a target daily word count, or the number of words I needed to write each day to meet my goal.
Target Daily Writing Word Count Formula
Goal Word Count / # of days = ___________ Target Daily Word Count
I’ll use myself as an example:
40,0000 words / 90 days = 444 Target Daily Word Count
There you have it!
In total, 444 words was my target daily word count.
Are you ready for this???
That’s only about two pages per day.
I knew all I had to do to write my first draft in 90 days was simply write 444 words each day.
Do you think you can commit to writing two pages per day? If so, then you can complete a first draft in just 90 days!
Setting Your Writing Goals
How, then, did I complete my first draft in only 60 days?
First things first: I decided on a completion date and put my goal in writing.
There’s something magical about putting our goals in writing that makes them materialize, so I not only wrote it on my calendar, but I also wrote it on a post-it and stuck it to the side of my computer monitor, and I wrote it on my bathroom mirror—anyplace where I would see it daily as a constant reminder of my goal and deadline.
Now, I’m extremely busy, just like you. I often work 12-hour days, many weeks without a day off, so when I looked at my schedule, I didn’t have extra time in my day to write a book. I had to create time. Which meant I had to get up an hour earlier each day.
Instead of getting up at 7am, I got up at 5:45 each morning. I figured getting up that early for three months of my life would not kill me. Looking back, I’m so glad that I did, even though I had some groggy, unmotivated mornings along the way.
Regardless, I committed to one hour of dedicated writing each morning while the house was still quiet, before I checked my email or scrolled through social media. I got up and went straight to my computer and completed my one hour of dedicated writing time, whether I felt “inspired” or not.
“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
― Jodi Picoult
Were there days when I couldn’t fit in my daily writing? Of course, I’m human, things happen. Life happens.
But when those days arose I took note of how far behind I was in my daily word count and I either made up for that lost word count on the following day, or over the next weekend.
There were many Saturdays when I had to lock myself in my office for the day to catch up. I missed out on time with family and friends and special events. I had to make sacrifices and get creative with my time, but you know what? I did it. Because it was important to me, and I had a deadline to meet.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
— Jim Rohn
Writing Tips for Success
Resist the urge to edit as you write.
There is a time for self-editing and revision, but it’s not during your dedicated writing time.
Why? Because each time you stop to second-guess yourself, you stop the flow of creativity and it takes approximately 20 minutes to get back into that creative flow. If you only have one hour of writing time set aside each day, you can’t afford to break that flow, because that’s when your best writing emerges.
If you separate your creative writing work from your editing work, you’ll become a faster and better writer.
Take note of your word count each day.
I set out to write one hour each day, and I kept a notepad next to my computer and recorded my word count. Even on days when I surpassed my hour of writing, I would break at the hour mark and record my word count.
Each day I tried to surpass the prior day’s word count.
That’s how I was able to silence the ego. I didn’t have time to listen to that voice that told me I should change the last word I wrote or edit that last sentence. I had a goal to meet, and by God, I was going to meet it.
Getting in the Creative Writing Zone
Do you know what happened by sticking to this simple writing system?
Over time, I not only became a much faster writer, but I found that my writing had improved, because I wasn’t inside my head and instead I was allowing that creativity to flow through me.
Have you ever been in the “zone” while writing, only to go back later and read what you wrote, and thought to yourself, “Wow! Did I really write that?”
That’s because you got into that creative flow, and that’s when we do our best writing.
By recording my daily word count and trying to surpass it each day, I found that I was writing 1000-1500 words per hour, more than doubling my target daily word count, which is how I was able to meet my goal in 60 days instead of ninety.
So you see, you too can complete a first draft in only 90 days, but it takes a strong commitment to your goal, and a willingness to get creative with your schedule and make your book and your writing a priority.
If writing your book isn’t a priority for you, you won’d do it. And if it is a priority for you, you owe it to yourself to commit to it and create a structured writing process that will work for you.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that I finished my book and put it out into the world. Within its first week of publication, Authorpreneur became the #1 bestseller in its category on Amazon and received over twenty 5-star reviews.
Since then I have been booked for radio and podcast interviews, book signings, and speaking engagements. I’m living the life of my dreams. And that makes all my hard work worthwhile.
I hope this serves as proof that you too can write a high-quality book in just 90 days.
Of course, you’ll need additional time for self-editing and revision, and then professional editing and crafting your final draft, but first you need to complete the first draft so you have content to work with.
Getting started is the hardest part. But once you begin and you start to see progress, you’ll gain excitement and momentum, and your before you know it you’ll meet your goal.
And you’ll know all that hard work was worth it.