How I Wrote a 288 Page Book in 7 Days…and How You Can Too. (Even if You Failed Mrs. Potter’s 3rd Grade English Class)
For most authors, the process of writing a book can be a major drag.
It sounds all fun . . . sitting there . . . sharing your wisdom . . . sipping coffee . . . and listening to the birds sing.
But in reality, writing can be an arduous, difficult and painful struggle.
Honestly, think back to Day #1—or even Hour #1—of any writing project you have ever attempted. It was hard at the beginning, wasn’t it? This initial pain has shut down more book projects than you could possibly imagine.
Fortunately, there is a very good solution to all of this writing pain. And I’ll share that with you in a minute.
First, some background: I have written 5 books that range from niche topics such as how to be a fighter pilot, to broad subjects like leadership in the Christian market. When you throw all of that together with blogs, articles and newsletters, I have probably written 2,000 pages of content. Maybe more.
I’ve done all of that with the following constraints…
- I possess a below-average intelligence. You think I am joking? I failed Kindergarten.
- My typing scuks. Seourisly, it’s raelly bad. I hunt and peck. Not pretty.
- Finally, I rarely come fully prepared for a writing session. In other words, a lot of what I write is “stream of consciousness” (which requires a lot of editing).
What I am about to teach you isn’t hype. Nor is it a “magic pill.” I saw some guy pitching an eBook once on how to write a book in 14 days. I didn’t read it, but my guess is that what I am about to tell you is better than his $97 course.
Ok, so here goes. Here are some tips on how to write your book in two weeks (or less).
Give Yourself Permission to Write a Crappy First Draft
This one concept has been so important to my writing that I literally start every session with this in mind. Good is good enough, especially for a first draft. Don’t obsess over every word and edit a thousand times. That all comes later. Just write. Let it flow. And then when you do go back and read what you wrote, expect it to suck (at first). I am not kidding. This is part of the process, so accept it.
Which is why tip #2 is . . .
Don’t Write and Edit at the Same Time
The normal human conscious mind can do one thing at a time—really well. It’s why they have laws about not texting while driving. So, unless God magically gave you two brains then you need to concentrate on doing one thing at a time. First, write. Then, edit. Most people write and edit simultaneously, which means that they do a bad job of both. Writing and editing at the same time usually yields choppy, truncated copy. And there is almost no way to fix that.
Which brings me to tip #3 . . .
Write, Write, Write . . . and Then Feel the Momentum!
Just about every book I have ever written goes like this:
Chapter #1 – Reads like something Curious George wrote with an ink blotter, drunk and while riding a horse. (See the “original” art to the right.)
Chapter #2 – Reads like something I wrote while drunk and riding a horse.
Chapter #3 – Better, but it’s still barely passable for Mrs. Potter’s 3rd Grade English Class.
Chapter #4 – Ok.
Chapter #5 – Good.
Chapter #6 – Really good.
Chapter #7 – Freaking amazing.
Chapter #8 (and all subsequent chapters) – A combination of Nirvana, Heaven . . . and the pleasurable sensation you get while going down a waterslide. Your brain is screaming, “Look out Hemingway . . . there’s a new kid in town!!” Ahh . . . I love that feeling . . .
Now, here is the rub. To get to Chapter #8 (and after), you have to pass through Chapters #1 through #7. All the time that you’re thinking that your book sucks, you’re actually writing your way to perfection. You just have to slog through the mire to get there.
The other cool thing is that once you are done with your last chapter, you can go back and re-write (or at least aggressively edit) the first few chapters while in a state of writing bliss.
And that brings me to my next point. You can’t get to Chapter #8 unless you . . .
Write Without Distraction
I won’t belabor this point. If you write with your email open, or your Facebook open or your phone on, then you are out of your mind.
When I write, I usually spend three to four hours straight writing. No distractions. No interruptions. Then, when my brain and fingers are tired, I take a break to check email . . . Facebook . . . or whatever. For example, while writing my last book, I checked my email for a grand total of 20 minutes a day.
Ok, so now you have a first draft. Here is what you do next . . .
Edit, Edit, Then Edit Out Loud
Let’s face it, editing is hard work. But it is the only proven process for turning your crappy little first draft into a masterpiece. So accept it. I usually do at least three editing passes before I send the book off to a real-life professional editor. My first pass is for flow, content and style. This is where I am moving, deleting and updating huge chunks of material. I also usually add a bunch of content here as well.
My second editing pass is for the details. Spelling, grammar and readability. I change passive to active voice when able. I use the thesaurus to look for some word alternatives. And I also look for places to add in Alliteration . . . which Always Attracts Ample Attention.
My last editing pass is the most frustrating but also the most helpful. This is when I print the entire manuscript and read it out loud. The reason you need to do this is because your brain will automatically proof-check your work before it gets mentally processed. Your brain knows what you wanted to say, so it will show you just that (instead of what you actually wrote). Reading out loud highlights the problems. When you hit a sentence that doesn’t sound right (even though the grammar may be ok), then re-word it.
Ok, so there…now go write. You may be surprised at what you come up with.
Go get ‘em Hemingway!