Last year, I decided I was done being a consumer.
I wanted to create valuable content and share it with the engineering and tech community.
Serendipitously, I received two offers from tech publishers to write a book.
Both are reputable publishers in tech. One is the largest publisher in the industry.
I signed the deal with the largest one, O’Reilly, but there was one catch. The book had to be on bookshelves by the end of year and it was already May.
I made writing and finishing the manuscript my sole mission. I gave up social outings, trips, Netflix, and social media.
Here is how I wrote two books in one year
Set a Daily Goal for How Much You Want to Write
Things were off to a rocky start with my first book when my co-authors and I missed a deadline. We were close to missing another deadline which meant the book would be delayed until the next year.
It was a humbling experience to tell the editor (who was awesome, which made it that much harder) that we weren’t making enough progress to meet our deadline.
We decided we had to create accountability and make changes — fast if we had any hope of finishing the book on time.
No excuses. We would check in every morning with our plan for the day. This forced us to put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard?) and get it done.
When I got started I believed writing 1–2 pages a day was almost impossible. I struggled to get a half a page of writing day done. By the time I started my second book, I was easily writing 3+ pages a day without even thinking about it.
Start small. Set a goal to write a half page a day. No excuses.
Give yourself a break one or two days a week. But the other five? Don’t do anything else until you’ve reached your goal.
Give up the good shit
If you want to write a book fast, you have to make sacrifices to create the time you need to get your book done. I gave up social media, Netflix, and social outings while I was trying to get my book released on time.
This wasn’t easy at first to cut out the addiction to social media and netflix. But after a few months of watching next to no television, I realized, I didn’t miss it. Now, I rarely watch anything. I no longer feel compelled to check Facebook or Instagram. In fact, I had to add my friends birthdays to an actual calendar because I didn’t see Facebook calendar alerts.
And, it was so worth it. I was able to write 3–5 pages a day at my peak while working a full-time job during the day.
If you’re watching 2–3 hours of television, and spending 2+ hours on your phone each day, you’re giving up five hours every day that you could be writing or creating a new product.
That adds up to 28 hours a week.
What could you get done if you had an extra day in your week?
Create a reward system
A co-author scheduled a trip to Hawaii immediately after our book was supposed to be done. As the deadline was getting closer, we were concerned he’d spend most of his vacation thinking about the book if we didn’t finish it.
That became our sole motivator to push twice as hard each day.
Pick out something for your writing project that you can reward yourself with when you reach your goals. I do this even after I finish a blog post (and, yes, I have a reward planned for completing this one).
When you sit down to write, force yourself to pick one idea from your outline that you’re going to focus on for that writing session.
It’s so much easier to write a page a day or more if you know exactly what you want to write.
For each writing project, I create an outline and select what I’m going to focus on the following day. If I don’t do this, I find I usually end up writing nothing that day. Setting an intention the night before will save you from idly glancing through what you have previously written and adding a sentence here and there to your old work.
Make a name for yourself.
If you want to get a book deal, you’ll need to position yourself as the expert in that subject. Similarly, if you want to publish a book that gets readers, you need an audience.
I received two offers to write books from publishers, because I made a name for myself in my field. I was speaking at meetups, conferences, giving workshops, and creating projects in a new and growing field.
Never write and edit at the same time
When I was writing several pages a day, I wasn’t editing at the same time. By staying in the writer’s mindset, not the editor, I was able to focus completely on the writing and creativity. I focused on getting as much of my thoughts down on paper, as I could quickly.
Was everything I wrote fantastic? Absolutely not. I probably tossed a half page for every page that I wrote.
By avoiding the editor mindset while I was writing, I was able to write more and often come up with great ideas because I wasn’t doubting myself as I wrote.
Always be pushing forward
But using the habits and processes I’ve shared, I went from writing a half page a day to three pages a day, in only a few months. This daily practice trained my mind to believe that writing three pages a day was normal. It became a habit — like brushing my teeth.
Perhaps, writing a single book is something you can’t imagine for yourself. I’m here to tell you it is possible.
How many pages will you write today?
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