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How to Write a Book in Six Weeks (and Live to Tell About It)

[Note: This post was written by guest contributor Beth Hayden, a social media expert and author of Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest.]

When I was writing a proposal for my recent book on Pinterest marketing for John Wiley and Sons, my prospective editor asked how quickly I might be able to write the manuscript.

I thought it over and came up with my most aggressive possible timetable: four months.

In reply, the editor asked, “Could you do it in six weeks?”

“Six weeks? To write a whole BOOK?” I thought. “Is she insane?”

But if the editor of a major publishing house wants to give you a book deal — and you won’t get the contract unless you agree to a ridiculously tight timeline — you say yes. And then you figure out how to write a book in six weeks. So that’s exactly what I did.

How did I write 35,000 words in six weeks? Read on for my best tips on writing under incredibly short deadlines.

EMBRACE THE DEADLINE

Once I got used to the idea, I actually loved my short deadline. Tight timelines motivate you and keep you from taking more time than necessary to complete the task at hand.

I know for certain that if I had been given two years to write my book, I would have taken the entire two years – and I’m not certain the two-year book would have been any better than the one I wrote in six weeks.

Work expands to fit the time you allow it – so give your writing work less time in order to work faster, better and more efficiently. Embrace the tight timeline instead of resisting it, and you’ll be able to plow into the work with aplomb.

SET A SCHEDULE

For some people, it works to write at the same time each day. For others, they need to vary the work time from day to day.

We have to follow our own personal rhythms in order to discover our peak productivity times. We all know when we’re likely to be productive and clear-headed. We need to use that knowledge to create a writing schedule that fits into those productive times of day.

So whether you’re an early riser of a writing night owl, schedule your writing at a time that works for you (even if that means revising your schedule each morning according to how you’re feeling.)

But make sure you do schedule your writing time – don’t kid yourself and think that you will write when you’re “in the mood.” Author Steven Pressfield said, “The professional does not wait for inspiration; he acts in anticipation of it. He knows that when the Muse sees his butt in the chair, she will deliver.”

BREAK IT DOWN

When I started my book project, I divided my manuscript up into small, manageable sections.

My first step was to write out my book’s table of contents. I mind-mapped the contents of the entire book, then wrote out the entire table of contents. Then I dug into the writing, and during the entire six weeks of the project, I tackled one chapter at a time.

Author E.L. Doctorow once compared writing to driving at night. He said, “You can never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I feel like that’s the way I created my entire book – one sentence, one subheading and one chapter at a time.

PUT YOURSELF ON A MEDIA FAST

One of the best things you can do when under a tight timeline is clear your head so you can create. This could mean imposing a strict media fast (or at the very least, a media diet).

You cannot meet a short timeline when you are watching YouTube videos, reading tweets, and looking at Pinterest images for five hours a day. Creation will not happen when all you do is consume. And since our daily lives are filled with constant invitations to consume, you need to put some structure in place so you’re not constantly tempted.

I’m a huge fan of software that blocks your access to the Internet while you’re trying to work. Try Freedom (http://macfreedom.com/) and enjoy blissful liberty from Twitter, Facebook and email for as long as you want (it even lets you set a timer!)

PUT YOUR BUTT IN THE CHAIR

You will not be able to crank out content on a short timeline if you make excuses. You simply must put your butt in the chair and write. For many hours. Every single day.

You must write a lot in order to produce great content (and become a better writer!)

Finishing a book in six weeks meant that I worked very hard, every day, until the book was completed. And by the end of that six weeks, I noticed that the words were coming much easier. I would just sit down at the computer, fire up the chapter I needed to work on, and the words would just flow. And better yet – writing was fun!

This was no magic trick. This flow was the result of sitting down to write for many hours, every single day, for six solid weeks.

You can get there, too. And you can meet ridiculously tight deadlines – whether self-imposed or forced on you by outside circumstances. But you must do the work.

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What are your best tips for getting lots of writing done in a short amount of time? I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

Want to read the book I wrote in six weeks? Check out Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest. To learn more about how to get more Pinterest followers and how to convert pinners into buyers, download my free Pinterest e-course.

Turn your book manuscript into an eBook!

[Image of clock from Shutterstock.]

 

 

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