This is an essay by Cody Wheeler.
You probably read that title and immediately called BS, but then wanted to know how you could do it too, right?
Don’t feel bad. Considering books have traditionally taken months, or sometimes even years to write, it’s a little bit hard to grasp that a book now be born in seven days.
With the wonders of self-publishing on platforms like Amazon’d KDP, the barriers to entry in the book publishing world are being bulldozed by the day.
Of course you still have to have some writing talent and be willing to see the big picture of what you’re going to write about to be able to write a full-length book, but that once gigantic and costly barrier of having to hire an agent to get a book published simply no longer exists.
That book idea you have can be published next month, and here’s how to write it in seven days with a little help from a world renowned self-help psychologist, Dr. Maxwell Maltz.
And if you still have any reservations, it might help to know that a variations of this technique is used by a couple of people you probably already know, Dan Kennedy (president of the Psycho Cybernetics foundation), and Seth Godin (possibly the most productive writer on the planet).
Note the following technique is geared towards non-fiction books, however you can certainly follow a similar process for fiction-based material.
How to Write Your Book in Seven Days
Step 1 – Commit to Your Idea
If you’re a true writer, you’ve probably kicked around several ideas of books you’d like to write. Well now’s the time to choose one. For this technique to work, you have to fully commit to one of those ideas, and commit to not get caught up in anything else for the next week of your life.
Yes, you can go to work, and even spend time with your family, but recognize that you are going to need a few hours a day to work on your book without distraction. Hopefully you can manage that.
If at this point you’re telling yourself you’ll never be able to do that, then you have a choice to make. You can either give up now, or you can give it a solid try and see what happens. The risk vs. reward scenario here is well in your favor my friend. Even if you miss your seven day target, you’ll still have written a good chunk of a book that you can still finish, right?
You don’t have to fully commit to a title at this point, but you do have to know what your book is going to be about. Most likely the title will come to you while you’re writing. For now, just accept that your idea is about to come to fruition, and commit to a blaze of writing glory over the next seven days.
Step 2 – Brainstorm and Outline
You’ve chosen your book subject matter, and the words are probably already starting to come together in your head. What I want you to do now is brainstorm your content, and outline the flow of your book.
Grab a piece of paper, a whiteboard, of whatever medium of writing you choose. Take about 30-45 minutes and throw down your chapter titles and subtitles that you would like to get across to your reader. What you’re doing here is starting to put together the pieces of your book so you know exactly what you’ll be writing before you write it.
This will not only increase your productivity while you’re writing by giving you a solid structure to work from, but it is vital to this full technique working well for other deeper reasons as well. You’ll see why in a minute.
Once you’ve got all of your ideas down, take a bit of a breather, let your mind go to work on your ideas, and then come back (on that same day) with a fresh mind.
Now I want you take your ideas, and put them into a logical flow that will make sense to your readers. Actually choose Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and all of the subsections of each chapter. Go ahead and get them laid out in a solid flow so you’ll have them ready to go when you begin writing.
When you feel like you’ve got a solid flowing outline that you can put in print your task is finished for Day 1. Resist the urge to begin writing at this point. I’m going to give you a technique that is going to make that a lot easier on you.
Step 3 – Sleep on It (Super Important)
This is where the magic happens.
You’ve now got a full outline of the book you want to write, and you’re going to let your subconscious do the writing for you using a technique Dr. Maltz shares in his book Psycho Cybernetics.
Chapter 6 of this book is titled, “Relax and Let Your Success Mechanism Work For You.” It’s all about something Maltz calls, the “Automatic Success Mechanism” that we each have inside us as part of our biological make-up as human beings.
Dr. Maltz’s research discovered that we are all wired to succeed. We just need to relax and equip our minds to be able to do it, and this is exactly what you’re going to do in this step. You’re going to let you subconscious go to work on the first few chapters of your book while you sleep.
On night 1 of your book writing journey, grab the outline you made and take it to sleep with you.
Study it for a few minutes, paying close attention to the first few sections you laid out for yourself that you’d like to get done tomorrow. Be aggressive with yourself. Aim to get a lot done. You’ve only got 6 days of actual writing left.
For each section you’d like to get done tomorrow, think about the content for a few minutes. Don’t think too hard. Just relax and talk through a little bit of the content in your chapters and subheadings in your mind. This will plant the ideas into your subconscious and you’ll actually begin writing while you sleep.
Most people say will say BS here and will give up without even giving it a shot, but I promise you if you try it, this really does work. You just have to trust it and try.
Seriously, what do you have to lose?
Step 4 – Start Writing
It’s now Day 2. If you followed Step 3, you’ll notice that you probably woke up with a whole bunch of new ideas in your head about what you want to write today. You’ve probably been making notes all day long about this content, and you’re extremely eager to get started. You should have no trouble writing those first few chapters now. Pretty cool, huh?
If you weren’t inspired over night, don’t worry. When you sit down to write you’ll notice it comes easy, and even if it doesn’t just get the process started and try again the following night. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest you know. You’ll have a much better shot at succeeding if you focus on keeping things moving.
This is where you have to be careful to block your time wisely. To have around a 100 page book, which is plenty to teach your readers a skill or tell a short story, and a solid amount for a short book, you need to write about 25,000 words. If you already know what you’re going to write and you’re a quick thinker, you can usually write about 1500 words in an hour.
Assuming you don’t make too many revisions along the way, that puts you at around 16 hours for your 25,000 words, which means over your six days you’re going to have to write around 3 hours a day. Of course feel free to write more or less depending on your flavor, but I feel like that’s a good milestone for most people.
This is where productivity principles are going to come into play in a big way. To be successful with this, you need to block your time wisely. You need to be as productive as possible when you write, so try to isolate yourself and minimize interruptions if possible. Also try to resist the urge to go back and make edits. The last thing you want to do is re-work everything you’ve already written.
Take a couple of short breaks during your writing sprees and make sure your mind is always fresh as well.
Once you’ve hit 4,000-4,500 words or so for the first day, call it quits and repeat the outline review process on the next chunk of your book as you go to sleep. It’s very important you do this each and every night. This is what is going to prepare you to write very effectively the next day.
Note: At this point I want you to check yourself. As much as I want you to write a book in 7 days, I don’t want you to produce low quality content to do so. Writing 4,000 words a day isn’t something just anyone can do. You have to be a pretty dedicated and focused writer to do so. If, after reflecting on your work, you feel like you were really rushed and didn’t write well, then you may want to consider cutting your daily writing in half in order to produce a higher quality product. There’s no shame in writing a book in 14 days either, or even 21.
I really want you to push yourself to write quickly and always work on improving your output, but I’ll leave this judgment call up to you.
Step 5 – Keep Writing
Writing for 6 days straight is a mentally taxing thing to do. A lot of people will get the urge to take a break and come back to it in a day. I urge you not to do this. One day is likely to turn into two. Two is likely to turn into four. Four is likely to turn into a week, and so on.
If you absolutely must take a break, be very disciplined with yourself and make sure you get back to writing. Remember your motivation for writing your book in the first place. This is what is going to keep you going.
Using the Psycho Cybernetics technique I shared with you earlier each night before you go to bed, as well as solid productivity principles, continue to knock out about 4,000-4,500 words each day, and by the time day 7 comes around, you’ll be finished! Now you just need to proofread for mistakes and you’re ready to go!
Note: It’s very important that you review the content you want to write the night before you write it. This is what allows your subconscious to go to work on the material while you sleep. If you neglect to do this, you’re going to have a much more difficult time with your writing.
Step 6 – Proofread for Mistakes
Other than adding in your resources, your table of contents, and any other content like a preface, the main content of your book is finished at this point.
Now you just need to proofread it. It’s going to be hard to proofread your entire book on Day 7 after you’ve been writing, so I recommend you allocate a day for this as well as doing any other sort of additional preparation you need to do before you send it to the proverbial printers.
Yes, technically that’s Day 8, but I never said how to plan, write, and proofread a book in 7 days, now did I?
Point being, the main work is done at this point, so now you have to focus on making sure you didn’t make any glaring spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors, and you’re good to go. Just try to resist the urge to rewrite the content of your book as you’re proofreading. That’s a recipe for a huge delay.
Once you’re finished proofreading, there’s one final step.
Step 7 – Just Ship It
Even after proofreading, many people want to go back and make hundreds of tiny little edits, add chapters, add content, and so on. It’s great that you want to keep improving and make a quality meaty product for your readers, but this cycle of development is only going to keep you spinning around in circles reading through your book over and over.
You have to recognize your ROI here. Most likely, you’re not getting a high return on your time when you’re nitpicking about the use of descriptive adjectives and cleaning up prepositions at the ends of your sentences.
At this point, even if your book is only about 98% of what you want it to be, you have to be ready and willing to pull the trigger. That final 2% could end up taking you months to perfect. The most productive people in the world, like Dan Kennedy and Seth Godin, have the ability to recognize when something is good enough, and at that point they ship it.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Not everyone is going to love your stuff, but odds are if you’re talented enough to write a 25,000 word book, you’re probably a pretty smart cookie. Be willing to share that knowledge with the world. Be willing to do something awesome.
On top of that, the great thing about the electronic publishing world today is that you can update your book at any time with a few step process that takes no longer than 10 minutes. Even if you have a print version, your future prints can be updated very easily. That should put your mind at ease.
So have the guts to release your Version 1, and be done with it. You can always come back and add content later.
Your Call to Action
So there you have it. You now have a system, backed by the psychology of one of the most recognized psychologists in the world, and used by some of the most prolific writers of our time. This system will allow you to write a book in seven days, and to do a high quality job while you’re at it. Take that knowledge and do something awesome with it. The publishing world is yours for the taking.
Remember, even if you have reservations and concerns, you have nothing to lose by giving this a shot. Even if you can’t hit that coveted seven day mark, you can most certainly hit the 21 day mark, and that’s not too shabby either.
Cody Wheeler is a Personal Improvement blogger at Academy Success. He focuses on teaching his community how to be more effective through improving their mindset, productivity, health and fitness, and personal finance skills. You can grab his Productivity Success Secrets Action Guide here today.
Interesting post Cody.
Step 5, Keep writing, is probably where most of us get hung up. Without that persistence there can be no book.
Chris Ciolli (@ChrisCiolli)
Hmmm. Have you done this and had good results? Just curious, because I might give it a go during NaNoWriMo.
My most recent book, Productivity Success Secrets: The Five Golden Rules of Time Management, was written with a hybrid of this approach. My 7 days of creation were split up over the course of a couple of weeks due to life events, however the psychological concept remained the same. Plan, review before you sleep, write, and repeat. The production from beginning to end was extremely fast.
Really interesting post, Cody.
What appealed to me most was Psycho Cybernetics. I really think it’ll help any writer become more productive. Thanks for sharing.
Amazing information Cody!
I never considered writing a book in a week, nor did I think it was possible for me. Since reading the breakdown of how it can work, I see it’s very doable. Just 4,000 words a day equals 8 pages a day. Without the direction of an outline this would be a serious challenge, possibly ending in substandard content. So Step 1 puts us ahead of the curve. In the past, I’ve found outlines to be helpful road maps to essays and other school assignments. I think it’ll be pretty fun to put an outline to use for such a grand project. No doubt it will be somewhat grueling, but I like a challenge. Thanks for sounding the alarm!
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