Writing a Book

A Simple 4-Step Process for Writing Your First Book in 100 Days

A Simple 4-Step Process for Writing Your First Book in 100 Days
Image credit: StockSnap

It's on a lot of people's bucket lists, along with "go to space” or “walk through Central Park naked.” Okay, maybe that’s just my bucket list.

Related: 5 Truths to Contemplate Before You Start Writing Your Book

But my guess is, somewhere on your list too is the desire to write a book. I also know that the very thought of writing a book generally feels like a monumental task, probably something akin to launching a rocket into orbit.

But I just did it. On Monday I published two new books on investing in rental properties, which I wrote in under 100 days total. The result was more than 220,000 words, 160,000 of which were my own (and 60,000 were my awesome wife Heather's).

And now, look -- I'm not a professional writer. I simply followed a process.

Here's that same simple, four-step process that you too can follow to get your book written in the next 100 days. 

Step one: Commit like Arnold.

Have you ever seen old videos of Arnold Schwarzenegger? The guy was ripped. Really, he still is. But, let's be honest . . . he didn't get that way because he "wanted to get in shape." He did it because he was committed. 

Are you? Now, I know you are thinking, “Brandon, I’ve already know I want to write a book. I've been committed for years." Na na na . . . that's not good enough. 

I want to have six pack abs. I want Arnold-style pecs. I want to look ravishing in my undies. But, let’s be honest; I haven’t really committed to that. I want it, but what am I doing other than talking about it? Nothing. 

One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Michael Jordan, who said, "Some people want it to happen; some wish it would happen. Others make it happen.” In other words: All the wanting and wishing in the world won't do you any good. You've got to commit. 

Step two: Define your word count.

How many words do you want your book to be? 

Typical books are 60,000 to 100,000 words, so pick a number in that range. Or a lower one, if you are a slacker. Then, divide that number by 100, to know exactly how many words you need to write each day. This is your daily minimum. Write it on your wall. Write it on your ceiling. Tattoo it on your eyelids if you have to; this is important. 

For example, I wanted my book to be 100,000 words. So, I said to myself, "Brandon, you need to write 1,000 words per day for the next 100 days.”

But let's not stop there. Just having a word count goal isn't good enough. We need to talk about exactly what you are going to write on. 

Related: 7.1 Steps to Writing Your Book

Step three: Outline like MapQuest.

Okay, now that you've committed yourself and set your word count goal, it's time for the next vital step: outlining your book in incredible detail. 

Of course, everyone knows about having an outline. But I want you to go deeper. I want you to think of an outline as being like an old-school MapQuest map. Yeah, you remember those days.

Back before smartphones, back when you wanted to go to that awesome party in the next town over but didn’t know how to get there, remember what you did? You hopped on your dad's computer and printed off 13 pages of step-by-step directions from MapQuest. That way, you wouldn't get lost. 

And that is the methodology you are going to follow now for your outline. Because, here’s the truth: The more thorough your outline is, the easier your book will be to write. By having a specific, mapped-out plan for your writing, you’ll take fewer detours, hit fewer dead ends and get to the party faster.

But I'm not talking about just any old outline. I don't care about just your chapter titles. Or your "flow." I wanna know everything about your book in excrutiating detail. Every chapter. Every subchapter. Every point you plan on making. Jot it all down. Summarize each and every subchapter.

This is going to take some time. But, trust me: Every minute you spend outlining is an hour you save writing.

When I decided to write a book, I sat down with my wife at Starbucks and enjoyed my usual tall, 180-degree, nonfat, peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream and no mocha drizzle. (Yeah, because I’m that guy.) And, sitting there at Starbucks we made a pact: We would not leave the store until the outline was done.

At the end of our brainstorming, I had 100 clearly defined subchapters I wanted to talk about. Since I was going to write the book in 100 days, I knew I needed to write just one subchapter per day that contained 1,000 words.

That's how I established a specific daily goal and knew exactly what each day was going to look like for the next 100 days. The big goal of writing a 100,000-word book no longer seemed so daunting. 

OK, so now if you’ve committed andi you’ve outlined your book, the rest of the task is going to be stupidly simple. I’m serious. The hard part is over. The rest will take more time, but it’s going to be far easier. 

So let’s go to Step 4, which is simply to write . . . every day.

Step four: Write daily with no excuses.

Seriously, every day. I don’t care if it’s your birthday. I don’t care if you have a chronic disease or have been kidnapped by pirates. Write every single day. 

By now, you'll have a minimum number of words established and you'll know exactly what you are going to be writing about each day. You will not fall asleep at night until you’ve written them. Period. So, find an ideal writing time (I'd recommend waking up one hour earlier than usual. You can do it.)

Stop whining. You've already committed! So, put your fingers on your keyboard. If the thought of doing that overwhelms you, let me offer three tips: 

  • Stick to the process. Remember, you already spent 10 hours at Starbucks outlining your book in detail. You know exactly what you are going to write about today, so just write. It's like the process of getting six-pack abs. You don't have to worry about the goal if you have a defined, structured routine that you follow every day. The results will take care of themselves if you just stick to a daily process. 
  • Break it up, mentally. Remember, you are no longer writing a book. You are simply writing one subchapter each day. For me, I envisioned myself simply writing a blog post each morning. Easy. I do that all the time, so this was no different.Sometimes, the challenges people face in writing a book are 100 percent mental. It just seems so big. So, break it up into little parts and write a short blog post each day.
  • Write for a specific person. Go to your Facebook wall and find one of your friends who you know 100 percent for sure is your ideal reader. Someone who would completely love and benefit from reading your book. Now, go to that person's Facebook photos and print out a full-size 8.5-by-11-inch photo of his or her face. Seriously.

Next, hang it on your wall wherever you are going to write, and look at it any time you are stuck. You are not writing a book, you are just explaining a concept or story to your friend. That’s it. I can't oversell the benefits of using a photo when writing. Give it a try and you'll see. It changes everything. 

Writing a book is a long process, I won't deny it. However, it's not impossible. If you commit to writing your book, define your daily word goal, outline your book in detail and meet your daily writing quota, you will complete your book with far less effort than you ever imagined possible. 

So, get out there and start writing. Every. Single. Day. 

Related: How to Write a Book While Running Your Startup