5 Lessons I Learned from Writing My First eBook

black typewriter

Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

July 19, 2020

When I started working part-time in February 2020, I came up with a to-do-list of everything I wanted achieved by the end of the year. Many items on my list were simple, for example:

  • Make it a daily habit to write.
  • Start using social media for the blog.

And somewhere at the end of my rather short list, I had this one pretty unbelievable goal:

Write my first book.

This goal felt so overwhelming that I had decided to shelve it and procrastinate on it for as long as possible. My plan was to write short blog posts for a few months until I built up enough momentum to tackle an entire book sometime nearer the end of the year.

But one thing led to another, and I finished the book over a few weeks in March and April 2020, learning a lot in the process.

So, here are some important lessons that I learned from it.

1. Sometimes, ideas come to you when you least expect it.

After I started working part-time, I wrote rather aimlessly for a few weeks. I just babbled on about my own personal financial journey, when I planned to retire, how much I made in dividend interest, financial mistakes I had made in the past, amongst other similar topics.

More often than not, I found myself struggling to put thoughts into words, and to continuously come up with great topics to write about.

Office Hot Desk

Hot desking with just my laptop.

However, the more I persevered, the easier writing became. To keep myself disciplined, I met up with a particularly enthusiastic entrepreneur friend of mine on every free day that I had, and we worked together by hot-desking.

One day, while I was staring across her office, an idea suddenly hit me – “Become Rich on a Modest Salary”. I have no idea where it came from, but it hit me out of nowhere.

After deciding that “becoming rich” felt like incredibly spammy clickbait, I decided to go with “Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary”.

I immediately got to work outlining a blog post, which I planned to be no more than 3,000 words.

At the halfway mark, I found myself already at 4,000 words. I tried to cut down the number of words, but to no avail; there was no way to fit all of this into a single blog post.

Since I couldn’t make it shorter, I decided to make it longer. And this began my book-writing adventure.

2. It’s possible to finish a first draft of a book in about 1 month.

I started writing my book on 2 March 2020, and I completed my final words of the first draft by 8 April 2020. Altogether, it took me 1 month and 1 week (or 5.5 weeks).

Here’s how much time I invested into the book’s first draft each week:

  • Week 1: 22 hours
  • Week 2: 26 hours
  • Week 3: 16 hours
  • Week 4: 22 hours
  • Week 5: 25 hours
  • Week 6: 14 hours
  • Total: 125 hours

And here’s how many words I wrote for the first draft each week:

  • Week 1: 9,835 words (Completed chapters 1A and 1B)
  • Week 2: 12,082 words (Completed chapters 2A and 2B, started on chapter 3A)
  • Week 3: 5,962 words (Completed chapters 3A and 3B)
  • Week 4: 9,202 words (Completed chapters 4A and 4B)
  • Week 5: 9,726 words (Completed chapter 5A, wrote half of chapter 5B)
  • Week 6: 6,098 words (Completed chapter 5B and introduction)
  • Total: 52,905 words

Granted, a lot of the book was about personal experience and my personal journey, which made it infinitely easier to write. However, I still find it quite intriguing that I was able to get a fair amount of writing done on top of my part-time office job and tutoring side hustle.

3. It’s easier to get into the flow state when you have a very specific objective.

The reason I was able to finish the entire 53,000-word first draft of the book in about 1 month was because I was in a flow state for most of my days.

Before I started writing the book, I actually planned the entire outline, down to each chapter and sub-chapter. Here’s what Chapter 1A looked like after being broken down into sub-chapters.

  • Chapter 1A: Earn a $50,000 Gross Salary
    • Sub-Chapter 1: How Much is Too Little for a Salary?
    • Sub-Chapter 2: Why Aim for a $50,000 Gross Annual Salary?
    • Sub-Chapter 3: What to Expect from a Job Paying a $50,000 Salary
    • Sub-Chapter 4: Should You Ever Work Part-Time or Take a Mini-Retirement?
    • Sub-Chapter 5: How to Make the Most of Your Salary
    • Sub-Chapter 6: How to Make the Most of Your Time Outside the Office
  • For more information on every single chapter and sub-chapter in the book, please click on this link right here.

I made sure that the entire outline had a logical flow to it, and then I just started writing.

I was in a flow state and particularly productive most days because I didn’t have to wake up and wonder what I was going to write about. Instead, I had a very specific pre-planned objective, for example, to finish 3 sub-chapters each day. I grab the sub-chapter’s topic, and then I just write.

There was no need to waste any time or mental bandwidth making decisions on what topic to write about, so I could spend all of it on cranking out words.

4. Writing a book is a wonderful way to form a writing habit.

From my personal experience, writing a book really forced me to sit my normally-lazy ass down and get stuff done.

I managed to make things easier for myself by pre-planning all my content, and then working in a flow state for the entire month.

After the entire month (or rather, 5.5 weeks) of writing my first draft, I got used to writing a fair number of words each week.

While I used to struggle with writing even just 2,000 words per week, now I can do 10,000 words each week without too much trouble.

Writing a book will push you out of your comfort zone, and make you do things that you normally wouldn’t do. After a while, what used to make you uncomfortable becomes your new normal.

5. It’s all about small daily actions.

At the beginning of this year, if you had asked me whether I could finish the first draft of a 269-page book within a month or so, I would have laughed and told you that’s crazy.

269 pages? No thanks.

However, fortunately for me, I started first by writing a blog post on the topic, which became extremely long, which I then turned into a book. I had never set out to write a 269-page book. I just wrote a few pages each day, every day, which accumulated and became that 269-page monster that I’m shocked to even have completed.

Just like how $1 million is made $1 at a time, a 269-page book is written just 1 page at a time.

Have you written a book before, and what lessons did you learn? Or is writing a book something you plan to do in the future?

As always, thank you for reading and supporting this blog. 

Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary Book Cover

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  1. Dragon Gal

    So inspiring Liz! I’ve always wanted to write a book and really appreciate your sharing your journey. So very encouraging. And I love how you say every book is written one page at a time.

    Congrats to you! Very excited for your accomplishment!

    Cheers, Dragon Gal

    • Liz

      Hi DGal! Thank you for stopping by! 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind words as well. I still can’t believe it myself that I actually completed an entire book. It’s definitely a journey worth going on, no matter the results. Will be patiently waiting for a book from you in the future too 😉