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.
- 2. It’s possible to finish a first draft of a book in about 1 month.
- 3. It’s easier to get into the flow state when you have a very specific objective.
- 4. Writing a book is a wonderful way to form a writing habit.
- 5. It’s all about small daily actions.
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.
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.