How to Write a 60,000-Word Book in 84 Days (Or, the Big News that My Book is Finished!)

Early this past June, I decided to write the book that I had been dreaming to write for two and a half years.

84 days and 60,000 words later, Lead Without Followers is finished!

I’m psyched. Drained. Amped up. Exhausted. However, while at the beginning of this week I felt like the hard work was finally done, it’s really just beginning.

We’re already 2 and a half weeks from launch date, September 26 2011!!

The book will be available in softcover(!) and Kindle on Amazon.com, and in several incredible digital packages here on DaveUrsillo.com (.PDF, iPad, .mobi, audiobook and video-book). I’ll also be offering signed editions through the blog :)

I’m kicking everything into overdrive. I’m officially in publicity / marketing / pimp my ride / Dear-Lord-please-help-me mode.

But you know what? I realized something tonight. This is totally awesome. I’m jacked up excited. Like, so excited to finally get this book into your hands! Not only will you love reading it (yeah, it’s a great read), but I just can’t wait for all the awesome, fun programs and giveaways and more to get YOU as excited as I am.

Most will be announced on the new Lead Without Followers Facebook Page – “Like” it here.

In the mean time and as I switch gears, you’ve asked a bunch of great questions about my 84-day writing experience.

Here they are, hope you enjoy them :)

How to Write a 60,000-Word Book in 84 Days

@KristinLaj: I’d want to know about time management and balancing it with all the other work you’ve got going on.

Answer: Early on, time management is easy. You’ve got days and days of emptiness and opportunity on the calendar.

All I was focused on in the beginning was to work myself into the strongest, best mindset for writing — in other words, getting into the zone, minimizing distractions, focusing on leadership and the Lead Without Followers philosophy.

@foxrentcar: How you structured your day

My alarm goes off at 6AM. Sometimes I get up then, and sometimes I’ll hit snooze until 7:30AM. Either way, my first order of business is usually to get up and go for a short run to clear my head, get some alone time outdoors and to ease into the “writing zone” that I mentioned in the question above.

I’m a “go with the flow” kind of writer and worker, so each day progresses based upon what (a) needs to get done and (b) what I seem to be getting done most efficiently in that moment. Variety — mixing up projects and goals every few hours — helps to keep the mind fresh.

@katenorthup: how to make the book content valuable while creating a large quantity of words in a short time.

Tell stories. Writers are story-tellers, and so when you want to provide value and pure content in book form, you can’t just mimic a blog post format. You need to tell a story. And have related, powerful stories within stories interspersed throughout that one “bigger” story.

By story-telling, additional value comes in the form of the large quantity of words — you’re providing layers of humanity through human stories, especially your own.

@KristinOffiler: Do you aim for hitting a daily word count, or write for a set amount of time, or…?

Early on, I wanted to churn out as many words as possible. Once you have an abundance of material, you can edit and cut and ween down until everything is sharp, crisp, and powerful.

That said, I found that I work better not working towards arbitrary number goals. I focused on writing the book as much as possible, every day, until it felt “done enough,” because a book really never is “done.” :)

@walshcaitlin: how did you stay motivated?

The Lead Without Followers alternative leadership philosophy has been my entire life for the last three years, whether I wanted it to or not. It is what compelled me to quit my job and tread my own path. It’s not hard to stay motivated when everything you have ever worked for and towards is, itself, what you’re working to share with the world.

@KristenCurator: How were you so disciplined?!?!

When you work for yourself, you have no one to tell you what to do. No boss. No quarterly reports.

You have total freedom. And that level of freedom doesn’t actually liberate you. It continually burdens you, every day, in a million ways, through which you could be distracted or get sidetracked, watch TV, take a nap, quit, or wait for someone else to do it. But that’s the great part. You’re free to do nothing, but instead, you feel more driven than ever to work as hard as you possibly can.

@bybloggers: Seeing as I’ve been writing my own 50,000 word epic, I’d love to see advice for rewriting and avoiding tunnel vision

I’m a visionary sort of writer, so tunnel vision usually isn’t my problem — being waaaay to open and head-in-the-sky usually is! The way to overcome tunnel vision is to try to incorporate a balanced sense of perspective into your work: what do you want and need to say, and what would other people — both in similar and dissimilar life situations to you — want to see, and what good purpose does it serve?

@toriphile81: Organizing your time, do you write in order or random chapters, any tools you use

You organize your time by just doing it (thanks, Nike). Your schedule falls into place as you keep your priorities in order and execute on the vision or dream that has driven you to start working on your project in the first place.

I used a loose outline for chapter order (18 chapters broken in to 3 parts), each chapter’s title, and brief points or “takeaways” that I would want to reader to learn in each part of the book. I vary note-taking between Microsoft Word and writing by hand.

@dustiarab: Writing through writer’s block.

My writer’s block (which I usually hesitate from admitting exists… for me, it’s just a general writing malaise/frustration) usually comes in the form of ideas not flowing smoothly into one another. I became most frustrated by the chapter breakdown into three book parts — some things just didn’t seem right, until getting an “aha!” moment and being able to rearrange things into a flowing order.

@libbycrews: how do you deal w/ the days u just don’t feel like writing/revising?

Depends on the urgency of the task at hand. Off days, like the early days of writing, I took time to think and reflect outdoors. Other days, reading helped inspired me to write.

But when it was crunch time, you just simply can’t allow a mood to throw your schedule off. I mix in a variety of music, good coffee, and other simple comforts to give me a quick moral boost and help the writing flow.

@liveurlove: 84 days? isn’t that a bit toooooo long?

I wish it was sooner, but sometimes you can’t “force a project to completion, [or you] spoil what was almost ripe.” :)

@derekhalpern: if you can’t write a blog post, how can you write a book in 2.5 months? (yes, I’m teasing :-D)

Dude, I’m burnt out!! :)

@cosminsky: How do you get past the pages that stop you dead in your tracks?

Pages were never really a problem. Some chapters didn’t seem right. In that case, editing the chapter title itself, chopping up sections and sub-chapters really seems to break the spell and stoke new life into the pages.

Brian Petro: Short cuts for writing and research.

Ah, short cuts. They’d be nice, wouldn’t they? The most direct routes are the fastest. Start writing. Do your research properly. Be patient, confident and determined. Make many backups. You’ll get where you need to go.

Kristin Lajeunesse: How to know when a chapter truly is good enough/finished.

You never know :) You can only trust that you’ve said what needs to be said– and, if you haven’t, go fix it! Jacob Sokol and I were just saying last week that art is never finished. You need to believe that you did it the best way that you possibly could have, and trust it enough to share with the world.

Lori Shea Finnigan: A timeline suggestion/guideline, such as Week 1 begin outline, Week 2, complete outline and first draft of Chapters 1,2, 3… throughout the 84 days.

This would’ve been best answered if I kept a timeline– but I don’t even know when I officially started writing! My timeline was “As soon as possible,” and I changed my schedule and expectations according to how the writing was panning out. I was (and still am) flying fast and loose.

Don’t get hamstrung and burdened by schedules… they lure you into a feeling of safety, but almost always cause more problems than they’re worth.

Rebecca Taylor Little: What agent would take on a book that short assuming it’s fiction? ;)

It’s nonfiction, and, I’m self-publishing! Carpe freedom! Think a traditional publishing house could turn around a galactic best-seller in under 3 months?! Hell no ;)

Hannah Sherwood: How to structure the book well so it flows, makes sense and offers value and quality for the reader; How to edit well without re-writing the whole damn thing; How to know when enough is enough?

Loaded questions! They could be written about forever :) It’s part trust, part confidence and faith in your abilities, part never-ever-being-able-to-know, part risking total rejection and abject failure. Art requires these things, and they cannot ever be avoided.

The match is lit. It’s go time, my friends.

Let’s rock n’ roll!

PS: this book is not just about me. It’s really about you.

And there’s a lot of other people helping me out.

Thankfully, I’ve got an awesome team who is responsible for getting this book into your hands. You’ll be introduced to them all very soon.

One of those team members is the wonderful and talented Amy Schmittauer, who will be helping me with PR and marketing as we kick things into overdrive for the next few weeks. Check out her blog, and watch this video to get to know her a bit better. I’ll be properly introducing you to her very soon!

PPS: Lead Without Followers on Facebook here. Subscribe to the blog by email here. Rock onward.

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