Ninety (90) days is a generous time frame to write a great business book. And the faster you write it, the better it will be.

Most would-be authors don’t believe me when I tell them they can write a book in 90 days. Three years sounds more realistic to their ears. They are tempted to believe me, but they have a niggling suspicion that keeps undermining their belief – it wouldn’t be a book worth reading. How could it be a quality book?

I got this bit wrong

I felt pretty arrogant about writing a book. I thought that after 16 years in journalism, writing a book would be easy. But then I found myself putting it off and putting it off. Finally, I set myself a quest to write 50,000 words in 50 days. I got up at 5am every morning and wrote 1000 words. It was pretty exhausting. The result? An unstructured pile of rubbish. I couldn’t believe it – a complete waste of time. And I have never published it.

The lesson? It’s not just a matter of writing fast; it’s a matter of writing in a structured, clear and focused way. That’s an important distinction. Write fast, write with focus and write with a clear structure.

Pace and structure

Writing is 99% momentum. That is right. The more you write, the better you will write. That is one reason why if you write your business book in 90 days it will be great. Momentum is on your side.

Building momentum will improve your writing, but it won’t lead to a book unless you have the right structure for your book. This blog is actually an example of a great structure. It’s the very same structure that I provide for my clients to write their book in 90 days. A big part of my program is helping my clients approach their book in a structured way.

They start by getting focused and re-energised on their topic and audience, then they get into the creative process, and then they start letting go. Letting go of their book, of their expectations of people’s reactions, of their own expectations and doubts. Letting go is the secret of getting your book done in 90 days.

Your time starts now

Your business book is a powerful way to open doors to new opportunities, and to build your authority as an expert. But why spend one second more writing your business book than need be. If the writing process is a painful one — slow and torturous – the chances are that you will not write a new book very often. And that would be a great pity. Your second book will be better than your first. And your tenth? That will be mind-blowing.

Digital publishing means that writing and publishing a book is now so accessible that your clients really expect you to have done so. Of course, you can choose not to, but if you do, someone else who serves your market will write one. And suddenly, they become the expert in your field and you are playing catchup.

Writing doesn’t matter (much)

Here’s a dirty little secret. The ability to write is not the most important skill when it comes to writing a book. It’s heretical for a writer to say so, I know. But it’s the truth. I realised this soon after I joined Fairfax as a business journalist; several of my colleagues did not write that well. Great writers and editors are actually pretty common – there is always someone who can fix up your work if it’s not great.

How did they get away with having average writing skills? They realised that there are at least five more important talents when it comes to a professional writing career. They are:

  1. Meeting the deadline
  2. Having a great idea/story
  3. Being relevant to the readership
  4. Currency (what everyone wants to know now)
  5. Accuracy – they got the facts right
  6. Writing – starting at the most exciting bit (the lead)

Many people get put off writing their book because they feel their writing is not good enough. Even if they do write, they struggle and wrestle with it because they believe that writing is so important.

Once I explain that the quality of writing is not the most important thing – actually getting the book done is the most important thing – this takes the pressure off, and writing comes more naturally, transforming the experience. Writing doesn’t have to be excruciating. It doesn’t have to eat into your sleeping or family time. You can really enjoy writing EVEN if you are not a professional writer.

But hang on – didn’t I say at the beginning of this blog that you can write a great book? Am I now saying that it doesn’t have to be great?

Well, the answer to that is yes and no (the answer to all the best questions). If you are clear about your audience, if your idea is current and your facts are accurate, all you need to do is write a second draft, applying a simple review process, and your expression will be fine. Most of us are way too hard on ourselves. Our inner critic is a tyrant.

Why some authors make it and some do not

Not only will you write a great book in 90 days, you will write a better book than if you take 365 days or 1000 days. Holding your published book in your hands is a real endorphin hit. You’ll be full of energy and ready to write your next book.

The difference between those would be authors who get their books written and those who don’t is this: They commit to finish. Christina Guidotti, author of The True Believers, says committing to finish is the mindset of the True Believer. I’m right behind her on that point. It was only when I committed to finish my first book that I got it published.    

If you take that first step and you commit to finish, you are on the path to being an author. Now the only question is whether you will take 90 days or 1000.

So, let’s be clear: a quick book is a great book. Once you understand that you can write a book of outstanding quality in 90 days (or less), you will receive the world’s most valuable gift: time. Imagine the timeline that you think is necessary to write a book. Let’s say 12 months. Once you learn how to write a book in 90 days, you have immediately saved nine months of your time. How valuable is that to you, to your family, your bank balance, your clients, your health and your sanity.

PS: Want more? You might like: How to handle criticism of your book