How to write a book in 18 days or How to Make Your Dreams Come True!

Hello Lovelies, ok I know that not all of you want to write a book, let alone in 18 days, but this post by guest writer Kelly Exeter is about much more than putting your thoughts onto paper.

It’s more about * Not Procrastinating * and *Going After Your Dreams*.

Now whether that does involve writing a book – perhaps spilling the beans about the family history. (Disconnected. A Memoir) for the grandies to devour one day, or whether it’s to travel the world before your joints get too creaky (as mine have started to do), or whether it’s to lose weight, start exercising, whatever … Kelly suggests tips and ways to make things happen NOW.

Are you like me, guilty of putting things off? I’ll check out Facebook when I should be watering the garden, or I’ll answer emails instead of getting my head around the next post for Lifestyle Fifty. I know it’s important to seize the moment and make time to do things despite leading a busy life because time doesn’t expand, not even when the kids are grown up, not even when you’re retired. But, ahem, I don’t always heed that advice!

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This helpful and entertaining post by gorgeous Kelly, above, is so much more than about writing a book, but since she’s written one, and in only 18 days to boot, these are the strategies she employed to Just Get It Done.

So don’t die wondering. Find ways to get out and do what you want to do with the rest of this time you have left on this earth and read Kelly’s words of wisdom on the subject too.

Don’t sit around dreaming – just do it! Over to you Kelly …

How to write a book in 18 days

I’m a big believer in synchronicity – I believe it’s the universe’s way of sending me a message.

Late last year a few synchronous things happened to send me a big message.

First I read Matthew Michalewicz’s book Life in Half a Second. Apart from providing a wonderful blueprint for success:

Clarity > Desire > Belief > Knowledge > Action

what I also noticed (and enjoyed) about his book was that it was only as long as it needed to be.

I’d been wanting to write a book for ages but was a bit put off by the fact that I’d started reading, but not finished SO many self-help/inspirational type books recently. And the main reason I hadn’t finished them is because they seemed to contain a lot of padding (I assume to get them to the length publishers needed them to be). I just can’t read padding – it drives me nuts.

Matthew’s book is relatively short and made me realise that (given I wanted to self-publish), I didn’t have to meet any kind of publisher mandated word length requirements. I could make my book exactly as long as it needed to be.

The second synchronous thing was this book popping up in my Twitter feed. I immediately devoured its core message that if you’re a writer who is willing to work hard, write lots of books and engage authentically with your audience, then you could actually make some kind of living from this writing game. Even better you could do it by taking your destiny into your own hands rather than spending years waiting for someone to pick you.

In other words: write your book and publish it on Amazon already. Just get it out there.

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Kelly designs awesome manifestos too. Here’s one on “Getting What You Want.”

The third synchronous thing was an idea that wouldn’t stop nagging at me.

A lot of people I knew were having really shitty years in 2013. Having experienced some shitty years myself, I’ve developed certain ways of looking at things that allow me to walk around with a smile on my face even when life is taking the piss. I really wanted to share these ideas in a book. And If I was going to do it, it needed to be ‘now’as the new year was on the horizon.

So the universe was telling me loud and clear: Write a book Kelly. Write it NOW.

So I did. And strangely the fourth synchronous thing associated with the book happened after the fact. I heard it said in a podcast and it floored me for the fact that it neatly summarised the exact approach I took.

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So here it is – here’s how I wrote my book in 18 days.

1. I simplified my life

I didn’t start the book till my business had shut down for the Christmas break. I now had two weeks where clients wouldn’t be emailing me and I didn’t have any work to do. It was also a time of year that most people took a break from blogging so I didn’t feel the need to split my brain trying to come up with words for more than one writing project.

2. I applied myself like it really mattered.

This wasn’t hard – because I’d committed myself to a firm deadline. My editor was expecting 12,000+ words on 3rd January. That gave me 12 days to write and self-edit the first draft. So I broke things down – 8 chapters plus an introduction … 1000-2000 words per chapter.

I wrote the book outline on 24th December and then gave myself Christmas Day off. Then each night for the next eight days, I did the research for a section, then the next morning I would write that section. I tried not to write during the day in order to give my brain a rest and also to spend time with my family (because in theory, we were on holidays!) But I was thinking about the book all the time and figuring out ways to improve things. By January 2nd I had a first draft. By January 3rd I had an edited first draft that I gratefully deposited in the hands of my editor.

By January 6th I had that draft back and it was time to do some final editing and design the advance copy of the book. By January 11th I did the final final edit and the book was done, ready to put in the hands of advance readers.

Those 18 days were pretty exhausting and of course by this time I’dreturned to work and didn’t feel like I’d actually had any time off at Christmas.

But it was a small price to pay.

On January 23rd I pressed ‘publish’ on my first book on Amazon. I expect to publish another later this year. And another early next year.

I think a lot of us spend a lot of time sitting around, dreaming and hoping that one day we’ll have the time to achieve our dreams. To do the things on our bucket list.

Don’t sit around dreaming.

As you can see,I’m the not the sitting around dreaming type. If the universe is pushing me in a certain direction, I don’t agonise too much or wring my hands at the lack of time I have, I just find the time and go for it.

If the universe is wrong and the thing I’m trying is not going to work out, I want to fail fast so I can move on to the next thing.

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So here are my three big tips for being someone who won’t die wondering:

  1. Stop worrying about what other people think.Because, for the most part, people aren’t thinking anything about you, they’re too busy thinking about themselves! And if people ARE thinking about you … who really cares? What other people think about you is none of your business.
  2. Stop fearing failure. Think to yourself ‘what’s the best that can happen’ instead of ‘what’s the worst that can happen’. I’d much rather try something and fail, and be able to look back and think ‘well I tried’ than look back with the regret that comes from never having given a dream a go.
  3. Do it for yourself. We spend a lot of time living up to the expectations of others and trying to achieve the things other people think we should. This is a crappy reason to do anything. Go after the goals your heart desires because there is nothing more energising in life than going after something with your whole heart. It is supremely scary, but incredibly rewarding.

Thank you Kelly! So Lifestylers, why not commit to doing something significant this year and tell us in the comments – What Are You Going to Just Get Up and DO or GET DONE in 2014?

Mother, runner, writer, blogger. Serial over-committer. Kelly Exeter believes a busy life need not be a stressful life. She blogs about embracing the busy by living intentionally at A Life Less Frantic. Her new book ‘Your Best Year Yet – 7 simple ways to shift your thinking and take charge of your life’ is now available on Amazon here.


  1. Sometimes we all need a prod to get up and do something that we’ve been meaning to do. I want to lose some weight this year. So I’m going to commit to some lifestyle goals and just do it! Thank you for the inspiration and good luck with your book sales Kelly!

  2. If I set any more goals for myself, I’ll need to live until one hundred and twenty five!!! My blog has become my book. My goal is to print all the post’s stories and pictures, compile them and have this printed. I’m not sure if anyone else would be interested in this book other than my family, but this is one of my most important goals.
    Today I finished a goal of being on a television show (3rd time) to show the viewers how to have as much fun as I am living this world as a retiree.

  3. [email protected] says:

    I’m very impressed with Kelly’s commitment to writing. It often takes me 12 days to write a blog post! I really must learn from her tips!

    • Hi Jenny! Yes, Kelly’s productivity is something that I can learn from too! She is a dynamo 🙂 Your blog posts thought are wonderful … mini travel books, and lots of lovely photos so I’m not surprised that they take up to 12 days.

    • Hey Jenny – sometimes it takes me 12 days to write a blog post too! But with the book – I had limited time to make it happen which helped me focus! I couldn’t do this every time though!

  4. well I really need to take a leaf out of this lady’s book and get moving! Who really wants to waste life doing something that isn’t making them happy? I also need to take a leaf out of your book, Jo, you plan, you put it into action, and you do!
    Thanks Jo & Kelly for another fabulous post.

    • Kelly is amazing isn’t she Jill 🙂 But you are too – I think you’re pretty good at planning and putting into action with your incredible camping expeditions – it takes skill to organise that and have the gumption to get out into the bush and then come back and report on it all with beautiful words and photos.

    • Thanks so much Jill 🙂

  5. ps Jo – I hope you are going to get on and finish your book!

  6. What an inspiring post! I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for introducing me to Kelly 🙂

  7. Yep sometimes it is hard just getting the inspiration to put pen to paper. I can procrastinate for weeks and months sometimes which is truly frustrating. My mum always said “don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today”, Very wise words indeed.

    • Hi Kathy, yes I can hear those words ringing in my head with my Mum’s voice attached to them too 🙂

    • It’s situations like these Kathy where the ‘just start’ mantra kicks it. The hardest part is getting those first words down on paper. So set yourself a time to do that .. and you’ll be surprised how quickly and easily everything flows from there 🙂

  8. What fabulous inspirational tips! While I’m not planning on writing a book anytime in the super near future, one thing high on my priority list is to conquer another language. I’m going to apply these tips to that, thanks!

  9. Hi Kelly and Jo,

    Well I just shelved my write a book plan. Mainly because I can’t face spending a year at it! But 18 days sounds doable – Kelly, you’re a legend, I’ve just bought a copy and I look forward to reading it 🙂

    • Unshelve it Annabel!

      The next book I write I am thinking of going away for 4 days and writing the first draft all in those 4 days. I seem to operate well under ‘make it happen in a short space of time’ pressure!

      And thank you so much for buying the book. I hope you will let me know what you think of it xx

    • So glad you’ve bought Kelly’s book Annabel and I think you should get to it and write yours too! Kelly, you’re always welcome to come here for four days as a sort of retreat 🙂

  10. Hi Jo, I’m in my 30s so don’t really fit into your blog’s age group profile but I’ve enjoyed reading your post just the same. Kelly is very inspirational. And I’m with her on the padding.

    • Thanks Angel! Some topics just cross all the age ranges, push through generation barriers and apply to everyone don’t they! I hope you come back again … I try to include lots of them 🙂

  11. Hi Jo & Kelly,
    This is a great post, thank you. My first book was published last year and took much longer than 18 days to write. I’m now working on my second novel and this post has really inspired me to focus on getting the first draft down, rather than trying to resolve small details before I start writing in earnest. There’ll be time enough for that at the editing stage after all. Thanks again!

    • Hello Persephone, So glad that you found Kelly’s post helpful. I can imagine a novel wold take longer than 18 days. Good luck with your second one 🙂

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