Challenge yourself and Believe: You Can. #SmashYourCeiling – crazy diary recap
Have you ever dreamt of writing and publishing a book? Have you always thought this was impossible or difficult? Then, read on, it is not as hard as you imagine.
I’m not an authority (yet) on writing books, but I have just written and self-published (with Amazon KDP) a book that is doing quite well on Amazon (e.g. is selling and with excellent reviews).
So, how did I do it? I looked for people who have written books before in a short period, and here I am.
Why a short period? In the 4 Hour Work Week Tim Ferris talks about Pareto Law ( the 80/20 rule) and the Parkinson’s Law. “A task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.” These two laws are synergistic: only do the 20% to shorten the time, so you focus on the 20%.
So with these principles in mind, I looked amongst people who have done it before. Actual examples of real people and I liked Simon Coulson (I have met him at The Business Show and been to one of his training workshops) who researched and wrote his first book in 60 hours (around two weeks) and Matt Lloyd.
I particularly like two examples from Matt on how he produced his first information product and then wrote his book Limitless (his podcast about procrastination and holding yourself accountable is brilliant).
So what did he do? He declared to the world and put out for sale a seven-day webinar with dates. But wait…. without having written a slide. The webinar started selling like crazy, and he found himself writing the slides for the first day 1 hour before the webinar was meant to go live (Parkinson’s law in action). And the same happened each night. At the end of the seven days, voila, he had his first information product ready.
Even better, when he wanted to write his book, he booked himself in a hotel for a weekend, asked for NO WiFi, and wrote for 30 hours straight in 1-hour batches, and that’s how Limitless was born.
I found that I operate the same. When deadlines are looming, that’s where I produce my best and effortless work. If I have more time, I’m bored.
The Law of Attraction says that you need to follow it when inspiration strikes, and I did. So I booked a weekend in a hotel in London and doing “a Matt”.
It sounds crazy as I live in London but, you know how it is. At home, there are endless interruptions, distractions and coffee after coffee. The day has gone by, and you have written NOTHING.
I’m the Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel starting my diary and feeling very much like a writer (don’t laugh…) and will continue and record this journey of writing and publishing my first book up to launch day. I have never written a diary in my life. Still, yesterday I announced on Instagram (and Facebook) that I am finally getting on with writing THAT book that has been in my mind so long. You see, I have procrastinated long enough that it now feels like War & Peace (in my mind, I do have a fertile imagination). I didn’t just declare I would write a book, but I also released the publishing date (22 September 2017). Now, if I don’t do it, I will look like a p****.
What possessed me to make such a public declaration? To quote Steve Harvey, “I got tired of being sick and tired …”.
What is the book all about then?
As you might have seen from the interview series #TheWomanAlchemist #smashthatceiling, I am very passionate about inspiring and empowering women to overcome obstacles they are facing on their way to the top leadership jobs starting from themselves and providing visible leadership role models with my interviews.
Well, the book I want to write is all about taking ownership of your career, your life and defining your own rules. This is a no-nonsense practical guide on how to achieve those coveted positions if that’s what you want. It will tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you’d like to hear.
It’s all in your head – Smash Your Ceiling to Smash That Ceiling!
The title: “STOP IT! It is all in your head”.
It is the end of my writing “away’ weekend: so did it work? Was I able to write an entire book like Matt Lloyd and his Limitless in 30 hours? Mmmm, non…
I was, however, able to write a complete outline of the book and turn my outline into a blueprint. AND even better, I was able to free-write many chapters. I have realized, though, that I’m far more productive and creative when writing away from home. So, although spending every one of my weekends in hotels is not realistic, I can find some coffee shops where I can park my self so to speak and get the juices going.
There is nothing better for beating procrastination than public accountability. Since starting writing the diary, I made sure I recorded some real progress for the book every day, writing and editing when instead it would be so easy just to let life get in the way. The fact that I have to tell people is an excellent keep-on-track tool.
I made a journo request on Twitter a few weeks ago for women in business/entrepreneurs to share their stories with the world, and I had a great response.
I have published three of these interviews and will post another four on my blog up to the book release (22 September ). But most of all, these interviews make great material for the book.
So today was all about writing introductions and including them in the book and, of course, making sure everyone is more than happy to appear in the book. Plus, I’m feeling pleased as I can see the book growing and starting to look the part 🙂
Day 4 :
We, I included, are conditioned into the 9-5 culture/working pattern and tend to adopt the same schedule whether or not it is a suitable and proficient one for us. Irrespectively of the profession (entrepreneurs/self-employed / bloggers and writers).
I found myself feeling like “I had to” start working and put my butt in the chair in the morning. Like there is a written in stone working day/time – even though I’m much better at night and the words don’t flow…
So on day 4, I said sod it. Instead, I read and watched television (actually re-watched Games of Thrones previous series) and started freewriting in the afternoon sooner than I knew I had written pages.
Creativity in action, this time visual: designing the front and back cover of the book.
So many things to take into consideration like personal branding, book message and branding, what colours are more representative of the message, and the most popular colours for the book. Fascinating work!!
Plus, of course, some writing…
I have to say I found the process of recording my progress in a public diary useful to keep me on track and a way to look back and patting myself on the back as I’m moving the book along. I don’t think people spend enough time celebrating the small daily victories, I certainly didn’t use to, and I love it.
I was bored, bored, bored. No glamorous activities or writing but chasing the people I’ve interviewed. Lots of hunting, lots of people you see… plus recording and editing the interviews involving spreadsheet work. And that is all I have to say….. Riveting.
Editing day – both the interviews for the book (doing the work in batches) and free writing.
Free-writing is liberating and allows no censorship, just pouring all your ideas on paper (incidentally, I have tried freewriting on the computer and paper, and I prefer freehand). No checking of grammar, punctuation and so on, but I suppose if I want people to be able to read the book and remotely understand what I’m trying to say, some structure in the sentences is necessary …;-p
And on the weekend, I will be experimenting with a social media detox – meaning no blogging, no Twitter, no Instagram, and so on. But I am still accountable, of course, most of all to myself. I owe myself to be the best I can be and live up to my dreams and expectations. I believe, though, that spending even one day (or more if you can) away from social media can be one of the best things to do as a mindfulness fix – to support sound and positive mental health – and so on…
Taking time off from social media (and from work, to be fair) and just enjoying an entire weekend doing whatever I felt the inspiration taking me was terrific. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t have to remember to take pictures or tweet, retweet, and so on, was liberating. I highly recommend it :-).
Switching off and having fun is actually fun (pardon the pun).
So what about my writing? After all, I started this diary to keep me accountable and ensure I would write every day…
And I did. I carried a notebook with me, and every time I had an idea and felt the impulse, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote…. pages of unadulterated freewriting.
I think I’m going to continue to carry a notebook with me for this purpose. And on Day 10, I edited it all: it took me some time to be fair. I needed to decipher my handwriting and insert it in the appropriate chapter/s of the book. So happy day/s:-)
This is the first time I have kept a diary/journal; I have always avoided this; I tried once or twice previously but always gave up…
So what did I do writing-wise today (I’m sure you don’t want to know about my endless cups of coffee and Instagram posts)? Well, Day 11 was a lot of research – after all the free writing at the weekend, I needed to double-check some dates, facts, and figures. And make sure that all the information is credited where it needs to be.
Yes, ensuring that credit is given when due and there are no copyright infringements is paramount.
I must have also been emanating the right vibrations because I heard and saw inspirations for the book and other related products and follow-ups everywhere I turned. Like attracts like, you get what you focus on 🙂
Review, formatting, and some editing.
The idea that a book magically appears and you, the writer, only have to be creative is BS.
It is all about creative control and ownership though, Love it…
It was a fun day. Thankfully, it wasn’t Friday the 13th ;-)…
Around midnight, and all through the night, the fire alarm kept going off in my building – just the alarm, no actual fire. But it kept going off regularly every half hour. Then every hour and so on, aaaaaall night. Yes, that’s right.
The fire brigade would not come to silence the alarm, and the out-of-hour engineer was a few hours away and couldn’t fix it anyway. So that was my night. You can imagine how awake I was in the morning: my first instincts were to go to sleep. However, I was due to go out for a meeting and was expecting phone calls for my business, so that option was out. I tried gallons of coffee (a tad more than my usual), but I couldn’t concentrate on writing, so I chilled and watched TV, did my calls, and the meeting.
I was determined to write something, though, so I put some time on free handwriting for at least an hour, determined to finish and publish this book for 22 September, and so it will be.
Day 14 was a lot of fun planning the book party/launch with my event organizer/manager: the theme, venue, order of the day, marketing, discounts, and guest speakers.
There was not much writing I have to say, but I have a plan, a campaign, and agreed dates for the book pre-sale with a list of things that need doing. I was thrilled with how everything is progressing so far. Happy days 🙂
More than halfway through and planning to put the book on pre-sale. I’m soooo excited by the possibilities …
A very productive day. I managed to insert all the interviews I have done for the book, plus choosing all the pictures that will appear in the book AND some free writing for a couple of chapters.
Mindset is everything – it is incredible what every one of us can do once we finally decide that we can.
“Believe in yourself. You can”
The book is almost finished, and now it is all about formatting, editing, and some research to double-check some facts.
An intense day finishing off and approving the design for the book cover, plus registering/filling in the documentation for the appropriate taxation. As a UK author, I need to make sure I don’t end up double-paying my taxes worldwide. I mean, I need to do my civic duty, but double-paying seems too much…
Oops, I didn’t keep the diary yesterday…
So, what did I do? First, I can say that I am very prolific when I do my writing in any location but the house. This is because there are too many distractions in the home and other stuff that needs doing.
Outside (I am a coffee shop connoisseur now), it is just me, the laptop, and an A4 Pad of paper and pens, and that’s it. I don’t even connect to the WiFi, which means uninterrupted writing/re-writing and so on…
I need to remember to keep ordering drinks. It is easy to get absorbed and forget, which means little hydration but also slightly irritated baristas. They run a business, after all, not a free office ).
I didn’t write (the diary) for now four days.
Yes, life got in the way together with my day-to-day business/meetings etc., etc. But, I need to be honest here as we are talking about accountability. I simply didn’t fancy it.
And that is ok too.
Too many times, we are so hard on ourselves on why we haven’t done something ( guilt and beating yourself up don’t help at all). As a result, we lose perspective of the bigger goal/purpose of it all. For me is to finish and then publish my book (incidentally, I did write and progress the book even though I didn’t keep the diary…).
Day 25- 27:
I have finished it !!!! 🙂
So happy with myself that I have written a book in less than 30 days :-). Now is the publishing bit to do, mmmm..
I have been naughty again and not kept THE diary.
Whilst waiting for my proof copy of the paperback and with the kindle edition out on pre-order, now it was the time to focus on the book launch and tour. How exciting is that?
With the book ready and available on pre-order on Kindle edition, it was time for all the marketing & social media related activities.
I chose 22 September to celebrate International Business Women Day (US) for the official release date. I thought it would be a fitting tribute. The book is all about helping women overcome obstacles they face on their way to the top leadership jobs, taking ownership of their careers and life, and defining their own rules in a no-nonsense practical guide format.
It’s all in your head – Smash Your Ceiling to Smash That Ceiling!
As you can see, keeping a diary was never my forte…
Soo happy I received the proof copy of the paperback, which looked fabulous. Just a couple of things to correct but overall super pleased with the result.
Social media/ marketing is looking like a lot more work than the actual writing of the book. Or at least that’s how it felt… I wish I had started it earlier.
I managed to published my book both in paperback and on Kindle edition just in time for Business Women’s Day, my pre-set deadline.
STOP IT! It’s all in your head is my labour of love and my way to encourage, inspire and empower women to achieve what they want professionally and not be confined by societal, religious, family paradigms of what “women should do/are like”. And, most importantly, the restrictions in their head.
If that is being CEO of a Global Company or a stay-at-mum or Director of Paperclip (whatever grabs your fancy), so be it.
Writing this book was also a personal challenge (the 30 days thingy) which confirmed to me once and for all that you can do whatever you set your mind to if you want to, that is.
A couple of tips for writing a book from me:
- Write about what you are passionate about. You know more than you think
- Free-write about the parts/chapters in the book you like the most and are most interested in first. That will give you a significant boost at the beginning. You can edit and add the boring bits later – by then, most of the book will be almost there
- Keep your voice – write as you speak, so to speak (people do need to understand you, though..)
- Keep an open mind. Ideas will flow into you mid-way through the project
- A deadline and going public are appropriate tools to beat procrastination. But, if that stresses you too much, don’t do it. The deadline certainly helped me
- Start with your marketing/social media plan ahead or at least in parallel.
I’m so excited about this book, and I genuinely hope you will like it. I hope to meet you soon, in person or through the pages of my book.
Believe in Yourself. You Can Do, Be and Have Anything You Want.