What is the best way to write a book in 30 days?

  • By The Alchemist About Town
  • 13 Nov, 2017

Challenge yourself and Believe: You Can. #SmashYourCeiling

Have you ever dreamt of writing and publishing a book? Have you always thought this was impossible or really 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 CreateSpace ) a book which is doing quite well on Amazon (e.g. is selling and with nice reviews). So, how I did I do it?

I looked for people who have written books before in a short period of time and here I am.
Why a short period of time?

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 time, and shorten time so you focus on the 20%.

So with this principles in mind I looked amongst people who have done it before, but closer to home so to speak, real examples with real people and I liked Simon Coulson ( I have met him at The Business Show and been to one of his training workshop) who researched and wrote his first book in 60 hours ( around 2 weeks) and Matt Lloyd ( MOBE ).
I particularly like 2 examples from Matt on how he produced his first information product and then how he 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 7 days 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 7 days, voila , he had his first information product ready.

Even better, when he wanted to write his book, he booked himself in an 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 when inspiration strikes you need to follow it and I did; I booked a weekend in an hotel in London and doing "a Matt".
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.

Day 1:
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 but 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 but 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 am going to write a book but I also released the publishing date (22 September 2017)... now if I don't do it I am going to 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 form themselves, and providing visible leadership role models with my interviews.
Well, the book I want to write  is all about taking ownership of your own career, your life and define your own rules. This is a no-nonsense practical guide on how to achieve those coveted positions, if that's what you really want - it will tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you;d like to hear.
It's all in you head - Smash Your Ceiling to Smash That Ceiling!

The title : "STOP IT! It is all in your head" .

Day 2:  
It is the end of my writing "away' weekend: so did it work? Was I able to writing a full book like Matt Lloyd and his Limitless in 30 hours? Mmmmhhh, non...

I was however able to write a full outline of the book and turn my outline into a blueprint AND , even better, was able to free-write many chapters. I have definitely realised though that I'm far more productive and creative when writing away from home so, although spending each and everyone of my weekends in hotels is not realistic , I can definitely find some coffee shops where I can park my self so to speak and get the juices going.

Day 3:
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 everyday, writing and editing when instead it would be so easy to just let life get in the way. The fact that I have to tell people is a great 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 marvellous response.
I published 3 of these interviews already and will be publishing another 4 here 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 very happy as I can see the book growing and starting to look the part :-)

Day 4 :
We, me 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/or proficient one for us, irrespectively of profession (entrepreneurs/self-employed / bloggers and/or 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 just don't flow...
So on day 4 I said sod it.... I read and watched television ( actually re-watched Games of Thrones previous series) and started free writing in the afternoon and sooner than I knew I had written pages.

Day 5:
Creativity in action, this time visual : designing  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 what are the most popular colours for books- 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'm loving it.

Day 6:
Bored, bored, bored: no glamours activities or writing but chasing the people I've interviewed , lots of  chasing, lots of people you see... plus recording and editing the interviews  involving spreadsheet work and that is all I have to say..... riveting....

Day 7:
Editing day -  both the interviews for the book ( doing the work in batches ) and the free writing.
Free-writing is liberating and allows no censorship, just pouring all your ideas on paper (incidentally I have tried both free writing on computer and on paper and I definitely prefer freehand), no checking of grammar, puntuaction 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 will be experimenting with a social media detox - meaning no blogging, no Twitter, no Instagram and so on. Still accountable of course, but most of all to myself: I owe to myself to be the best I can be and to live up to my dreams and expectations . I believe though that spending even one day (or more if you can) aways from social media can be one of the best things to do as a mindfulness fix - to support good and positive mental health - and so on...

Day 10:
Taking time off from social media (and from working to be fair) and just enjoying a full weekend doing whatever I felt the inspiration taking me was amazing. 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 everyday....
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 carry a notebook with me for this purpose. And on Day 10 I edited it all ( it took me sometime to be fair , I needed to decipher my handwriting ) and inserted in the appropriate chapter/s of the book - so happy day/s:-)

Day 11:
This is the first time in my life that I kept a diary/journal; I have always avoided this, tried once or twice previously but always gave up...
So what did I do today writing-wise ( 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 be.
Yes, ensuring that credit is given when due and there is no copyrights infringements is paramount.

I must have also been emanating the right vibrations because everywhere I turned I heard and saw inspirations for the book and other related products and follow ups. Like attracts like, you get what you focus on :-)

Day 12:
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...

Day 13:
It was a funny day... thankfully it wasn't Friday 13th ;-)....

Around midnight, and all through the night, the fire alarm kept going off in my building - no 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 was 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 just couldn't concentrate 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:
Day 14 was a lot of fun planning the book party/launch  with my event organiser/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 list of things that need doing and I was very happy with how everything is progressing so far . Happy days :-)

Day 15: 
More than halfway through and planning to put the book on pre-sale - soooo excited by the possibilities ...

Day 16:
A very productive day , managing 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 - is amazing what each and everyone of us is capable of doing once we finally decide that we can.
'Believe in yourself, You can"

Day 17:
Book almost finished and now is all about formatting , editing and some research to double check some facts.

Day 18:
An intense day finishing off and approving the design for the book cover and happy plus registering/filling in documentation for the appropriate taxation - as an 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...

Day 19 & 20
Oops , didn't keep the diary yesterday...
So, what did I do?

I can definitely say that I am very prolific when I do my writing on any location but the house .In the house there are too many distractions and other stuff that needs doing.
Outside the house (I am a coffee shop connessuer now) it is just me, the laptop and a 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 ).

Today no writing as I had quite a few meetings, happy nevertheless as I've managed to fix the date and venue for the book launch party which makes me even more determined, if that is possible .

Day 24:

 I didn't write ( the diary) for now 4 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) and we lose prospective 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...).
So here I am, at my desk and today I have been writing like crazy and I am super delighted with the result.

Day 25- 27:
I didn't keep a diary for the last two days - for a reason though.... I focused on the book and, you know what?
I have finished it !!!! :-)

The book is now out for proof-reading and editing and will be ready soon to be on PRE-SALE! That's right....
So happy with myself that I have actually written a book in less than 30 days :-)

Now is the publishing bit to do, mmmmm....

Day 28-33
I have been naughty again and not kept THE diary , I do have good news though:
the proof-reading was done and I did put the book on pre-order on Kindle whilst waiting to receive a physical copy of the book to double check it before release the book for sale on paperback.

Day 34
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?

Day 35-37
With the book ready and available on pre-order on Kindle edition it was now time for all the marketing & social media related activities.

For the official release date I chose 22 September to celebrate International Business Women Day (US) - I thought it would be a fitting tribute as the book is all about helping women overcome obstacles they are facing on their way to the top leadership jobs and taking ownership of own career, life and defining own rules, in a no-nonsense practical guide format.
It's all in you head - Smash Your Ceiling to Smash That Ceiling!

Day 38-39
As you can see, keeping a diary was never my forte....
Soo happy  I received the proof copy of the paperback which looked absolutely fabulous: just a couple of things to correct but overall super happy with the result.
The 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 started it earlier.
I managed to published my book both on 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 really do whatever you set your mind to, if you really want to that is.

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 you are most interested in first - that will give you a great 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 own 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 is good to beat procrastination ( but if that stresses you out 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

Laura x

The People Alchemist Blog

By The Alchemist About Town 23 Nov, 2017
There is nothing better than relaxing with a spot of lunch or dinner after some shopping and perhaps before the theatre ( I knoooow, so much lady who lunches...). Well if you are in Islington and enjoying the antique market and boutique shopping or are in to see a show,perhaps at the Almeida , then La Petite Auberge is for you.

I must admit I do have a penchant for french food which my previous reviews of La Ferme , Salut , Robuchon and Le Boudin Blanc   confirm. This is more of a rustic French resto but bang in the middle of Upper Street rather than in the French countryside . The place is traditional French exactly as the English would image it to be.

I love dining here - and often do.  The food is always good and very homely with generous portions and follows the French tradition of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients ( sample menu ). My super favourites are Cuisses de Grenouilles   (e.g. frog legs cooked in Calvados & cream) and the  Jarret d’agneau rôti  (roasted lamb shank cooked in Port,honey, balsamic vinegar & button onions, I normally skip the mash potato).
And to finish off a  Cafe Gourmand  after the  Selection de Fromages.  Happy days :-).

If you like, they also have an extensive Crêpe menu  with a selection of sweet, savoury and vegetarian crepes all freshly made.

You always feel so very welcome here and you can take your time, have long conversations - a little piece of France.
The staff is extremely friendly . It is particularly good for pre/post theatre as the Almeida is jut across the road. 

I love it here and it is definitely #MyBestMealIslington - Upper Street for November , a #mustgoto.
You're welcome ;-)

Laura xxx


Mon to Thurs: 11.30 - 23.00
Fri to Sat: 11.30 - 23.30
Sun: 11.30 - 22.30

By The Alchemist About Town 20 Nov, 2017

The International Women' Day pledge for 2017 was #BeBoldFor Change to create a more gender inclusive world, blah blah blah...... In 2016 it was # PledgeForParity to help women achieve their ambitions, blah blah blah........and 2018 will be #PressForProgress ,a call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. Blah blah blah...

"S TOP IT! It is all in your head"

Has anything actually changed?

We cannot deny that boardroom diversity is increasing although women still remain under-represented: if you are looking at top global companies  women in leadership represent  12% of total (depending on what research you are looking at).

Who does it better?

The highest percentages of women on boards can be found in the old continent with Norway ( 46.7% ), France ( 34.0% ), and Sweden ( 33.6% ) leading the way - source  Credit Suisse -  (in Europe equality between women and men was ingrained in the Treaty of Rome as one of the European Union's essential values over sixty years ago).

The percentage of women in FTSE 100 boardrooms rose to 26.1% in 2016  but the UK is still seventh across the main international stock markets.

According to recent research carried out at the BI Norwegian Business School by Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen and Professor Lars Glasø , women are better suited at leadership than men based on 5 personality traits, which can be measured for effective leadership ( after surveying more than 2,900 managers to ascertain leadership personality traits).

Women scored higher in:

  • Initiative and clear communication;
  • Openness and ability to innovate;
  • Sociability and supportiveness; and
  • Methodical management and goal setting.

 So, if women possess most of the qualities necessary to be a leader, what is stopping them? What are the barriers?

Cultural, religious and family paradigms have and are playing a part; sexism, misogyny and patriarchy and attitudes exist many times intertwined with other social and political aspects and ways of thinking (and by patriarchy I mean a system of power relationship between men and women where both men and women are complicit, benefiting specific kinds of gender and sexual identities over others).

Of course for women wishing to have children, there are also added barriers...

What is a "woman's place" then?

What a "woman's place"  is or seen to be has changed dramatically throughout history; women had and lost power at different times ( insert the cultural, religious subtext here).

You know what? It is time to STOP IT! Stop giving power to external forces and let them control your life.

Smash that ceiling and I mean the ceiling in your head, the only thing that is truly stopping you to achieve what you really really want. Time to adopt airlines' guidance - put on your own oxygen mask first and  #SmashYourCeiling!.

This is blog is an extract from my book "S TOP IT! It is all in your head" Part I: Blah, Blah, Blah.  To see how the book was developed/written : " What is the best way to write a book in 30 days"

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