These last six weeks I tested whether I could write a nonfiction ebook in 21 days. I wanted to summarize my findings in a Year of Living Productively in ebook form and used the ebook by Steve Scott to do so as described in my last post. While I was working, I shared some amazing guest posts with you that I felt added to my investigations. They are listed at the end of this post.
How Writing an Ebook This Way Saved My Sanity
- Gave me the opportunity to assess the past year. I have learned so much doing these experiments and writing about them. If I hadn’t worked on an ebook, I don’t know that I would have gleaned as much as I did from the process.
- Enabled me to quickly outline a book. Steve Scott’s approach to outlining a nonfiction ebook is a good one. I really enjoyed using note cards to do it — something I haven’t used in writing for years. My outline was finished right on time.
- Enabled me to quickly write a first draft. Steve’s admonition to write quickly got me into a Nanowrimo frame of mind and I was able to produce the first draft in a little more than 8 hours.
How Writing an Ebook This Way Made Me Crazy
- Required too much time. Steve Scott recommends writing for two hours a day to finish the book in 21 days. I thought I would have more than enough time to start the book before I left for vacation the second week of January. Not so much. Then I thought I would have plenty of time to write on vacation. I did have some time, but not nearly the amount I anticipated. I planned to write the book in a two-hour time block each evening when I returned. When that didn’t work, I gave up, rather than using the little-and-often approach that had worked so well for me. I also struggled to find the time for editing the book because…
- I was confused about my purpose. Steve suggests writing to answer people’s questions, but that felt like I was writing this book to tell people how to be productive. That’s the opposite of my purpose in writing this series! Once I figured that out, I was able to finish the first draft. But I was still confused. I wondered if the book would really be valuable to readers. I wondered if it was worth putting on Amazon, instead of just making it a blog freebie. I wondered if it was worth the sacrifice of time. And I wondered if I could really do the book justice in just 21 days. Now I wonder if I had written a weekly update during the process if I would have gotten more clarity.
- I had competing priorities. I foolishly over-committed these past weeks and tried to write the ebook while going on vacation, starting a new weekly series on organization for homeschoolers, and more stuff that would just bore you (you may be thinking “too late!”). I had to reread a post I wrote on the high cost of over-commitment and how to avoid it. I realized that I succeeded writing 50,000 words in a month for Nanowrimo when it was my only extra commitment. Throw in a lot of unexpected and emotional events this month and I’m amazed I finished the first draft. That’s as far as I got.
Can I really write a nonfiction ebook in 21 days?
I don’t know. If I had invested the full 42 hours, I could answer that question, but I didn’t. I really wanted to, but if I had been miserable pushing myself to get the book done, I don’t think it would have been as helpful as honestly telling you that I couldn’t do it. At least not this last month.
The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using Going Forward
I am going to finish the ebook using Little and Often. I want to finish the book because I think I will get a deeper understanding of how I work best as I refine it. I also want to bring closure to this series for faithful readers. I will still work through the steps that Steve Scott clearly explains, but I am not going to block time and promise it on a deadline. I have succeeded using writing deadlines in the past, but I am experiencing some obligation-based procrastination now. I think it will be interesting to see how long it takes to finish the book using little and often. Of course, I will post to let you know when the book is available!
Following the publication of the book, I will be posting about productivity hacks, books, apps, or ideas that catch my fancy as I’m inspired. Originally, I thought I would do that weekly. But one of the important things I learned from trying to finish this ebook is not to obligate myself to too much. I love the friends I’ve made through this series, but I love my family more. That’s as it should be.
If you’d like to join me going forward, here’s what you do. Write your ebook using a Little-and-Often approach. Keep reading, trying new things, and sharing what you learn about yourself with others. I would love to hear about what’s working for you!
I made the very difficult choice NOT to write a productivity ebook, not because I couldn’t, but because I was putting off what I REALLY wanted to do until I wrote the ebook. Instead, I am close to publishing my dream book–a language arts curriculum for elementary students. As an alternative, I’ve created a landing page and updates for all the productivity posts I’ve written. My desire is that this series benefits you the way it has me.
I have written and spoken about what I’ve learned in this series here:
Productivity Posts That Followed the Series
The posts in A Year of Living Productively: