What I Learned From Writing A Book In 22 Days
Last year I got an idea for a book. Four years before that moment, I started on a journey. I quit my job, returned to my family business, and started writing about everything I had learned.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I wanted more freedom. All my life, I felt unfree to do what I wanted. The weight of obligations held me back from living life on my own terms.
So when I finally realized that personal freedom was the thing I was after, I decided to write a book about it. And that’s immediately one of the most important lessons about doing work.
If you feel like you NEED to do something, you will often do good work. If I don’t have anything to share, I would never write a book. I’ve written several books. And I’ve only written them because I felt I had to.
It’s the same thing for most entrepreneurs, makers, creatives, or programmers. If you create something because you feel like you need to create that thing, you will do a good job.
But when you create something just to make a few bucks or to look cool, people won’t care. How many people have hired ghostwriters so they can say, “I have a book.” It’s worthless. No one cares about your ego.
Doing something hard like creating an app, building a business, writing a book, making art, you name it, requires serious effort. It’s a very humbling process. Every time I do something hard, I learn new things. My book might not be a NYT best-seller or win any awards. But that’s not why I write.
I write to learn. What you will find next is a list of things I’ve learned from writing my book, What It Takes To Be Free. I wrote the book in 22 straight days — all new content. Here we go:
- It takes a lot of energy — You need to be physically and mentally strong to do hard work because it takes a toll on you. Don’t start a big project before you feel like you can take it. Otherwise, you burn out.
- Routines improve your focus — Every day during the period I wrote was the same. I woke up at the same time, had a cup of coffee, turned on my computer, and started writing. I listen to the same album over and over again. This time, I listened to Crash Talk by Schoolboy Q. I like hip-hop and I like music with energy. It puts me in the right state of mind. I used the Pomodoro method to work. And I would generally write 2–3 hours a day. After that, I would catch up on other work and go to the gym. Evenings were for relaxing.
- Keep moving forward — When you work, don’t stop and go back to “tweak” things. In my case, I don’t edit when I write. I keep going like a freight train. I only want to move forward. Editing comes later. This can be difficult for perfectionists who always want to make sure everything is perfect. Stop that! Just move on. Make it perfect later.
- Preparation is key — I might have written nearly 33K words in 22 days, but I did all the actual work way before that. I’ve been reading two books a week for four years. I published more than 300 articles during that time. And I’ve filled more than a dozen Moleskine notebooks with daily thoughts and meditations. When you’re prepared, the actual work is easy.
- Most people won’t get it — Even though I’m always prepared, the actual writing remains hard work. Most people think, “why would you do that? Why not just watch some tv or go shopping?” That’s how the majority of people think. So what? It doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. Remain focused on your own goals.
- Even if you don’t feel like it, you must do your work — That’s what professionals do. They show up every day. They don’t complain. They don’t wait for inspiration to strike. They “do the work,” as Steven Pressfield often says.
- Remove social media and news apps — It really makes a difference. When you have those distracting apps on your phone, you will use them. No one is so strong to resist the temptation to indulge in some mindless scrolling. When I have social media on my phone, I have to use them. I can’t help myself. And before I know it, I waste HOURS. So if you want to get real work done, get off social media. Also, you don’t have to read the news fifty times a day. The world will still go on, even if you’re not caught up with the latest news.
- Working out too hard is not helpful — I used to go all out on runs and at the gym. Afterwards, I would be so beat I couldn’t get off the couch. And after a leg workout, I couldn’t walk normally for two days. And when I wanted to sit somewhere, I would throw myself on the couch or chair. My legs ached too much to sit slowly. If you think about it, it’s nuts. Take it easy.
- You will feel good when you’re finished — I can’t lie, writing is hard, and it took a lot of energy. When I finished the book, I was exhausted. But I also felt accomplished. I felt like I mastered the ideas I wrote about. Whether the book will be a success or not, I feel good about the work I’ve done.
When you finish something, it improves your self-confidence. It even doesn’t even matter how great your work is or how much recognition you get. What matters is that you finished something.
Most people never finish. For this reason, I’m a proponent of going to college or getting a degree. It doesn’t matter what you learned or how useful it is. When you finished something that you started, it means you’re serious about life.
What’s something you want to start? Or what’s something that you’re putting off? If you lack motivation, remember that you finish things for yourself. It’s not about your degrees, salary, or the recognition you get. When you finish, you feel better about yourself. That feeling alone is worth doing the work.