How to Write a Book in 100 Days

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Let's start with the obvious: You don't know how to write a book. I've written seven books, and I don't really know how to write a book either. I have a process that works, sure, but with writing, as with many things in life, it's always when you think you know what you're doing that you get into trouble.

So let's just admit right now, you don't know how to write a book, and definitely not in 100 days, and that's okay. There, don't you feel better?

How to Write a Book in 100 Days.

There's this one moment I think about all the time. I had just finished work—I had this horrible desk job at the time—and as I was getting ready to go home, I felt this urge come over me to become a writer. I had felt like I wanted to become a writer before, for years actually, but in that moment, it was all-consuming. Have you ever felt like that before?

And so, instead of going home, I got out a blank piece of paper, and I stared at it. I stared at that blank piece of paper for a really long time. Because I was looking for a book. If only I could come up with the perfect idea, if only I could write a book, then I'd finally feel like a writer.

But I couldn't think of anything, or at least nothing worthy, and after staring at that blank piece of paper for an hour with nothing, I gave up. In that moment, I felt like I was further from my goal to become a writer than I ever had be. I was so discouraged.

I was discouraged because I didn't know how to write a book.

Honestly, I might still be there today if I hadn't had a few lucky breaks and several mentors to teach me the process of how to write a book.

Are you ready to finish your book in 100 days? Join the 100 Day Book program.

How to Write a Book in 100 Days: 5 Steps

How do you actually write a book in 100 days? There are five steps:

1. Commit to an idea.

Having an idea is easy. Committing to an idea isn't, especially if you're like most writers I know and have dozens of them!

The first step to writing a book is to commit to executing—no matter how you feel about your writing during the process, no matter how many new ideas you come up with in the meantime, no matter what other important things come up. You have to commit to finishing no matter what.

2.  Create a plan.

I've found that the people who have planned are much more likely to finish their books. A plan doesn't have to look like a detailed outline, though, so if you're not into plotting, that's okay.

Here are a few things your plan should include:

  • Word count. How long will your book be? (Here's a word count cheat sheet.) Divide that by how many days you have to write: e.g. there are about 71 weekdays in 100 days.
  • Intention. Where will you write each day? How long will you write each day? Visualize yourself writing there for that long.
  • Publishing and Marketing process. Not because you need to know that now, but because by thinking about it and visualizing it, you improve your chances of actually getting there.

If you think through each step of your book, from your initial idea through the writing process to the publication and marketing of your book, you'll be much more prepared when the writing goes wrong (because it will).

3. Get a team.

Most people think they can write a book on their own. Most people think they don't need support or encouragement or accountability to write a book. And that's why most people fail to finish their books.

That was me. I used to think that I could do it own my own. Honestly, I thought I had no choice but to do it on my own. And I failed again and again and again.

Don't be most people. The great writers throughout history wrote in the midst of a community of other writers. You need a community, too.

A team might look like:

  • A writer's group
  • A writing course or class
  • An editor or mentor

When you get stuck, as you inevitably will, it's your team who will help you get unstuck. Don't start writing your book without one.

4. Write badly every day.

Your first draft will not be perfect. Far from it. You may not be able to stand how bad your writing is. Your sentences might come out as deformed monsters. Your story or logic might go off on strange tangents. You may feel like everything you write is stupid, shallow, and boring.

Write anyway.

It always starts out like this. Writing is iterative. Your second draft will be better than your first. And your fifth draft will be better than your second.

Write badly all the way to the end. You can fix it later.

5. Get accountability.

I had been writing my latest book for two years, two unproductive years of feeling bad about myself all the time for not writing. This was my seventh book. I should have known how to write a book by now. I didn't.

It took two writing friends calling me out (see step 3) for me to finally realize I needed to take drastic measures.

And so I wrote a check for $1,000 to the presidential candidate I disliked the most (this was during the 2016 election), and gave it to a friend with orders to send the check if I missed my deadline. I've never been more focused in my life, and I finished my book in sixty-three days.

Pretty good accountability, right? Most writers need deadlines and accountability to stay focused and do the hard work of writing.

21 Writers Who Finished Their Books in 100 Days

You might say you're not able write a book in 100 days. You might worry that you're not able to write a book at all. But I don't believe that. I honestly believe that everyone can write a book, and I'm not just saying that. I believe it because I've done it.

In fact I wrote my first book in fewer than 100 days. I wrote my latest book in just sixty-three days.

I'm not alone, either. I've worked with hundreds of other writers to write their books, too. Here are just a few:

A. Kaay Miller had a vision of a fantasy novel in April of 1980. Twenty-nine years later, she joined the 100 Day Book program and finally finished. “The habit of writing daily was the most difficult part, and it pushed me on until the point where suddenly my story seemed to flow like water from my fingers to my keyboard,” she says. Now, she's preparing to begin editing her book this month in 100 Day Book: Draft 2. Read her full story here.

Debra Lobel had also nurtured a book idea for years. “I had been struggling with writing my memoir for years and almost gave up. But after joining the 100 Day Book Program, I completed writing my first draft in 100 days,” she says. Now, she's signed up to write her next draft with us in 100 Day Book: Draft 2. Read Debra's story here.

Iris Marsh had actually given up on her book when she joined the Write Practice community. The 100 Day Book program prompted her to pick up her book again. “While I thought to myself, ‘there’s no way I can write a book in just 100 days’, I signed up anyway, hoping for the best. And what do you know? I actually did finish my first draft in 100 days!” she says. “If you are an author and you struggle with getting your first draft done, give this program a try! Yes, it does cost money, but I promise it’s worth it!” Read about Iris's writing journey here.

Jake Strife knew he had what it takes to write a book. In fact, he'd already written nearly two dozen books, and published them to his vast audience of Wattpad readers. But after his twenty-second book took him eight months to write, he realized he needed help, and he joined 100 Day Book. And it worked! “After taking 8 months to finish book 22 . . . Book 23 took less than 4. And I resolved then and there that I would set 100 days to be my limit for each book I write in the future,” he says. Read about Jake's experience writing his twenty-second book here.

Myka Correll believed she had a great idea, but she wasn't sure her writing could do it justice. Perfectionism kept her from ever finishing a book. Then she joined 100 Day Book. “The consistent effort I needed to put out in order to finish the 100 day challenge gave me the needed push to finish my rough draft,” she says. “And then, feeling on a roll, I published my first two books.” Read about how she overcame perfectionism here.

Michael Lynn knew he could write, but he wondered if a novel was beyond him. “I have written papers, poems, short stories, instructions, essays, articles, newsletters, website copy, marketing copy, a few blog series, a history book, a children’s book, and have even been a technical writer and editor. But one thing I have never finished (though I had started many times) was a novel,” he says. Then he joined 100 Day Book—and a few months later, he finished his first novel. “For me, and for others I met in the challenge, the key is to have others running the race alongside you, overcoming the same challenges and obstacles, jumping the same hurdles.”

Bart Mann knows that his best writing (honestly, sometimes his only writing) comes when he's facing down a deadline. And that's what he got in 100 Day Book: a set of deadlines to hold him accountable, and a community that would spur him on to meet them. “The encouragement and inclusivity by the Write Practice staff and fellow writers created a warm and wonderful atmosphere that would be hard to duplicate elsewhere. I really felt like part of a community, one that wanted me to succeed almost as much as I did,” he said. “Plus now I have a finished draft of a novel I’ve been working on for longer than I care to admit.” Read about Bart's writing experience here.

Deborah Trahan is no stranger to major projects. In fact, she decided to build a house and write her book at the same time. The process wasn't easy, but with 100 Day Book, she's made it to the final page of her book. “If not for the professional support provided by bestselling author Joe Bunting and his crew at The Write Practice, I’d still be staring at a blank computer screen,” she says. “Instead, I’m on my way to publication.” Her best advice for other writers? “Writing a novel is a big enough challenge without attempting to do it alone. So, don’t.” Read Deborah's full story here.

Stella Moreux had been “marinating” on an idea for her “southern fried” fantasy novel for more than three years, but it wasn't until she signed up for the 100 Day Book program that she seriously started writing it. “I won’t mince words when I say this was hard,” Stella says in her post about the writing process. “However, I would not trade this experience for anything. I survived and finished! The 100 Day Book Program is a challenge but worth it!”

Jodi Elderton had written short stories, but never a novel, and with almost two jobs and young kids, she worried she never would. But she says, “This program made it doable, if you stick with it.” By the end, she finished her novel and said to her writing community, “We made it!” Read Jodi's full story here.

Rita Harris had an incredibly hard year. After committing to writing her novel, she says she had a marriage breakdown, sold her house and moved, and then had a health scare. Any one of those things could have derailed her writing process, but she kept going, motivated by the writing team she had surrounded herself with and the accountability she agreed to. Despite everything, she finished her book, “something which I doubt I would have had even without the life challenges I faced during the course of my writing if I had not enrolled in the program.” Read her story of determination here.

Karin Weiss‘s novel, A Roaring Deep Within, had been languishing half-finished for years. When she began the process, she thought it would be easy, mostly rewriting, but the process proved much more difficult than expected. What saved her was the writing community in the 100 Day Book program. “I found there a ‘writer’s community,'” she says, “that was available night and day that gave me support and motivation to keep going when my energy dragged, or when I felt discouraged at a tough point in my writing.” Read more about how Karin finally finished her novel-in-progress here.

Sef Churchill decided to write her book in 100 days “on an impulse one Thursday night.” She followed our process, and by Sunday had committed to an idea. How did it go? “Now I have a book,” she says, “a book which before that first Sunday, I had not even dreamed of.” Check out the 10 lessons she learned about the book writing process.

Ella J. Smyth wrote two of her Romance novels (two novels!) in a little over a 100 days. She talks about her experience, and the power of accountability, here.

Nathan Salley set aside one day a week to write his book, and in that restricted amount of time he was able to finish his book in less than 100 days. You can read about Nathan's experience (and his next steps into publishing) here.

When Margherita Crystal Lotus told me her sci-fi/fantasy mashup novel was going to be over 100,000 words, and that she was going to do it in 100 days, I had a few doubts she would be able to finish it in time. But she did finish in time, a few days early in fact. And now she's published the finished book. You can read more about her novel The Color Game here.

Kira Swanson rewrote her novel, which she finished in NaNoWriMo, expanding it from a 70,000-word first draft into a 100,000-word second draft. She recently pitched it to agents and had five of them ask to see the finished manuscript. You can read more about her novel revision experience here.

100 Day Book Challenge Performance

Kira Swanson's goals and accountability helped her rewrite her novel in 100 days.

Sandra Whitten was feeling lost and unprepared in the midst of her first book. But after she signed up for our course, she began writing every day for the first time and finally finished her book. You can read more about Sandra's experience here.

Fran Benfield said that before she signed up for our program, she was “drowning in a sea of words” (I can relate to that feeling!). But she did finish, and found her voice through the process. You can read about how she wrote her memoir here.

Uma Eachempati had been wanting to write about her father's experience as a prisoner of war during World War II for years. She finally finished it in August, writing it in less than 100 days!

Doug Smith told me he had been thinking about his idea for a novel, Phoenix Searching, “for more years than I care to admit to.” By following our process, he finally finished his novel in May! “What I thought was a long shot,” he says, “turned out to be totally doable.”

These writers have finished their books in less than 100 days, and the reality is you can too. You just need to have the right process.

 

You Can Try to Do This on Your Own, But You Probably Won't

Have you ever tried to write a book and failed? I have. Many many times over. My biggest mistake was trying to do it alone.

Honestly, it wasn't until I hired a coach and found a writing mentor that I finally finished my first book.

If you want to write a book, I would love to help you. Right now, for a limited time, you can join the 100 Day Book program. Over the course of 100 days, I'll guide you through the writing process, and by the end of the 100 days, you'll have a finished book.

So many writers have finished their books in this program (including the writers above), and so can you. If you want to join the program and finish your book in 100 days like the writers above, you can sign up here.

Have you finished writing a book? What was the most important thing that enabled you to finish? Let us know in the comments!

PRACTICE

Have a book idea? Commit to finishing it, no matter what. Let us know in the comments what your book idea is and publicly commit to finishing it.

Happy writing!

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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23 Comments

  1. Anyaogu Ikechukwu

    I want to write my own book. But I am still delaying it.

    Reply
    • Kawiria

      This is only my opinion, of course, but I think you should stop delaying it and allow yourself to be spontaneous. When you look back later, while your dreams are becoming reality, you’ll be grateful you took the plunge. I’ve been in the same place, so I can tell you–waiting won’t write you a book.

      Reply
    • Selma Writes

      Not convinced yet? I get you… it will be hard but it will be rewarding. I promise you that! 100Day Challenge ROCKS! But don’t just take. Y word for it– experience it. You can do it. Now go sign up! Oh no, Joe’s not paying to say this…

      Reply
  2. samcarter44

    I am planning on starting my book during NaNoWriMo this year, and I have people who have committed to keeping me accountable. (I am in the planning process now.) Very excited about my main character who is a movie reviewer and a pastor’s wife.

    Reply
    • Selma Writes

      You go girl!! Blessings.

      Reply
  3. gabrielle steward

    i’m trying so hard to stay on track with my stories but I can never get to them because of school and grades but when I do start writing I always seem to be stuck on it or I have so many ideas in my head it worres me down and I stop writing I just wish writing flows with me like drawing does for me cause im an artist but I really want to make stories one day

    Reply
    • Selma Writes

      You will need to commit to it for 100 days to get the results I talk about. If you have other commitments, this will be too difficult. Just don’t forget that this 100day Forum is here for when you’re ready. Don’t forget.

      Reply
  4. Sheilah

    I have wanted to write a book for years. I actually did write one, it isn’t very good, though., It’s on a floppy disk, so there’s no retrieving it without a bit of work technology-wise.I never really wrote much again until I started following Joe and joining The Write Practice. I’ve entered two short story contests, and now want to write that novel!! I just have no idea what i want to write about, though! Ugh!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I think you probably have an idea you’re thinking about but just don’t want to admit to it (or commit to it). Am I wrong?

      Reply
      • Sheilah

        hmmmmm…wow Joe, you’ve got me thinking on that one-I must agree with you a little on that. What the heck is that kind of phenomenon? Have you ever dealt with such a situation?

        Reply
        • Selma Writes

          Get in there Sheilah. You’ll be happy you did. Proooomise!

          Reply
  5. Kelly Hansen

    For years I’ve wanted to write a book. My husband has this saying for whenever anything weird or exciting happens: “That’s going in the movie.” As if there will one day be a movie about his life. 🙂 And I always think, I could write that into the book. As if.
    AS. IF.
    Those words have held me back for so long. I still don’t have a “big idea” or even a little one. I no longer think I’ll write (Big voice) “The Great American Novel,” but maybe I believe I can write a decent mediocre novel.
    I figure if half the doctors, lawyers, dentists, and teachers come from the bottom half of their class, then about half the books written and published are from the bottom half of the book pile. I aspire to be in the bottom of the top half. 😉 Not too worried about “top of the class” but somewhere in the middle would work.
    Ah shucks. Shoot. To be honest, if I just got a darned book written at all I’d be tickled yellow.

    Reply
    • Selma Writes

      Do it my friend. Thank me later. *wink*

      Reply
  6. TerriblyTerrific

    These were great points! Every one of them! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thank you! Which step are you working on?

      Reply
  7. Bobby Rakhia

    Hey,

    I wanted to write a book from 10years now, ya i know crazy long time. but definitely taking up this challenge of 100 days and heading straight into it.

    thank for these pointers, totally valid and helpful indeed 🙂

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Wow, that’s awesome Bobby. Why were you going to wait 10 years? And why the change now?

      Reply
      • Bobby Rakhia

        Have taken up a 100 day challenge of Happiness & Kindness! hence I’m taking up things which gimme happiness, one of them is writing my book! 🙂

        Reply
        • Selma Writes

          Oh, you’ll get that happiness feeling everyday. And I assure you that it’ll last longer than 100 days. JUST DO IT!

          Reply
          • Bobby Rakhia

            Oh Thanx Selma, its th end of 1st week today and must say it really is working 🙂

  8. Alienrun

    So I just took a peak at the Book Writing Roadmap and um…

    “When people write solely for themselves, they tend to
    write stories that aren’t very good, selfish stories, stories
    that don’t instruct, amuse, or even hold a reader’s
    interest.

    When people write for others, especially if they write for
    one specific other—their child, their lover, their best
    friend—they tend to write stories that are exciting, full of
    life, real. ”

    …This part concerns me…

    A book I’ve been trying to write for a while now falls into that first section and I imagine that’s part of why its hard for me to see too many people liking it…either that or it IS for someone else and I don’t know it yet. It’s only made worse by the fact that I recently came up with a much shorter story with an intended audience and its much more likely people would like that one more (or at least they would “get it” more).

    Part of me is a bit torn here, I was once told that people would be most interested in your most weird and out there ideas as opposed to something more normal, but I’m not sure of that now…

    …another thing being that despite all this, this story has become something rather personal to me, and I’d like to have it in a completed written form not just for myself but to see how others react to it, even if its just to question every portion of it.

    I’m just wondering how much this would get in the way of my writing process if I were to take the 100 day Writing Course. I really don’t know, but I’d love to get your feedback on it! 😀

    Reply
    • Selma Writes

      Hey, stop wondering. I don’t say this in a condescending way. Join the Challenge.its NOT easy. IT’S NOT EASY! But, You will not regret it. I promise. Happy writing my friend.

      Reply
  9. Selma Writes

    Hello nice people — Writers!! I know exactly how you feel. Your doubtful feelings resonate with me. That was me too. EXACTLY!! I’m fresh out of the 100 Day challenge and let me tell you- I would definitely do it again.
    My story in a nutshell: I had started workshopping a little idea in the forum: There was this girl who wakes up disoriented in a park bench. She vomits profusely.
    There’s where I was when Joe Bunting ‘tsk tsked’ me.
    “Nah, not me. I still need more practice,” I reply to him.
    “You’ll get 100 days of consecutive practice, AND lessons AND accountability,” he ‘chimes’.
    “Sign me up,” I say!!! And it has become the BEST decision/investment I’ve ever made this year. Wow. So if you want to feel first hand what it’s all about JUST DO IT! You’ll feel Invigorated and Alive. 100 Day Challenge is 100% for you. Do it!!! And the ‘happy’ in Happy Writing(Joe’s phrase) will have a whole new meaning.

    No pressure, but if you want to read my blog post on my 100 day journey, do it here. No pressure. https://intricaciesandfollies.com/2017/09/24/100-day-book-challenge/

    Reply

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