How I Finished Writing My Book in 90 Days

Note: This is a guest post from Sandy Kreps, who helps people cut through the chaos of modern life and find a simpler path on her blog, Modern Simplicity.

How long does it take to write a book? Depends on who you ask. By August 2015, I had been working on my book for two years, and I was maybe only 30 percent through the first draft.

How Accountability Helped Me Finish My Book

Instead of working on the book regularly, I wrote a little here and there, with the manuscript collecting digital dust for months at a time.

I’d already written several simple living and home organization books for Kindle, but in my mind, I’d built up this book as my masterpiece, the book I’d finally publish in print and be a “real author.” I’d basically psyched myself out of even writing it.

Then I went to Tribe Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. As a long-time “pioneer” Tribe Writer, I was excited to finally meet so many of the online friends I’d made. It was my first writer’s conference, and I hoped it would be a weekend full of inspiration, learning, and relationship building.

I didn’t realize it would be life-changing.

First, get inspired

At the conference, the speakers were amazing. My head spun with new ideas, as I filled a notebook with the knowledge, experience, and inspiration the speakers imparted.

  • Allison Fallon urged us to our authentic voice.
  • Tim Grahl told us to start small by setting manageable goals.
  • Joshua Becker, whom I’d been dying to meet as a devoted follower of his blog, encouraged us to dig deep and see how we can best help people.
  • Christine Niles encouraged us to map out our 90-day goals and encouraged us with the words I needed to hear: Do it afraid.

Throughout the conference, three key messages kept popping up:

  1. Don’t be afraid to use your authentic voice.
  2. Help others relentlessly, without expectation of reward.
  3. Don’t let fear hold you back. Do it anyway.

Following the final presentation, we sat in small groups to work on our 90-day goals.

With the lessons of the conference rushing through my head — do it afraid, help others relentlessly, dig deep, be authentic, set manageable goals — I finally spoke up, vowing that I would finish my book, Mommy Simplicity, in just 90 days.

Brenda McGraw, a fellow Tribe Writer and writing coach, immediately offered to hold me accountable to that goal. Now, there was no getting out of it. I was committed to finishing, and Brenda was going to hold me to it.

Then, the real work begins

At the airport, as I waited to return to Dallas, I outlined what needed to be done to get my book completed in just 90 days. And I panicked.

What was I thinking?! It couldn’t be done! Not by me, anyway!

Texting with my new friends from Tribe Conference, they encouraged me that it was, in fact, doable to get the book done and they were rooting for me. That’s one of the things I love most about writers. We’ve got each others’ backs and love to encourage each other. How many other callings are filled with so many encouraging companions?

The next 90 days were a blur of outlining, writing, and rewriting. I checked in with Brenda weekly to update her on my status and almost daily received messages of encouragement from friends I had made at Tribe Conference.

I was awed as a scrappy bundle of words developed into an actual manuscript and even more amazed that the words now rang true with my voice, a voice I’d been struggling to find for years.

On day 89, I sent my completed manuscript to an editor Brenda had helped me find. I had done it. I finished the book I’d been struggling with for years in just 90 days, thanks to the inspiration from the Tribe Conference and the friends who held me accountable to achieving my goals.

One of the greatest days of my life was opening the brown package that arrived containing the finished product of my labors: a beautiful book with my name on the cover.

Four things I learned

So I want to share what I learned from this experience. When you’ve got a big goal in your heart, you need to connect with others for accountability and encouragement. Here are four things I learned about using accountability to reach my big goal:

1. Make your goal specific.

I knew I wanted to finish my book but was a little unclear what that would look like. My accountability group encouraged me to plot out a total word goal as well as weekly word goals to measure my progress.

2. Choose a specific length of time to accomplish your goal.

While this timeline doesn’t need to be set in stone, you need to feel a little pressure to perform. I think most goals can be accomplished in 30 to 90 days. If not, then consider breaking your goals down into smaller chunks.

3. Find someone who supports you.

Whether you have one accountability partner or a whole group, using a trusted support system to encourage you and give you a little push when needed is absolutely necessary to success.

I don’t think I would have finished my book if it hadn’t been for the guidance and motivation I received from Brenda and my Tribe Conference friends.

4. Make accountability easy.

It needs to be as simple as possible to get encouragement when you need it. I communicated with my support system via text and Facebook but also had weekly phone conversations with Brenda until I completed my book.

Do you need encouragement to finish?

When creative people come together, it’s hard to even describe the energy that fills the room — a bubbling up of ideas, inspiration, and camaraderie.

If you’re interested in meeting like-minded writers, developing your craft, and learn how to build an audience for your writing, then I encourage you to join me, and a host of others, at the Tribe Conference this year.

Attending a conference is arguably one of the best ways you can meet like-minded people, get inspired, and create work you never thought possible. This is what I learned first-hand.

How has accountability helped you with completing an unfinished project? Share in the comments.

Sandy Kreps helps people cut through the chaos of modern life and find a simpler path. Sandy writes regularly on her blog, Modern Simplicity. She is the author of Mommy Simplicity: Finding Calm in the Chaos, Simply Christmas, and Fresh Start.

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25 thoughts on “How I Finished Writing My Book in 90 Days

  1. For me, I need a significant chunk of time between drafts to be able to let it cool off and go in and edit it, so I will never do a start-to-finish book in that little amount of time, but maybe it’s different for non-fiction writers? I am trying to get better at drafting faster though–good tips, thanks!

    1. I write non-fiction as well MK, and it did take a little time past the 90 days to get final edits done, get the book laid out, and get it published on Amazon. Glad you enjoyed the article, and best wishes on your book!

  2. Thank you for your informative post! Right now time is my issue. I want to grow my blog and write a book, but need to focus on one first. Writing is something I do outside of work so I don’t want to stretch myself too thin. Decisions, decisions….

    1. Keep at it Jodi! It will all come together! I would probably start by working on your blog and starting an email list so you’ll have an audience ready and waiting when your book is finished! Good luck!

  3. I was in the same boat. I had been working on my novel, Love Like Alzheimer’s, for three and a half years (off and on, of course) and it wasn’t until January that I was able to really get serious and finish my book and get it edited. I leaned on posts and guides set up by Jeff Goins and Tim Grahl a lot to get my book done. Keeping your goals in front of you and making time to work on them is huge. Getting someone to keep you accountable is really important. Good post!

  4. Honestly I’ve been working on my new novel and with the mixed emotions, sometimes I find it hard to write anything because of fear
    …Sometimes words and ideas flow and I get excited… I’m glad to see that someone out there was going through the same thing as me..wish we all had a constant motivating factor because writing isn’t easy.

    1. Hi Callamer! Welcome! I assure you you’re not the only one. Writing is NOT easy! Keep at it — it’s the best feeling in the world to see your book finished and ready for the world!

  5. Sandy- I attended a weekend intensive workshop with Jeff Goins and can attest to the creative energy and sense of community you noted. Knowing other Tribe Writers and applying the tools learned will definitely propel aspiring writers forward! Thanks for your post.

    1. Thank you John! I love meeting other Tribe Writers — what an amazing community of writers!

  6. Sandy – I am a new writer and blogger. Jeff’s “Tribal” community is truly inspirational. His is the only writing that I regularly read in my many inboxes. The post you wrote here is yet another inspiring read. I am now going home to see if Franklin is in our future. I really want to get established with a platform and am not even sure that my writing is too focused into too narrow of a topic. I love the learning process!

  7. I needed to hear this today! I am on year 5 – that’s right…FIVE…of writing my book. I have 6 children so I can easily use them as an excuse. But, it’s time to finish this and really put forth a 90-Day plan (because yes, I am literally that close I could actually do this). Thank you for your inspiration today!

    1. Thank you Sarah! Good luck on finishing that book. I KNOW it can be done. It’s not easy, but it is so worth it!

  8. Wow that’s so inspiring !! I’m a soon-to-be blogger and of course dream of writing a book in future. So happy for you that you were able to complete in three months what you hadn’t been able to in years. Thanks for sharing, very inspiring! Best wishes for the book’s success 🙂

  9. Hi Sandy,

    Accountability is HUGE in the achievement game.

    You shared a hella inspiring story, writing a full book in 90 days. Fabulous.

    I once wrote one, 6,000 word bite-sized eBook daily for 3 months in a row. Every day. At the end of the 3 months I created and self published over 90 eBooks. I just held myself accountable. Every single day I’d meditate in the morning then headed down to a quiet section of the villa in Bali to write for 3-4 hours. No breaks.

    I felt like I was cheating; the place was so darn peaceful. I also was in the flow the whole time so dissolved many common mental blocks to achievement. Doubts can’t purchase in a mind that’s in the flow.

    Keep on writing, keep on inspiring Sandy. You rock.

    Ryan

  10. Hi, Sandy!
    What an example of true grit you are!
    An inspiring post. Thanks.
    Kudos for sticking with the plan – the 90 day challenge! And your book is living proof.
    I also took up Christine’s 90 day challenge.
    Comes highly recommended – attend the Tribe conference in Nashville!
    My undertaking: Had to take down a previous website and put together a new blogging site. Confession – it took 105 days to fly. But, we did it.
    To your three crucial factors (authentic voice, helping others, overcome fear) one could add a fourth and fifth: hard work is required & don’t try “making it alone.”
    We need each other.
    Thank you!

  11. Inspiring post Sandy. I have some list of books I want to write for about three years now family, kids and work has been my excuses, but I decided I was going to start with one this next month and finish it in 60 – 90 days. that was why I started searching online and saw Jeff’s blog and books and joined his newsletter, I cant make it to the tribe conference because I am in Nigeria, Africa and not enough money for that distant travel. But I will appreciate if someone can help me and I will be accountable to him/her to be able to finish my first book atleast. thank you once again Sandy.

  12. I’m at the beginning of a journey to write (or rather produce) a book featuring my photography. I envision it as being 95% photography with the occasional word/phrase on specific pages. I haven’t thought about a deadline, but I’m curious how you would approach this kind of project as opposed to something comprised primarily of words?

  13. Hi Jeff,

    I really appreciate your efforts to complete a book in 90 days. And thanks for sharing your experience in doing so.

    But a novel takes more effort and time to be completed. It also took the author duo L. Hart and Olivia Rupprecht a lot of time and effort to finish the sequel to their previous masterpiece, THERE WILL BE KILLING.

    INTERESTINGLY, the sequel is titled: “Making A Killing”.
    It is a classic blend of money and murder. Both these angles have been merged seamlessly to produce one heck of a Thriller.

    The short description of the novel goes like this:
    The CIA’s most valuable assassin, Agent J.D. Mikel, wasn’t supposed to fall in love with anyone – especially not Kate Morningside, a woman coveted by another powerful world player. When Kate is kidnapped, J.D. is pulled into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, and one false move could cost him everything. Indeed, there are players – and then there are the masters who make the rules only to break them.
    It’s not an even match for those joining an epic search for Kate on a twisted dark hunt down the Mekong River in the midst of a bitterly disputed war: Izzy, a brilliant young psychiatrist assigned to the Army’s 8th Field Hospital and counting the days until he can return home; and his best friend Gregg, a gifted psychologist who served his time only to be driven back to Vietnam by his own inner demons and a rivalry with Mikel that burns as intensely as napalm.

    There are other wars within wars in turbulent 1970. From the CIA to the American mafia to an International cartel helmed by a master of the sadistic, all eyes are on Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle. And when it comes to a certain cash crop flourishing under the dominion of the mysterious Poppy King, everyone wants a piece of the action. Money talks. The currency? Heroin. It’s a spinning maze of intrigue, politics, and mind games; a hotbed where sex, drugs, and Janis Joplin aren’t always a beautiful thing. But even when no one turns out to be quite who or what they seem, one rule remains fast across the Devil’s chessboard: Winners live. Losers die.

    The sequel to the national bestseller THERE WILL BE KILLING, MAKING A KILLING artfully weaves a spellbinding tapestry of dark history, psychology, and seduction – the best and worst of our humanity . . . and the hunger of our hearts.

    In case you are too curious about the story, please visit the website:
    https://thestoryplant.com/our-authors/ohn-l-hart-ph-d-and-olivia-rupprecht/our-authorsohn-l-hart-ph-d-and-olivia-rupprechtthere-will-be-killing/

    Thanks

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