Illustration of a dark haired woman reading a book with a man and woman doing yoga

Tip 2: Aim for 90

Bikram Choudhury (love him or loathe him) is the world’s most infamous yoga instructor who built a wildly successful business based on just 26 yoga postures. So what can Bikram yoga teach us about writing a book?

Every Bikram class goes for 90 minutes and, in my experience, I’ve seen most authors take 90 days to write a book – from rough idea to first draft and polished piece.

That time takes into account working on your usual business, delivering training and whatnot, as well as back and forthing with an editor.(It can take another two to 12 weeks until you get a hot copy in your hands, depending on how you’ve published.)

That said, some yoga studios offer a 60-minute Power Bikram class; and some authors manage to write a book in 60 days – or even less. When my client Patrick Hollingworth wrote The Light and Fast Organisation, he really applied the light and fast approach, writing it well under 90 days, all whilst he was running his busy practice, and delivering keynotes and workshops in a bunch of different countries. Talk about intense!

I’m not the only one who believes in the magic of 90. Entrepreneur and bestselling author of End of Jobs, Taylor Pearson operates in 90-day cycles:

90 days to write a rough draft – the thinker draft
90-days to edit the second draft – the writer draft
90-days to finalise the manuscript – the marketer draft.

Plus, the authors who I work with that have book deals with major publishers, like John Wiley, are usually given about 90 days to submit their polished manuscript from the time they sign their contract.

This is when things really start to heat up!

The period of time before your deadline date is what I nickname ‘the death zone’ – the point when you struggle to take in oxygen as you realise you’re actually on your own (your commissioning editor off to bag another book), with a ‘real deadline’ and a promise of a bestselling book ... It’s enough to make any writer freeze.

That’s why it’s important to have the right editor and writing coach on your team. (After all, only the most ambitious few make it to the summit of Everest without a Sherpa.)

Many editors are published writers too, which means they can relate to your situation as they’ve walked a similar path as you. But because they’re not as emotionally attached to your content – a lifetime’s worth of your IP – they have the foresight to lead you through the blizzard in front, warming you with words of honest but constructive advice, setting milestones and holding you accountable until you reach your 90-day end goal.

Sounds better than freezing your butt off, don’t you think?

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Kelly Irving

I’m an editor and writing coach with a love for deep-diving into brains and businesses. Through my one-to-one work and online program, I provide an action-by-action process that speeds up the time it takes to produce your best book, and turns overwhelm and self-doubt into momentum and excitement for writing.


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