Flat lay image of books, pen, pin, laptop and headphones

Writing a book? You need a 5-minute Book Task Checklist (includes your actual Checklist)

So you’ve set aside time for writing your book. Finally! 

Kids squared away. Tick. Phone off. Tick. No client calls in the diary. Tick. Tick. Tick.

But you sit down with your cuppa, fingers on the keys ready to tap away, and then…nothing. 

Some days - let’s face it - it’s really shit hard “trying” to write, especially when the muse has left, and no sparks of inspiration are flying. Even with the best intentions, and the best conditions, sometimes it. Just. Doesn’t. Work! 

A big thing we talk about in our author writing community is the fact that your energy needs to align with whatever you’ve set aside to do that day. There needs to be an alignment. 

I learned this the hard way when I turned up to our regular writing sprint (50-minutes of focused group co-writing) with all the “good” intentions of reviewing a manuscript for a client during that time. 

But after a big morning in the surf, and feeling a bit jazzed with the first day of spring, my brain was pinging off in all different directions and I could not for the life of me get into the deep, focused and grounded space for working on this kind of thing. 

So what did I do?

And what could you do if something similar happens to you?

An author of mine in the group Penelope Barr came up with the concept of what we’ve spun into the “5-min Book Task Checklist”

Have this checklist nearby, so on the days you just can’t get into the actual writing or deep work required then you can whip out this little checklist and start ticking off small but invaluable tasks. 

See this as "Consistent Progress Compounds", which is a term prolific author Ryan Holiday talks about. In this post, he’s quoted for saying, “Compound interest is one of the most powerful forces on earth. And you can apply that to your own work."

So here’s how to progress your book on compound interest:

Your 5-minute Book Checklist 

1. Print your book and read it offline to see where you’re at, where you’ve been and where you’re going. (You can’t do that well online.)

2. Reorganise and clear up any of your online (or offline) chapter files. Delete anything you don’t need.

3. Go through your backlog of notes or “thought bombs” you’ve jotted down in Evernote, Slack, Word or whatever software/napkin (often while you’ve been out walking or in the shower).

4. Pull common threads from your notes and ideas, and identify which chapter they belong in. Note down Ch1, 2 etc. 

5. Transfer that note to the chapter file itself (Author and friend Cassandra Goodman likes to delete the original thought bomb from her phone as a way of “checking off” she’s addressed them.)

6. Work on brainstorming ideas for your book title or subtitle.

7. Do a high-level, self-edit of your chapters using something like the Tick-Cross-? System. (Doing this offline is best).

8. Go for a walk! Reset with an activity that brings you joy and gets you moving - break the cycle of toxic productivity!

9. Assess the overall idea of your book and its direction using a quick and dirty tool like the Book Screening Canvas. (You’ll be surprised at how much you know and are ready to write when your brain is in a better mood.)

10. Tidy your desk! A tidy workspace is a tidy mind.

What other tasks would you add to the list?


We’d love to hear if our energetic and dynamic group of writers could help you complete your book, just enter your name here and we’ll be in touch.


The 5-Step Structure

to Write Anything

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.

The 5-Step Structure To Write Absolutely Anything by Book Coach Kelly Irving

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