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How to write a book in 52 weeks

When a project is too big that it prevents you from starting or completing it, you break it up into smaller chunks and start.

Roughly three hundred and twelve weeks have gone by since I left my leadership position in the corporate world. When you do the math, that’s six years. During those six years, I’ve often mentioned to family and friends I wanted to write a book. 

“One day, I will write a book.” 

One day never came. But the little voice in my head never went away. That little voice told me that I had the wisdom, the experience, the stories, the creativity, the conversations, the network, and the determination to make it happen. One day.

I started writing stories already in 2018. I wrote my first story sitting in Cafe Belcampo in Groningen, the Netherlands, while waiting in anticipation of the promotion ceremony of a former corporate colleague. Writing that story was a magical experience. In the morning, I walked through the city of Groningen, reliving many memories from my six years of studies, and I remember having an enormous boost of inspiration.

I love the writing process. I enjoy sitting in a place where I get inspired by the surroundings, the conversations happening around me, and the excellent coffee. Coffee has helped me to write hundreds of stories since the eleventh of January 2018. Hundreds of stories about self-awareness, leadership, teamwork, culture, and ordinary and extraordinary experiences. Sometimes, it is written well in advance, sometimes in the spur of the moment.

During those years of writing, I received positive feedback on my stories. People liked it. That kept me going. I started posting the stories on websites like Medium and Substack and started to make small amounts of money. Strangers were reading my stories and clapped for them. 

That was and still is a funny feeling. To receive feedback from a friend is one thing. You never really know whether they compliment you or the story’s content. A stranger has no agenda other than learning and growing from the content they’re reading. I received feedback when I least expected it, and I received no feedback when I thought I had written a good story. Writing can be rewarding and cruel at the same time.

Over those years, I’ve created enough content to write even three books. But I never made the time to put it all together in a book. Writing the stories is one thing. Doing the editing and putting it all together is another thing. While there were common topics, there never really was a predefined structure to help me create one coherent story.

That’s the story I’ve told myself and others over the past years. It’s just an excuse. When you really want something, you create the conditions to get it done. That separates successful people from those who keep dreaming and talking but never get it done.

I dreamt a lot. I talked a lot. But I never got it done.

There were always excuses. Yes, detoxing from my corporate life took me a while, but that shouldn’t have stopped me from embarking on a new journey. There were the lockdowns during COVID-19, but those were fantastic opportunities to get it done.

Instead, I prioritized learning how to design, build, and maintain a website during those years. There were large interim projects that kept me busy for some months in a row. Months during which I kept writing my stories but did not make any progress on my book dream.

Another year started with good intentions but without results. December would come, and that little voice inside of me would show up again and tell me that another year had gone by without any tangible result. 

2023 was also such a year. It started with the best intentions to find a more extended period of time where I would sit down and finally write my book. You already know the result from what you have read so far. Again, there were some excuses.

My mother passed away, our youngest child left the house, leaving an empty nest behind, my wife got a significant promotion in the same week my son left, and a significant project required attention.

While writing my reflections for 2023, I decided that something needed to change dramatically if I didn’t want to look back in regret. Of course, I could wait for a few more years when I have more time, but my message is relevant now, and I want to inspire and help leaders grow now. Not when I can’t travel anymore because it’s environmentally not done, or an artificial knee or hip would prevent me from going where I want to go to deliver my message.

So, I decided it will happen in 2024. My book will be written in 2024, and it’s one of my three priorities for this year. Three priorities that will make my year highly memorable. My book is at the top of my list and not somewhere towards the end of several priorities that would happen first before I would sit down and write the book.

I also decided that I needed to approach writing the book differently. Writing a book is a daunting task when you prioritize it like that. Writing a book. I’ve done that before, and it didn’t work. So, doing it again would confirm the definition of insanity. Doing something over and over again without success and expecting a different outcome.

Business books vary from thirty thousand to sixty thousand words on average. That means I have a book by the end of the year if I write a thousand words per week. And that’s precisely what’s going to happen. When a project is too big that it prevents you from starting or completing it, you break it up into smaller chunks and start.

So, for the next 52 weeks, or 52 Fridays, I will be writing my book.

You will receive one story of about a thousand words every Friday morning at 8 am. Next week, on Friday, I will unveil the structure of the book and the peripheral activities I will develop to make the book visible and teachable. 

Your turn: What big ambition will you accomplish in 52 weeks?

Erikjan

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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