‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’
The questions are – what are you capable of achieving in a day? Have you ever tried to maximise one day?
Writing a book in a day is one thing I thought I was capable of, if I pushed myself. ‘Do it because you can’, I thought to myself. If you can do it – why put it off to some other non-defined future date. Do it now.
I wrote, edited, and published a book in a day. Each day since has probably been less productive than that day – the 8th of December 2019. The day itself was a 19-hour journey of self-discovery. I had before pushed my physical limits but never my creative and mental limits. You can read all about the day in my book How to write a book in a day (Written in a day). Shameless plug. How do I reflect now I have had time to take it all in?
The day was exhilarating and exhausting. The day after was a blur. I have never experienced such mental fatigue. I thought I pushed my mental limits before, when I was last minute cramming for exams, but this was different. Hard to explain exactly but I was irritable, slow, and mentally drifting all day. Had the fact that I had been so productive one day meant I could not be as productive the next one? To sum it up in a word – yes.
As soon as I submitted my work to Kindle at 11.56pm I tried to go to sleep. That was extremely ambitious. Although I was so tired my brain still needed some slow down time. The wheels were still spinning in my head as I closed my eyes. My mind had run a marathon, it needed a cool down period.
Sleep did not come for quite a while. This did not help my lust for life the next day. I did manage to complete my day at work, but it was a lethargic one. I felt like I was dealing with a hangover. The opposite to the previous day where I was laser focused. Much of that day was not overly ‘fun’ but pushing yourself is uncomfortable and I have learned to embrace it. Perhaps doing anything worthwhile must come with some discomfort.
The week after I became annoyed with the book. I realised that I had made a few errors of grammar and spelling. It was tarnishing my sense of achievement.
I struggled with the need to correct these errors. I knew I could fix most of them in an hour or two but then the book would not have been truly written, edited, and published in a day. The dilemma – do I fix it?
This dilemma sat with me for a few days. I want to fix it, but I could not fix it. Who said so? – I said so. I needed to stay true to the title and leave it warts and all. It is testament to the fact that the task was difficult, and I am an inexperienced writer. It is a perfect picture of where and who I was that day, I will always have this creative piece in my life. The little mistakes give it some rawness that maybe show the realness.
Now many months later the shame has dimmed, and the sense of pride has returned. I am not fully happy with the book and maybe never will be as it is slightly flawed. Like a piece of music with a few off notes, the flow is not perfect but maybe that is ok. Maybe it is the off notes that make the music interesting.
Would I recommend doing what I did – why not, but only if it excites you. Do I recommend challenging yourself to do something extraordinary in a day – absolutely. It is the balance between the everyday amazing routines and habits that build so beautifully to achieving goals and the ability to be spontaneous and do something for the experience when the opportunity arrives. Opportunities and experiences should not be sacrificed because you have not ‘missed a gym session in two years’ or ‘I always have coffee at that time’. Habits can be restrictive, breaking for a day is ok if you can be conscious about the choice.
The point here is to pick a day and focus on one task for an entire day, try it. Something you want to do, a task for yourself. Can you put all your efforts into one task, perhaps producing something at the end? You know you can do something, anything from thoroughly cleaning the house to building a jigsaw to cycling to planting to running to reading to driving.
Completely commit to it for an entire day and see how much you can achieve. It is amazing.
It will take determination and persistence. You will see how much you are capable of when you truly dive into something. If you have never done it – try it.
If you are looking for something to read on your next sun holiday or train journey, go for it. Remember it is called How to write a book in a day (Written in a day), you could probably read it in a day too.
Literally writing a book in a day is possible but it is not the norm. A novel for instance of normal size (around 75,000 words) can take years, one author calculated the time versus words rate at 105 words per hour – that is well over 700 hours.
The use of a day to its fullest is something special, it requires a goal and that goal is based on your values. What do you value most, and can you devote a day to that value?
Setting extraordinary goals lead to extraordinary results if they are specific and challenging.
If your day lacks this specific direction procrastination often takes over. Procrastinators will postpone tasks to escape the negative feelings that may arise, escaping any discomfort to stay the same.
Challenge– just go for it, pick a day, and squeeze out every bit of effort you have into something for yourself. Get up early, put a plan in place and just do it. Do it because you can.
Why restrict your capabilities when you know you can do more?
Why not use a full day?
 Shantos, A. (n.d.). How Many Hours Does it Take to Write a Novel? Retrieved from https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/846/a-writers-toolkit/essential-information/
 Latham, G. P., & Pinder, C. C. (2005). Work Motivation Theory and Research at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century. Annual Review of Psychology, 56(1), 485-516. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142105
 Zetik DC , Stuhlmacher A. (2002) . Goal setting and negotiation performance: a meta-analysis . Group Process. Intergroup. Relat. 5 : 35 – 52
 Ferrari, J. R. (1991). Compulsive procrastination: some self-reported characteristics. Psychological Reports, 68, 455–458. doi:10.2466/pr0.19188.8.131.525.