LearnHow I Wrote a Book in 3 Days


Josh Long
writes on October 31, 2012

On Thursday October 11th, Drew Wilson was having a conversation with his friend and colleague Adam Stacoviak before they recorded their weekly podcast, The Industry. Adam ranted about his frustrations with Paypal (as all of us have at some point), and Drew was inspired to create a solution. Rather than wait, Drew embraced his inspiration and began work immediately (he actually started building the product during the recording).

He was inspired. He executed.

Five days later he launched Space Box.

Flashback to two weeks prior, and I had the privilege of meeting Drew when I was asked to be a guest on The Industry podcast. I was struck by his unconventional ways and his knack for building great products on impulse. I felt I had met a kindred spirit. I’ve been an advocate for years for getting to the point both as an editor for Treehouse and a designer, and felt that our philosophies perfectly mirrored each other.

Too many individuals spend all of their inspiration energy on planning out elements of a product or a campaign that they can’t possibly predict. If we spend the bulk of our creative energy in deciding what to do, or gasp, calling a meeting to discuss an idea, we’ve lost.

After hearing last week that Drew had been inspired to build an app, and that he had shipped it within five days, I knew this was something I needed to write about.

I was inspired. I executed.

On Monday October 22nd, I sent Drew a message. I told him I wanted to give people a book that didn’t talk about lean startups or pie-in-the-sky processes, but rather inspired them to act on inspiration and to document exactly how to execute on their ideas immediately.

We instantly called each other on Skype and throughout our conversation the idea seemed evident… we *had* to write this book.

The world needed it. Creatives needed it. We needed it. You needed it. We all need to embrace our inspiration, our strongest incarnation of energy, and act now.

Once we decided to make it happen, we acted immediately.

A second truth then became evident. As crazy as it seemed, we couldn’t help but feel a conviction to write the book in the same manner as Drew built his app.

We had to make this book in a week too. We had to execute.

The Goal

The goal was to document every thought process and step that Drew had while building and finishing Space Box. Our mission was to create a website for the book, create a way to take pre-orders, set up a tumblr blog to document things as we went, write the book, edit the book, design the book, get all of the necessities like ISBN numbers to make the book official, and ship the book off to the printer.

All of this with just Drew, myself, and seven days.

We said “go!”, and we set the project in motion. By the next day, we had the website up and taking pre-orders and we were on the blog announcing to the world what we were about to do. That was last Tuesday.

The Trash

The Trash Can

5 days after I started, I trashed the whole book and started over with only a few days to go.

Five days after starting the book, I trashed the whole book at 5am Saturday morning and started over from scratch. If writing a book in seven days wasn’t crazy enough, throwing it away with only a few days left must have been pure lunacy. I couldn’t help it though. Something in my gut was telling me that the book was going in the wrong direction. I was feeling inspired to do something special with the writing so I ran with it.

How to Write a Book in 3 Days

So there I was on Saturday morning at 5am and I absolutely had to write a book in 3 days. We had made a promise and a commitment and were held to it by the fact that we had already pre-sold thousands of dollars worth of books.

The table of contents

The table of contents for Execute.

Breaking Things Down

I immediately combed through all of the information and ideas that I had written down during my interview with Drew. After thinking through that much information, main ideas start to present themselves to you. Combining those main ideas with the natural progression of Drew’s actions and thoughts while building Space Box, gave me the structure I needed to build out the story.

I literally dissected the entire concept and ideas, and that’s what gave me the four main sections and twenty chapters of the book.

Enter iA Writer


iA Writer is the absolute best app in the world and it was my saving grace.

I truly believe that my goal of writing a book in 3 days would have never happened if it weren’t my favorite and trusted app, iA Writer. The pure and premium experience of writing with this app made writing under pressure an absolute joy.

I wrote and I wrote. The ideas were forming as I was going and I was absolutely high on inspiration. I started going through why inspiration was important, where it came from, how we could use it, how we could maintain it, and how it could lead to building an entire app in only 5 days.

My Biggest Ally

Time constraints are a funny thing. Even as early as our school days, we always operate with better focus when we have time constraints. Whether it was procrastinating on a book report or cramming for a test, the fact that it has to be done immediately can be our best friend when it comes to productivity. I finished the book because I had to and I believe the book is better because I was forced to be extremely focused. I broke down the twenty chapters in my head and compared them to the amount of time I had left. That gave me my reference for how long I had to spend on each chapter.

The sections

The design of the four sections of the book.


I’m proud to say that I finished writing the book this past Monday and the finished and final designed book was sent to the printer last night. It wasn’t easy but it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Most people say they want to write a book, and I’ve now successfully written two.

The act of writing this book was a testament to the book itself.

There is no better way to build the things you want to build, then to start building them the moment the inspiration hits.

The pull quotes

The design of the Execute pull quotes.

You can pre-order your copy of Execute by visiting ExecuteBook.com


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14 Responses to “How I Wrote a Book in 3 Days”

  1. Katherine on May 10, 2016 at 6:21 am said:

    I love it, I’m inspired, I am going to go write and write instead of thinking of other boring nitty gritty things that can wait! I have 5 days to complete first draft of my book, its a personal recount that is painful but cathartic for me. I have been trying to plan times to write but that has been failing dismally, I needed to read this thankyou 🙂

  2. What have you accomplished in the same length of time that’s of merit?

    • Anne_Ominous on May 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm said:

      Now THERE is the finest example of a straw-man argument I’ve seen in a long time.

      I could answer you, but I would rather not (read my name again). The second reason I shall not answer that question is that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with my comment.

      I didn’t chime in here in order to get into a pissing contest. I simply made an observation. You can like it or not, but a personal challenge is both irrelevant and inappropriate.

  3. Question: How many books have you written in your life? (whether they were of quality or not) And how many of those books that you’ve written, you wrote in less than 3 days?

    It’s funny how quick people are to critique someone when they’ve done…nothing. The whole premise of the book is acting, and actually executing on an idea. Not sitting on the sidelines as critics often do.

    • Anne_Ominous on May 10, 2013 at 3:11 pm said:

      I DID NOT CRITICIZE! I made a general observation. But if YOU are going to be so quick to publicly issue personal challenges when someone makes an observation, then I shall make another observation:

      If this is a demonstration of the level of your reading comprehension, I am not very inspired to give your writing ability a try.

  4. Richard on March 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm said:


    I keep bumping into people who ask is it REALLY possible to write a decent book in 3 days?!? And my answer has always been an emphatic “YES.”

    Josh is proof of 2 things: 1) Where there is commitment – – little can stand in someone’s way and, 2) It is absolutely possible to get quality information out in record time with the right tools and topic knowledge.

    Kudos Man! Keep up the great work.

    Richard Hart is a multiple award-winning author and trainer. He has authored 6 books and 3 training programs – – one of which is titled Finish That Book: how to write
    a quality book in a weekend.
    His primary claim to fame is Keep Your Daughter Safe: 171 Ways Young Women can Prevent Sexual Assault.
    He can be reached at info@FinishThatBook.com

  5. I found a great tool for laying out ebooks in a WP style. I used Press Books (http://pressbooks.com/) to layout my latest book, “Jenius” (http://jeniusbook.com).

  6. Thanks Ben! That means a lot to me!

  7. Haha! Honestly, I have 2 kids: 1 & 3. My wife was so mad that I was working on something else:) Now, she understands. I can’t stop!

  8. I would like to order a middle-age version of yourself. How much would that cost me? Can you please include tax and shipping costs in your reply? Maybe I should order two, just in case the first one malfunctions. Alright, than that would be- 2 middle-age versions of yourself. If this is not possible, can you please lead a middle-aged woman with an actual working logical brain in her head to where the thinkers like yourself might be hiding? I can’t dig anymore. I am losing my faith in humanity as a whole. Too much reality is hidden behind too too much false identity these days. Geezus how did I get on this ramble here? Oh, yeah, A.D.D. meds haven’t hit my brain yet… sigh. Great article. It was an inspiring read, which I rarely find anymore!

    • Thanks Michele! I would say you could pull a Michael Keaton “Multiplicity” stunt by deciding when you’re working and when you’re stalling. When I made an effort to do this, I *did* multiply myself:) Good luck on your journey!

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