Writing a Book – A 3 year journey

Writing a Book – A 3 year journey
8th November 2018 Neil

The sun was low in the sky, the temperature around minus 35 degrees centigrade. The whole scene was one of still, frozen whiteness. There were few sounds apart from the crunch, crunch, crunch of my feet on the hard-packed snow and the scraping of my pulk behind me. 

30 hours earlier, I had crossed the start line of the 2015 Yukon Arctic Ultra. I had just been through one of the toughest and scariest nights of my life – a night that I didn’t realise would change my life for ever. But somehow I had done it, and I was now 70-odd miles into the 300-mile race.
As the sun was sinking lower in the sky, and I was pushing on through yet another mile, I started to think.

What is it that allows me to keep achieving these big physical challenges?

How do I keep finding a way to break through mental and physical barriers?

What’s the secret formula?

It was during this afternoon and evening that the “7P” Formula To Achieve Any Big Goal started to take shape.

I had 5 more days in the Yukon to really think hard about these questions and as I walked, I started to realise that I had a lifetime of experience in the military, extreme sports and business to draw upon.

Why Write a Book?

During the past 25 years, I have regularly taken on “big goals” – ones that made me feel scared, nervous, apprehensive and even a bit sick in the gut. These were goals that enabled me to grow and develop as a person in all areas of my life. Each of them felt like a big stretch at the time, something that was well outside my comfort zone but whenever I made the commitment to go for one of them I fully focused and gave it everything I had.

The decision I made in the Yukon was that I needed to find a way to help other people to achieve their “Big Goal”, whatever that may be, in whatever area of their life.

I had been coaching people 1:1 and speaking in front of big audiences as a key note speaker for many years but now I needed to work out how could I get my insight and experiences to even more people.

So I decided to write a book that anyone could access anywhere at any time.

Writing A Book……………………..

I don’t know about you but the thought of writing a book was overwhelming when I started. It was scary to think that what I would write others might read and critique. It was overwhelming to think of the enormity of pulling the structure of a book together so that it would keep the reader engaged, while informing them and giving them tools they could use. I had a massive knowledge gap – how do you go from an idea of a book to actually writing the manuscript and publishing it and then marketing it? All of this was completely unknown to me.

Given the subject of the book, how to achieve any Big Goal, and that for me writing a book was a huge goal not just a Big Goal, I figured I needed to use my own formula to enable me to succeed.

The 7P Formula for Writing Yu can

Purpose – My purpose in writing the book, as I mentioned earlier, was to help others take on and succeed in achieving their Big Goals.

Prepare – given my knowledge of writing a book was zero, I spoke to several people who had published or self-published books. Luckily I found some great guidance (in the form of my youngest daughter Hollie who was going through the process of publishing her 1st novel) and was directed to Amazon Createspace which made the process of publishing a book very easy.

I also decided that I needed to work with someone who had experience of writing books so that the structure of the book took a shape that would make it a good read, rather than just a chronological account of my Yukon challenge – I did this, then this and this happened! – I found Julie-Anne Amos.

I then found out that a good friend and a wife to one of my coaches does book setting as a job.

Enter Charlotte Mouncey.

It is amazing that when you set a Big Goal that the right mentors, teachers and experts start to appear.

I also decided that I needed to test what I had to say in order to make sure that it wasn’t just a good idea in my mind. So I started writing Blogs on Linkedin around each of the Ps in the 7P formula. The feedback and comments was excellent.

I felt ready to go.

Plan – By the end of 2016 I was ready to start writing and I wrote a plan with Julie-Anne of how much I would write each week and month. I decided what stories I needed to remember and develop. I built a structure for the book, how I wanted the book to flow and each chapter to shape up.

Pledge – I don’t remember the exact moment when I pledged that this was now a “must and not a might”, but it happened, because I suddenly became committed to delivering on the milestones we had set. In fact as we started the process I wanted to shorten the timescales and make it happen
even quicker.

My mindset had shifted away from the constant “I should do this” to “I must do this”.

Perception – My dashboard to know that I was on track was pretty simple. Are we hitting the milestones and are the milestones moving us in the right direction?

The part of the plan that I had not anticipated properly was how long and how hard it was to proof read and re-write sections of the book. This probably took as long, if not longer, than writing the main content of the book. I hadn’t thought of this or planned for it, so I had to adjust my thinking
and my plan so that I kept on track and did not lose motivation.

Pain – Writing a book takes a massive amount of self-discipline and focus. It is really easy to find reasons to not sit down and write, to not do the research and to not deliver on milestones.

Clearly my background in having to be disciplined in order to get ready for major foot races helped, but I am not an academic and to sit down and write was as hard for me as it is for someone who hates running.

My pain strategies were varied, but included:
Writing in stunning locations whenever I could. In August 2017, Anna and I went to Tuscany to a self-catered cottage in the hills high above a village. It was very remote with a stunning view. While Anna sun bathed all day I sat under the shade writing and re-writing all the main chapters of the book. The view was amazing and the environment perfect.

I gave myself rewards whenever I achieved a small step – I might get up and go for a coffee, go for a run, walk about, watch TV for a while, anything that would clear my mind for 30 minutes or so.

I had my support team around me with Anna encouraging me, my friends supporting me and Julie-Anne helping me through the process and any blockers that arose (she had seen them all before).

I did use visualisation and affirmation to drive into my subconscious the importance that this book would have on helping other people.

Persistence – My persistence strategy was to keep focused on my purpose. I needed to keep going and get the book finished so that I could help others achieve their Big Goals.

In a 7p nutshell, that is the journey of how I planned, persisted and achieved one of my Big Goals:


It has now been published in Romanian and sold over 1000 copies – paperback and on kindle. In August 2018, it amazingly became the best seller on Amazon Kindle for Personal Development.

I wrote the book because I wanted to help more people set and achieve their Big Goals. I am delighted to have received feedback that it is working.


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