Can you help me with my new book?

Korean versionWhen I was writing my first book Screw Work Let’s Play, I knew I loved writing it, I knew it felt like play, I knew I was doing the best job I could on it, and I knew I was writing about ideas that I thought were worth spreading.

But I really didn’t know if my book was, well, “good”. Would it sell? Would other people think I could write? Would it work for the reader? Would people be as excited about the ideas in it as I am?

Well, it’s been a hell of a ride over the last 18 months since then.

I was delighted (and more surprised than anyone else) to find Screw Work go straight into the WHSmith top 20 and the Amazon bestseller list (at one point becoming their bestselling book on entrepreneurship). The book received great reviews in the Times and Sunday Times (and several other papers and mags) and on Amazon attracted 32 five star reviews (and 2 people who hate it!)

Screw Work has now been translated into 7 languages. The Dutch and Korean versions are out now with Italian, Czech, Russian, Marathi, and Thai versions all due next year (you can see all the versions here). In June, the book will be published in the US (and hopefully, at long last, a Kindle version will also appear).

I’ve had a lot of fun (and learned loads) over the last 18 months – I’ve run programmes based on the book to help 100s of people to make their ideas happen and I’ve had 500 people attend my London event, Scanners Night.

If you’ve bought my book or taken part in one of my events or programmes, thank you. I genuinely believe the ideas we’re putting into practice constitute the next stage of the evolution of work. With the current state of the world, we need this now more than ever – a new wave of people doing something of real value, that they love doing, and really care about.

If you have friends who are unhappy in their work that you know could benefit from a bit of ‘player’ thinking, you can still get copies of Screw Work Let’s Play from Amazon in time for Christmas:

Amazon UK |  All other countries and editions

My second book

And now I’ve started again. Earlier this year, I opened a blank Microsoft Word document and called it “Book 2”. Now that document has 20,000 words in it and a publication date of Autumn 2012.

The topic of this new book is “How to write a book, start a business, or change the world in 30 days” and I want your help with it.

I want your stories

One of the greatest pleasures of writing a book is seeing what others do with it. Every week I get tweets or emails from people who have been inspired by Screw Work to create something really special to them –

Anna quit her job, won her first portrait commission, and then ended up with a solo exhibition.

Dave changed his work and moved to the opposite side of the world (from London to Sydney) at the same time.

Harry and his brother decided to kite buggy 1000 km up the coast of Brazil and raised over £2000 for Centrepoint along the way

I’d love to hear more – whether it’s a big change or just your first small step. If my book has helped you to change your work, start a business, or launch a creative project you really care about, let me know. Please post your story (as succinctly as possible) as a comment here and include a website address. I might even use you as an example in my new book!

What do you most want me to write about?

I’m going to be blogging here on the topic of the new book over the next few months and I would love your input – what would you most like to read in my next book? What have you learned in your journey to do what you love that is important for others to know?

Leave a brief comment and let me know – you’ll be helping me to make sure I’m on the right track, addressing what people most need. No question is too small, too big or too dumb (honestly, we’d all be a lot better off if people dared to ask the obvious questions more often).


PS. If you’d like to meet me in person, I’ll be running the last Scanners Night of the year this Wednesday, 14 December. Join us and find out “How to do the impossible”. You can now attend for just £1 (or if you’re not in London, get the recording)

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  • Hi John, Your book led me to start my blog about inventing From that starting point I started interviewing other inventors and created a podcast, made a couple of likeminded friends (people I interviewed) and licensed my first idea.

  • Allison

    Hi John. 

    After doing the 30 day challenge and then the longer SWLP course I decided to go back to my real love which was working in the music field – the book and your courses made me realise that this was the only time I was really in flow.  So with that in mind I took on an ambitious project, I decided to commerate 20 years since the passing of the late, great Freddie Mercury by staging a tribute concert in his honour.  The other thing which was important to me is that I did this for no money – all profits were going to the Mercury Phoneix Trust and I was not making a penny – I wanted to see if this made any difference to the way I approached my work.

    From this very initial acorn of a little idea grew a mighty oak – me and 2 friends sourced the venue, booked the musicians and before we knew it had sold out 1200 tickets at Clapham Grand in London.  1 week before the show we got a call saying Brian May from Queen wanted to come down and play and that he did – opening the show to a packed, emotional crowd who had no idea he was going to be in attendance!  You can see the moment of surprise halfway through this video.

    I have never felt such a feeling of accomplishment and was able to deal with everything that came at me because for the first time in years I felt truly in flow.  It has inspired me to go back to my roots so in 2012 I will be planning an onslaught to the venues of London!  Couldn’t (or wouldn’t) have done it without SWLP…



  • Anonymous

    That’s brilliant Tara! Can you what it is you’ve licensed? BTW I am meeting the wonderful Suck UK today at their design studio in East London – I think you’d like them!

  • Anonymous

    That is amazing Allison! I’m so impressed. And really glad we’ve helped you get more and more into flow.

  • Anne

    Hi John!

    Really excited to hear there’s a second book coming… 

    Reading the first book and doing the SWLP this summer helped me tremendously in launching my own business (a web shop). Though the whole process of the SWLP was beneficial, the tools I’ve since used the most are: making appointments with myself and showing up for all of them (!), micro-blocking as soon as I reach a tough spot so I just get on with it and don’t dither endlessly, recognizing when I’m in or out of flow – and delegating the stuff that’s not my flow.

    I’m still learning and still growing and the ideas in your book still help in moving me along. I would love to learn more ways to get over yourself and manage your Top Dog, as that seems to be the biggest stumbling block – for me, at least…

    Thanks for all the inspiration,

    PS: My Play Project in the SWLP was a styling booklet, and it’s currently being translated into Danish as a recruitment tool for my newsletter at my Danish web shop I’m so so proud of myself for getting this far 🙂

  • Hi John, It’s a very simple sweet/candy ideas which I have licensed to a company in the US. I can’t say more at the moment as they are still working on it.

  • Claire

    I have learnt to apply a ‘half hour rule’ and managed to lose a stone and a half and write the first draft of a book in the process. I’m also teaching myself flamenco guitar half an hour at a time! 

    Its not the half hour, its the telling yourself that you only need to sit down to write for half an hour or only need to go to the gym for half an hour. What happened with the writing was, more often than not, I stayed for longer and got more done. 

    Gym-wise, I worked out four half hour’s a week and calorie controlled my diet. It worked even though I hate going to the gym because half an hour is over in a flash!

  • Aneta

    Hi John,

    Re: your new book, I’d most like to read on how not to lose the momentum, which is where I got stuck. After a very sucessful, I thought, 30DC with yourself and Selina, I did not really follow through with my project – I somehow haven’t been able to juggle all the stuff like paid work, studies, relationships AND my play project leading to playcheques. Still trying but feel like I lost it and will have to start all over.

  • Harrynt

    Thanks for the mention John! Web address is http://www.kitebuggyadventure.comThe new book sounds great, look forward to hearing about it and reading it. If it’s around the context of doing something in 30 days (the amount of time it takes to form a habit?!) then perhaps something on prioritisation would be good. Pareto’s rule has been well covered but it would be worth mentioning, particularly with regard to taking in information. I have a lot of books that I can’t quite find the time to read, and like many others often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information there is to get through every day, from emails to blogs to books etc. And then even once you’ve read it acting on the info is a different matter! That’s not to say that your new book will ‘add to the clutter’ – if it’s anything like screw work let’s play it will be a lively, insightful, and concise work that will promote action.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Harry – that’s useful to know. And I encourage everyone to check out your

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Aneta. I suspect you need someone to hold you accountable, otherwise it’s just down to you.

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant Claire – well done!

  • Anonymous

    Nice to hear from you Anne – great site!

  • Anonymous

    Great. Let us know when it’s public

  • Andrea

    Seriously stuck – and fed up with the stock answers.
    How do you start a ‘movement’ when you are out of the mainstream, have NO ‘passion’ for making massive amounts of money, clash miserably with the strand of people who gravitate toward not-for-profit, and dread bosses?

    Oh.  And can’t see why I ‘should’ change as any sort of unrewarded prerequisite.

    Plus side – I seem to have talents for simplifying, improvising, clearing project log jams, and working relentlessly (without insanity or burnout).

    PS I am a longtime Sher-boarder, and have faithfully and fully done ALL the exercises in ‘Live the Life You Love’, been through ‘Wishcraft’ live, and done all your exercises, and I’m still stuck.

  • Justine

    Hi John, to add into your new book if you wish 🙂

    After finishing university a few years back, I decided to become an entrepreneur, and in early 2009 I turned my full-time job into a part-time contractor opportunity where I received the same pay with less responsibility. I was making the same money in three days than what my colleagues would make in five days. As a result I was able to grow my natural therapies practice, where with only a couple of clients a week I was able to charge $250 an hour for my services, and started writing my manuscripts, of which I am up to my fourth now. Still working on getting these published though. That bit isn’t going so well at the moment; however 2012 is my year there. And in that same year I lived in London briefly and received a scholarship to study Internet Marketing. Early this year (2011) I re-located from Sydney to Melbourne, and to help me settle in (thankfully it was only temporary) I was working in the corporate world full-time, and I then read “Screw Work Let’s Play” and it edified to me what I already knew, and was a great kick in the pants to become self-employed again; so my new play project became leisure and lifestyle writing. I have done this since September, and I have been writing articles and reviews for publication in Melbourne and Sydney for two online companies since; so I now get paid to travel to Sydney frequently and also spend time with my family there. This is still going strong. I am now ranked in the top 8 for all of Melbourne in the leisure and lifestyle writing category where I started as ranked 300 three months ago, and my articles are now generating me a passive income where each article pays a bit of cash into my account every month for two years, and I have received six invitations from leisure providers to experience their services for free (from half a days bike riding, to learning how to make soaps to attending theatre concerts and free film sessions) in exchange for an article which generates me passive income for the next two years. Furthermore, an opportunity has come for me to be an event manager for the same company I currently write for in the new year. I am definitely a “scanner” where I need to do a few different tasks on the go, otherwise I get bored. Also for the last week I have been a freelance journalist for another client. 

    The wealth dynamics profile was also handy to do once again. I did it ages ago, I was a “lord” yet having done it a few months ago, I found that I am now a “creator” and no surprises there. It is great. I live in an apartment right in the city. I am currently working from home in my PJ’s. I have pool, gym and spa access at my apartment. I fly business class on every second flight, and through being a “player” I really live an abundant life with an investment portfolio of property, shares and now a great business and I am only 31. 

    Some of my articles can be found right here. Please feel free to read, subscribe and share:

    Thank you so much



  • Anonymous

    At what point are you stuck Andrea? Have you run a 30 day play project yet or are you still thinking? In which case a switch from planning to doing might tip the balance.
    What is the movement you want to start?

  • Hi John, I enjoy your SWLP blogs very much by the way. So what would I like you to write about? The self-publishing print book options. I’m currently looking to self-publish my novel and am curious about life beyond lulu! There must be more options as the Lulu margin per book seems low and I want to direct people to Amazon to buy my book from my own -soon-to-launch blog. So I am going to go with createspace, which is an Amazon affiliated or owned company. Again, it’s a bit of a gamble….so well that’s what I’d like more on..I’d be happy to share my self-publishing experiences when I’m done too if that’s of use? Nualan, Dublin, Ireland.

  • Claire Hughes

    Hi John,
    At the beginning of last year I was fed up and felt my life had no focus, was all about work and being a mum. I bought your book as a Christmas present for my boyfriend, and ended up reading it myself. Then I did the SWLP program – a massive investment at the time and I felt very guilty about investing in myself. But I can honestly say it kicked-off a huge change in my life. To cut a long story short – I got clear on what I wanted my life to be about, identified my skills, kicked some bad habits, learned some good ones…..and basically got my self confidence and focus back. 

    I have since completed two 30 Day Challenges, started a new business and together with a friend, just launched the first-ever marketing e-course for craft sellers in the UK: The whole journey has been so satisfying and a huge amount of fun (and of course, hard work). 

    So thank you so much to you and Selina for inspiring an amazing year! I really appreciate everything you have taught me. 

    Oh and PS – my other half still hasn’t read the book as he “doesn’t believe in self help”. More fool him! 🙂 

  • Anonymous

    Yes please do tell us how you get on. I hear however that createspace is  where people to graduate to after Lulu etc so I reckon it should be good.

  • Linda Poort

    John, I really loved (the Dutch version of) your book. I wrote reviews for several websites (,,,

    I was already a freelancer when I read the book, but I got more active after reading it ( To get to play even more, I started a travel writing course, set up a website ( and right now I’m slowly working on integrating travel writing as part of my business. I’m really looking forward to 2012!

    I’m also looking forward to your new book. I’m especially interested in the ‘How to write a book’-part. I know it’s a dream for very many people to write one.. I’m thinking of putting my experiences from living abroad in a book set up as a work book. There are already many sources to fall back on, but I’m interested in your point of view and tips 🙂

    Good luck with the writing, and.. happy blogging!

  • Lizzy

    SWLP was a guidebook to me as I planned
    my escape from the corporate world. It gave me the faith to follow my gut
    instinct to do what I love playing at. Now I understand why it’s a formula that
    works – simply because that’s the way we humans are designed. We thrive when we’re
    doing what we know deep down what were destined to be doing.


    I’d always loved photography and I’ve
    spent years taking photos and taking photography courses…and I volunteered
    for the charity Raleigh where I realised how much I loved spending time with
    kids….and I knew I wanted to make a living enjoying what I was doing. So I
    started playing taking portraits of friends and their families to build up my
    portfolio… and they loved the photos (but I was still unsure as friends can
    be too kind). So I set up my website and friends of friends and then people I
    met by being out there and chatting about what I do asked me to do their photo
    shoots…and amazingly to me everyone loves my work. So I now have a portrait
    photography business and can’t quite believe it’s working so well (I haven’t
    even advertised as yet). Thank you for everything John!

  • Rachel

    Hi John

    I bought your book for my son who was thinking about setting up his own business – started to read it and loved it so much I kept it and had to buy another for him!
    We have both now started our own businesses, following all the advice in your book, and are loving every minute – he was so excited when he came to me and said ‘hey mum I’ve just received my first playcheque!’

    Once you start following the right path things seem to fall into place and opportunities arise. I set up my business hiring vintage china as a direct result of reading your book . I then set up a blog and have now set up a food blog

    I would really love to write a recipe book or vintage style book and I really need to get focussed. I feel like I have started to build a ‘brand’ and have a very small following but I need to take it to the next level. I also need to explore whether I can make some money to live on!

  • Belinda

    Thank you John for the inspiration I needed…
    After giving it all up to go travelling for a year and then move to Ibiza from the UK… I had been taking it a little too easy and relaxing a little too much on the beach. Your book gave me the jump start I needed to play a little more and get focused at what I do best. The results…
    and I am in the middle of editing my first book…
    and I am playing with more projects… definitely not feeling like work… this IS play!.

  • Cillabella

    Dear John,
    You don’t know how much your book has affected me, it hit me like a bomb!  I am reading it over and over, and I just can’t believe how generous you are in it.  First of all you have given me permission to be the center of my life, because I have always known I was a genious, but I have always felt that I was not allowed to be just that.  SO I’ve been an assistant for the last 25 years, with a 3 hour daily commute! Can you believe that?  And thanks to you, and this permission, I have started ferociously indulging in my passion for knitting and sewing, and have just recently received my FIRST PAID ORDER for a pair of fair-isle slippers, which I have been requested to knit for the price of 90 EUROS!  Now that means that someone really respects my talent and my work! it just blows me away!
    I haven’t quit my job YET, because I am also going to start organizing weekly getaways in my country house for people who want to , well, knit; or do yoga; or write, or do any creative thing:  Ever since I read your book, I am constantly meeting people who are enthused about my idea and who offer me help.  It’s just amawing!  As if some cooped up force has been let loose and just won’t stop.
    I followed your advice and created a blog but it isn’t very populated yet.  However I am reading other people’s blogs like crazy, including and meeting all these talented people doing their thing.  It’s so exciting!
      Let me just say THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU!!!

  • Anonymous

    Wow, well done Cillabella! Congrats on your first playcheque.

  • This is brilliant Rachel! Great website you’ve built for You might like a client of mine’s Vintage book business

  • That’s wonderful Lizzy! Great photos too.

  • Thankyou for all the reviews of the Dutch version Linda. Hope 2012 is even more playful for you…

  • Thanks Claire! It’s been fun having you along on the SWLP journey and seeing what you’ve created. Perhaps I should consult you on the Etsy bit of the book…

  • Thanks Steve. I like your stuff – Freeze & Wreck Shop particularly.

  • That’s great Clare. Bali was my first little location independence experiment in 2011. Where are you off to next? Ooh Oswestry perhaps from looking at your blog…

  • Jason

    Loved the first book, but please please can we have a Kindle / iBooks version next time.

  • Hi Jason. I don’t control that unfortunately, the publisher does. A kindle version is due of SWLP before too soon and the kindle version of the next book will not be so delayed!