I write a book in a month. Imagine saying that. It sounds ridiculous. It almost sounds impossible. If you do some research into the daily writing routines of the most famous of authors, you will find that, more often than not, their process is a marathon not a sprint.
You will see word counts of 1,000, 500 and sometimes as low as 200 or 300 words per day. To write a full-length novel in one month, your word count would have to be closer to 2000-3000 per day. Every day! That is no small task and it can be incredibly daunting.
Now, I will say quickly that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your time. Some argue that it is better to write a few hundred words at a time and not rush through. I won’t tell you that one way is better than another, I will only comment on my process and my experience.
If you need to go slow to get it right, then by all means, GO SLOW. It is better to get it right than to rush through it just for the sake of getting through it fast and then have to spend countless hours fixing all of the mistakes. However, there are writers out there who are able to bust out thousands of words a day without negative impact.
Here’s the thing. Some writers have gotten to a point in their career where they are able to write full time. This makes a huge difference to these tips because having complete flexibility in when or how long to write throughout the day should make getting the words down much easier.
For those of us who are juggling all of the plates that life serves up, mainly a full time job , in addition to finding time to write, here are five tips to help get your latest work-in-progress done in a flash.
1. Finding Your Perfect Writing Time
You need to find YOUR time. Pause. When I say your time, I don’t mean the fifteen minutes that you have between getting home from work and having to leave to pick up the kids from soccer practice. That is time that has just fallen into your lap and another tip is going to discuss creating time.
What I mean by your time is the time of day or night when you write best. When the words flow out of you easily and the story builds itself as you go. Personally, I find that I am most creative early in the morning and I have a much easier time putting out large word counts than I do in the afternoons.
Are you most creative at 4:00am? Or are you more creative at 11:00pm or midnight? You have to find what that time is for you. The best way to do that is to start by taking advantage of all of the time slots that are available to you. Get up early and write, then go about your day, then come back and write again at night.
It will become apparent very quickly which is best for you. It could even be somewhere in the middle of the day and that is perfectly fine as well. There is no right or wrong answer, the key is finding the time when you can flow and be the most productive so that it doesn’t take fifteen years to complete your manuscript!
2. You Must Create Time
I don’t have time. How many times a day do you hear that? Ten? Twenty? I hear it all of the time. The truth is that the people who claim they don’t have time will never be able to make time. They have already decided that they don’t have it and therefore have essentially given up.
You DO have time. Twenty-four hours is a lot of time. Have you ever been to the doctor? Silly question maybe. Most of us have. If you have, good, this example will make perfect sense. If not…uhhhh you need to do that probably. Get yourself checked out. Might explain that rash. HAHA. Just kidding. Unless of course you have a rash. Then I’m not. See a doctor.
Back to my example.
Your appointment is at 3:30pm. You show up at 3:20pm good-spirited, early-arriving citizen that you are. You then proceed to wait for 45 minutes in the waiting room for the nurse to come and retrieve you. It doesn’t end there though does it?
No. It does not. You then go back to the room; the nurse asks some preliminary questions then you wait another 20 minutes for Doc to show up. Now, we are talking about a total of 65 minutes unless my cornfield math is incorrect (I literally went to high school in a corn field so give me some slack).
No, I just put it in the calculator. It’s 65 minutes.
65 minutes of your life GONE. But it didn’t flash by you at the speed of light did it? Psh! We wish. No, it was agony. Because you watched the clock on the wall for 65 minutes and every minute felt like a lifetime.
This is a great example of how LONG a day can be and you can get so much more done in that day than you think. You can get a tremendous amount of work done! You can be so incredibly productive.
Look at people like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, Ellen, Oprah, JK Rowling. What do they all have in common aside from massive wealth? They are all machines. They MAKE time for the things they need to be involved in. These people get more done in an afternoon than most people will get done in a week.
It’s because they understand that you can create time. You can get up earlier, go to bed later, shift things around in your schedule or take things out of your schedule all together! I am not saying that it will come without cost, but you can do it just like these amazing entrepreneurs have done.
3. Write About Something That Interests You
A sure-fire way to find yourself sitting in front of your computer with your writing software pulled up and not a single freaking word on the page is to write about something that does not excite you.
Some people claim that you need to write for the reader and some claim that you need to write for yourself. I am a hybrid. I think you need to write for yourself first, with the reader in mind. Here is why.
If the story doesn’t interest you, odds are it will not have your complete attention and therefore will not get your absolute best and in turn the reader will not get your best. You have to write for yourself first because that is what enables you to finish the thing!
Most of us write because we love it and we love it because we love telling a story. We love exploring things in a different light. We love digging into concepts in ways that haven’t been done before. Personally, I love it because I am able to tell the story that I, myself am excited about. I am excited to find out how it ends up!
This excitement keeps me interested, invested and motivated to complete it. I wake up and I cannot wait to get to the laptop so I can find out what is going to happen next and the result is a manuscript that gets finished in an amazingly short amount of time.
4. Forbid Distractions
This one might seem like a give-me, but it is important to include. You don’t need to just avoid distractions, you need to FORBID distractions. This is why I love writing in the morning. I am working while everyone else is still asleep.
The problem with the afternoons, at least for me, is that there are far too many distractions and it is much harder to forbid them. For me to write in the afternoon, I have to have my cell phone turned off, which I hate doing because you never know when there might be an emergency.
I have to work with the internet disconnected. I can’t have any TV’s on around me and sometimes I even have to leave my apartment. Music isn’t terrible, but I would prefer that it be quiet. Something about the keyboard clicking soothes me. I know, I’m a damn weirdo, it’s ok.
You need to figure out what the no-nos are in your world. Figure out what things are definitely going to get in the way of your writing, and remove them during that time. This could even be your own family! Go into a room, lock the door, and don’t unlock it until you’re done. That is your time and you are not to be disturbed. They wouldn’t disturb you while you were working at a corporate job, why would it be okay to disturb you now?
This has to mean enough to you that you can get to this level of commitment and decide that this is important to you! It isn’t just a hobby. This is something that you love and something that you are going to force your life to make room for!
5. Have a Plan
I am what you would call a pantser. This means that I write by the seat of my pants and, more often than not, I don’t know for sure where the story is headed until I write it. You can be this way too!
However, you need to have a writing plan if you are going to be so prolific that you are writing an entire novel in a month’s time. The best way to go about it, in my experience, is to come up with an idea of how many words the book is going to be. Then divide that by the number of days you have to write.
So if your book is going to be 60,000 words and you have 30 days to write it, that is 2,000 words per day. So knowing that, you need to plan out your month. Look at the weeks and identify days where 2,000 words is going to be a problem. For those days, you will have to distribute that day’s words to other days.
Once you have gone through the month, I recommend having a physical calendar. Something physical that you look at every day. Plan out your word counts for each day and then set your deadline. Once that deadline is set, you must keep it sacred.
This should be treated like any other deadline such as bills, taxes, mortgage payment etc. This is not a soft deadline.
These are my five tips for banging out a book in a month’s time. I want it to be clear that I understand that this is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to write quickly and that is perfectly fine! I have said it before and I will say it a million more times. The greatest thing about our line of work is that there are no rules!
You can spend ten years on your manuscript and there is nothing wrong with that. However, there are also writers out there who, like myself, are impatient and like to work quickly! If that is you, the tips above are some of the best advice I can give to working quickly.
Side note, don’t forget that the above only apply to WRITING the book. Editing, publishing, promoting, etc. are a whole different story and have their own timelines. Let me know in comments if you are interested in seeing more posts regarding these things and I will get right on it!
Alright. I think I’m done. This has been a little bit of a longer post, but I think it was important! If not, tell me to go screw myself in the comments. Hahaha. Look, whatever your goals are I hope you are going after them. I hope that you are acting aggressively to achieve them and I hope they come true for you soon! If you are someone who is fighting for the life or career that you want, I am proud of you. You can do this! Keep going and don’t stop until you get whatever it is that you are chasing!