“Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.” – Ray Bradbury
First things first: Why would anyone ever want to write a book in a month? What’s the rush? More importantly, how would it not suck gigantic badly written balls…am I right?
If you’re in the camp who believes good writing takes a long time to create, you’re definitely not alone.
There have been great books written in various amounts of time, for as long as books have been written. Some writers are fast. Some are slow. It’s not really about how long it takes.
It’s about consistency.
I realized something last year, as I was killing myself to produce content for other people. I’m a fast writer. A really fast writer. I can produce a shitload of content, lightning fast. I wrote so many words last year, the letters on my keyboard rubbed off. (True story.)
So, why wasn’t I taking one of my own hottest commodities and applying it to myself?
Finally, that’s exactly what I did.
As I’ve written about, I gave myself the last two months of getting paid from my corporate job to write my novel. I finally had a story to tell and a sense of urgency to tell it, so I went after it with everything that I had.
In four weeks, I was sitting with a solid first draft in my hands, asking myself, “How the fuck did I just do that?”
In a word? Momentum.
I realized that, for myself, it’s all about momentum. If someone compliments me on my arms and asks if I work out, I say, “Oh, yeah. Only every day. Thank you for noticing!”
I go to the gym daily, because if I don’t, then I won’t. If I don’t have momentum, I’m not motivated. If I’m not motivated, I’ll look like this:
When you set a lofty goal for yourself, two things happen:
1. You hit it.
2. You find ways not to hit it, and all the time you spend bitching and moaning about not meeting this impossible deadline, you could have just been hitting the damn deadline.
So, say you really do want to write a book in a month. You want to get it done, get the first draft down and worry about the “is-this-fucking-terrible?” question later.
While everyone has their own agenda and process, this is how I did it. And to prove it’s not a fluke, I’m currently 230 pages in on my second book. I’ve only been “in deep” for a few weeks, after I hit a lull, stepped away and gave myself permission to think about it. And then, everything started to flow. (And this is while doing three other writing gigs, being a full-time mommy-chauffeur-housekeeper-chef-wife too.)
You have the time—trust me. You just have to have momentum.
1. SET A DAILY WORD COUNT.
You might ask yourself: What’s word count got to do with it? Well, I’m anal, for one, and I like to pay attention to word count, because it makes me feel good about life. I hit my word count! I get to cross that off the list!
It’s also easy to measure your progress via word count. If your novel is going to be roughly 80,000 words, it’s easy to work backwards to figure out your daily goal.
You have two options:
The first: Write 5,000 words a day for FOUR days per week. That means you have three days every week to bitch and moan, to work on real life stuff, or, even more productively, to step away from your book and just think about it. The good stuff in my novel was written in the moments I backed off, took a bike ride, a walk, had a conversation about it with someone who wasn’t a writer, did a yoga class, took a long drive and then, “Bam!” Clarity.
So, how much is 5000 words? It’s 10 pages single-spaced or 20 pages double-spaced. That might be a jaw-dropping amount to some, but when you decide to write a complete scene or chapter, you’ll find 20 pages goes quick.
The second: Write 2500 words per day, every day, for thirty days. Your choice.
2. BREAK UP YOUR WRITING SESSIONS.
To achieve this goal, break it up. If I sit down and tell myself, “I have to write 5000 words before I can do anything else today,” I will tell myself to go fuck myself and then pour a cup of coffee and do anything but write.
You have to be realistic. Once the little one is off to school, I sit down, check any emails so I’m not obsessing about them, have my breakfast and coffee and then I read a few pages from the day before to get myself in the writing mentality. And then I dive in for about two hours, no more.
If you break up you morning session into 2500 words, go about your day and then come back to it at night (instead of sitting in front of the television, eating snacks and drooling), you can easily tackle another 2500 words before bed.
3. STAY CONSISTENT.
I don’t care how you break up your four days of writing, but write at least four days per week. For four weeks. You are only committing to four lousy weeks—which is only one month of your entire life!—so you owe it to yourself to hit 20,000 words at the end of the week, and 80,000 words at the end of the month. And then you have a book. Ta-da!
4. TELL EVERYONE.
Tell everyone you know you’re writing a book in a month. Then write about that. Post it on social media. Make a countdown. Have an “I wrote a book in a month!” party. Whatever it takes to keep your ass on the line, do it.
If it helps to outline your book before you begin, or take on my handy index card trick, do that. But sometimes, we think about ideas for so long or we say we have no idea how to write or get it done, when we could just be…getting it done.
If you have ever said, “I want to write a book,” then write the book. Write it in a month. You can spend the next three years of your life ripping it apart or editing it or shove it away in a drawer, but you will have written it.
You will have met your goal and gotten it done.