Some methods to write a book in a month without losing your mind. Maybe just a smidge of the prefrontal cortex, but not the whole brain. These are just some of my working habits and tips that I’ve been perfecting recently during my personal attempts to accomplish THE NOVEL. Of course you can alter them as needed, but hopefully these ideas may help to encourage you with your goals.
This type of self-challenge is best for novellas, average length novels, or compilations. Epics and doorstoppers, I would not attempt in a month unless you genuinely are some sort of linguistic masochist who never sleeps or eats at all.
The golden key to completing any piece of writing is persistence. A book written in a month will probably not be very great, honestly, but you will at least have a complete book, which there will be plenty of time afterward to revise. Worry more about getting from beginning to end, with anything you need to guide you – checklists and outlines to mark your progress, word counters, even reading your freshly written chapters to your friends as you go. You have to want that book to exist, and whatever helps to keep that emotion rolling, do it. Don’t get caught up in the chaos of details until the editing stage. You can also hire professional editors and proofreaders to do this for you, but it is best to at least redo your book once by yourself, with great carefulness.
You’re probably aware of the NaNoWriMo project, which challenges authors to finish at least a novella-length book over the course of one November. There is no reason you can’t do this during other months of the year, however. November is often quite hectic for me so I chose January, February and March to be my major writing months, during which I will try to complete at least one work per month. I mean, what else am I going to do. Everything is pretty much a chunk of ice and sludge until April.
Others usually have busier schedules than I do, however, so setting realistic goals is vital. These are some reasonable goals I’ve made for myself that allow room for any holidays, illnesses, and other short-term interruptions that may crop up, and will still produce the majority of a full book. They all take little time to meet, so even if you only can find the quiet to write after midnight, you won’t be strained to complete the daily “page limit”.
- For novels – 5 pages a day [est. time is 1-2 hours, produces 150 pages per 30 days]
- For poetry – 4-7 poems a day [est. time is 1-3 hours, produces up to 210 poems per 30 days]
- For short stories – 2-4 pages a day [est. time is 1-2 hours, produces up to 90 pages per 30 days]
Once you get adjusted to writing each day, it’s no longer daunting at all. Remember, this is one profession where you can actually do, for the most part, whatever you want. It’s something to look forward to, not dread. You’ll likely go over the “page limit” you set several times.
Writing is somewhat like exercise. If you’ve not done it for a long time, the thought of it will make you instantly apathetic and sluggish and you’ll procrastinate, but if you force yourself into the habit it doesn’t take long to become extremely fun.
A solid method of getting back into it is in the plotting stage alone, where you’re just toying around with what you want to include in your novel or what you want its purpose to be. Detailed outlines are also a fantastic way to cut out some of the gratuitous ideas and plot holes before you end up including them, which can save quite a bit of time.
I cannot stress this enough, but do not fret too much on the first draft. Everyone’s first drafts are kind of crappy, to some degree. Don’t let a synonym hold you back, either. If you think something else would work better in a certain word’s place, underline it and revisit it when it’s been finished.
I am currently working on both a poetry and short stories compilation for January. The short stories were partly completed back in 2016, but I’ve reworked them so much it’s basically a different collection. Brief writing such as poetry is very effective in keeping your imagination active.
I learned my lesson with the tumultuous publication of Loverboy in setting strict dates on something you have no particular obligation to publish. You will end up stressing yourself to tears if you try to crank a book out before it’s ready, and I’m positive you’ve seen professional literature from big-name authors that suffered because of their constrictive deadlines. Another reason not to like the mainstream publishing industry, if one really needed any more. But you definitely shouldn’t do this to yourself.
The monthly challenge is only there to help you complete something you wouldn’t have otherwise. If you have to stretch it to two months, nobody is going to reprimand you for it. This is only to aid your book in getting what it deserves – a entire body that is seen through to the end. Any small sacrifice will be worth the trouble, for you will have this story or project to treasure forever once it’s all through.