WRITING A BOOK IN 30 DAYS? WRITING IS NOT AN EASY RIDE
Some writing coaches and colleges tend to instill into the minds of aspirant writers that the craft of novel writing is an easy task that can be completed in a month. And I go like wow! Really? Thirty or Thirty-one days? Well, on the click of a button, on almost reliable Big Brother Google, there is so much advice for any aspirant writer some of it excellent, some of it not so good. Unless of course if some genius of Stephen King or JK Rowling had by remote chance rubbed off on you.
I have yet to make the connection with Zakes Mda to find out if it would, in fact, be possible for an aspirant writer to complete a manuscript within thirty days. I am inundated with requests from unpublished young writers eager to see their work published, and often when I have the luxury of time I oblige to read their manuscripts.
But I soon get discouraged after reading three paragraphs of their work. The manuscript is cluttered with so many typos often making it difficult to even understand the narrative. This is one of the cardinal sins any writer must avoid at all cost. I do not wish to go into other aspects such as grammar and the overuse of adverbs. The moment you come across words such as; he ran quickly, he said loudly. Mandla playfully touched Zodwa’s head. These modifiers kill effective writing and an otherwise interesting writing. A writer must avoid them because they signify laziness.
I can bet my head; any manuscript completed within thirty days is bound to be peppered, throughout, with these adverbs. And when I point out these shortcomings to my fellow aspirant writers they tend to take my advice with a pinch of salt. They believe that they have “arrived” because they have completed writing their manuscript as advised. Well, there is no one formula fits all in writing, every writer is unique, and what works for Suzie will definitely not work for Tom.
But the reality is that writing is not an easy ride. It takes blood, sweat, and tears, and any writer who thinks he or she can complete a manuscript within thirty days is doing so at his/her peril. On this Blog, I would like to share some insightful information written by Ali Luke. She has been a professional writer since 2008. She has a BA (Hons) in English from Cambridge University and an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths College, University of London. She writes regularly for many big websites – including writing/ blogging sites like Craft Your Content, Prolonger, Daily Writing Tips and Write to Done.
In her book, The Two-Year Novel (Plan, Write, Edit and Publish Your Novel in 24 Months), she states; Have you ever told yourself something like this: • “Once I have a bit more time, I’ll start work on that novel.” • “Once life is less manic, I’ll get back to my novel.” • “If only I could take a year off work, I could finally write my novel.” A novel is a major undertaking. But it’s also one that can fit around a busy life. You don’t need all day, every day, to write. If you can find just 30 minutes each day, you could finish a novel (to the point where you’re sending it out to agents, or self-publishing) in just two years. Yes, that might not sound quite so impressive as writing a novel in a month (NaNoWriMo) or even publishing a couple of novels every year, like many full-time novelists do – but let’s face it: if you have 30 minutes a day to write, you’re not going to accomplish as much as someone who can spend eight hours a day on their writing.
Obviously, I have to make some assumptions about your time available and writing speed. For the plan to work, you’ll need to: • Have 30 minutes per day available (or the equivalent across a week, e.g. two 1 h 45 m sessions). • Write an average of 500 words per day during the first draft • Edit at an average pace of 1,000 words per day The plan allows for • Two full drafts (writing 500 words per day) • One full edit (editing 1,000 words per day) • A final tidying-up edit (editing 1,500 words per day) • Plus time for your novel to be with your editor and/or beta readers. This should result in a novel of 75,000 – 80,000 words, completely finished (from initial idea to ready-to-go book) within two years. What You Need to Make the Two-Year Plan Work • Have 30 minutes per day available (or the equivalent across a week, e.g. two 1 h 45 m sessions). • Write an average of 500 words per day during the first draft • Edit at an average pace of 1,000 words per day The plan allows for • Two full drafts (writing 500 words per day) • One full edit (editing 1,000 words per day) • A final tidying-up edit (editing 1,500 words per day) • Plus time for your novel to be with your editor and/or beta readers. This should result in a novel of 75,000 – 80,000 words, completely finished (from initial idea to ready-to-go book) within two years. PAGE | 3 THE TWO-YEAR NOVEL (FROM ALIVENTURES.COM) © ALI LUKE, 2018 The Whole Plan I’m going to go through the plan step-by-step, with lots of extra guidance, in a moment ... but for now, here’s the whole thing in one place:
Month 1 and 2 Research, planning, outlining.
Month 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 (Drafting (writing 500 words/day).
Month 8,9,10,11 and 12 ( Redrafting (writing 500 words/day).
Month 13, 14 and 15 Admin, while the novel is with editor/beta readers.
Month 16, 17 and 18 Editing (editing around 900 words/day).
Month 19 and 20 Admin, while the novel is with editor/beta readers (yes, again!).
Month 21 and 22 Final edit (editing around 1,350 words/day).
Month 23 Proofreading/admin.
Month 24 Publishing.
Yes, that is a lot of redrafting and editing. If all goes smoothly, you may not need all of it. Hurrah! You’ll be done early. I’d strongly suggest, though, proceeding on the assumption that you’ll need all of that time. And in case you’re looking at the plan and thinking “wait, that’s not going to work for my book...” Suggested genre-specific tweaks: • If you’re writing in a research-heavy genre (historical, hard SF, fantasy that involves a ton of world-building) then allow a couple of extra months for research before you start the plan proper.
If you’re writing in a genre where books come in around 50,000 words (romance, some YA) then you should be done with “writing the first draft” and “redrafting the whole dang thing” in 3 – 4 months rather than 5. You’ll probably find you can cut down the editing phases too. Making the Time to Write for 30 Minutes per Day I’m going to make a rather bold assertion here: however busy you are, you can carve out an average of 30 minutes per day (3.5 hrs per week) to write. You do NOT have to do this as 30 minutes each and every day.
Depending on the rest of your life, one of these might suit you better: • 3 hrs 30 mins once a week – e.g. 7am–10.30am, Saturday mornings • 1 hr 45 mins twice a week – e.g. 8pm–9.45pm, Mondays and Thursdays • 42 mins five times a week – e.g. 12.15pm–12.57pm, weekdays • 15 minutes twice a day – e.g. 6am–6.15am and 9pm–9.15pm, daily If your time is subject to a lot of interruptions, or if you end up canceling writing sessions at the last minute, then plan time for catch-up sessions. For instance, aim to write from 5pm–5.30pm, but if for some reason that doesn’t happen, write from 9pm–9.30pm. If you can’t fit half an hour a day (or the equivalent) of writing into your life as-is, figure out what needs to change to make it work.
Could you hire a babysitter for two hours, twice a week? Can you rely on ready meals or takeaways three nights a week, so you don’t have to spend so much time cooking and washing up? Is there a commitment you can give up to make more time?
You see my gripe now? How on earth do you imagine you can complete writing a book in thirty days? Happy writing.