Ok folks, so this is Week 2 of Writing with Baby Challenge.
This week, I will give you the secret to writing a novel in one month (or in my case, 20 days). But let me warn you, there is no secret.
Writing with Baby Challenge, Week #2
So this week (over last 6 days) I wrote 5317 words. I’m hoping to average around a 1000 words a day. I use iDoneThis to track my word count- it’s pretty cool. You get an email everyday, and you reply to it saying how many words you typed. Saves the I forgot to note my wordcount excuse.
At this rate, will finish my current book in 2 months, which while slower than my previous pace of a book a month, is still faster than what, 90% of the writers out there.
Here’s a graph of how much I wrote:
Topic of the Day: How to write fast
I know the title says a novel a month, but you don’t have to be that fast. Even if you finish a novel in 3-6 months, you are still faster than 90% of writers who take years to write a book.
So what’s the secret to fast writing? It’s my secret sauce, which you can have for 6 monthly payments for $99.99!
The truth is, there is no secret. Sure, you can learn tricks like how to type faster. I can type 2000 words an hour (only when I’m in the middle of the book and in full flow). Before the baby, I was writing for an hour and a half a day (in 2 sittings), and easily typed 3-4000 words a day. Since I go for short novels (55-60k) words, that means a whole novel in 20 days.
But even if you are a fast typist, you may still take ten years to write a book. The reason is very subtle, but the reason most writers fail. Not fail to write a book a month (or every 3, 6, 9 months whatever), but fail completely. They give up and go back to potato farming, or whatever it is writers that give up writing do.
The reason is this: They don’t trust their creative side. Their critical side, which is the side that has been trained in school to find fault with everything, to analyse and rip apart rather than build, is the part that takes over. The critical side is never happy with anything. No matter what you write, the critical side will find a fault with it (in the voice of your worst teacher).
If you want to write fast, there are no shortcuts. You just have to trust your creative side, and just damn type (this is a good point to mention: You have read my last blog, right, where I say that you should stop setting goals, like I will write 2000 words a day, because setting goals is for losers).
Trusting the creative side means: You don’t constantly second guess yourself. You don’t go back to your book and attempt to fix it the way your English teacher would like it. You don’t rewrite your book based on some stupid advice in an bad grammar book that everyone loves.
It means trusting yourself, trusting that the creative side of your brain, the one that has been listening, reading and enjoying stories long before your first English class.
What does it mean in practice?
All this is very well in theory, you might say, but what does it mean in practice?
Taking my own example, I finished a novel in June-July 2014. And from July 2014 to end November 2014 (about 5 months), I did not finish a single book.
Because I was trying to make it perfect.
I had swallowed all the BS all these two-book-success-stories had taught me. I wanted my story to be perfect. I wanted it to be in a genre that was selling. I wanted to write a series (because this is the new religion of writing) You MUST always write in a series. Otherwise, the locust swarm will hit your village and eat all your cows. If you don’t write in a series, the Choopacubra will eat your laptop and destroy all your work.
In those 5 months, I started and finished many projects, but abandoned them. I was beginning to get sick, and thought of giving up writing.
That’s when I had my F*&@ it moment.
Partly, I blame Dean W Smith (see links below).
I said, bleep this. I don’t care what other people think, I’ll write what I damn want.
And I did. I’ve already shared my list:
Nov 2014: Watcher’s Day Out
Dec 2014: All Aboard, the Zombie Express
January 2015: I Hate Zombies (actually started this in December)
End Jan- Mid Feb 2015: Achtung! Nazi Zombies
The last two books were finished in 20 days, plus 4-5 days revising, mainly typos, small plot errors. That’s it. And then straight to editor.
Many people will say, Oh, but if I don’t spend years and years revising my book, it will come out to be a turd.
Well, this is a myth that has been busted by those smarter than me, so I will merely link to them in the end. I will add this gem I read in Dean’s blog:
No matter how much time you spend polishing a turd, it’s still a turd.
If you want to write fast, you have to trust your creative side. I spent months plotting, and then months revising each draft. I would analyse and think about each minor plot point, which meant I would grow bored and abandon dozens of projects midway. And the books still sucked. They sucked because I didn’t have enough practice. I didn’t have enough practice, because I spent all my time thinking, and not enough writing.
For I Hate Zombies, I decided not to do any plotting at all. I just typed whatever came into my head. (Note: I’m not saying you don’t need to plot. Each person is different. But unless you give in to the creative side, you won’t know what your best method is).
Some of this will be offended by this, so here’s a photo of a baby to compensate:
So I just sat for an hour or two, and typed. Without thinking, or analysing, or trying to fix my grammar.
Did it work?
I find it easier to write books now. I don’t spend hours struggling with minor plot points. I never go back and change my language/tone (and my editor agrees with me). I never say, “Hey, I could rewrite this better”. Because I can’t.
And that’s the secret to writing fast. Creating discipline (write daily, for a fixed time, every single day), and trusting the creative voice.
Told you, there was no secret.
Right, till next Sunday.
If you made it this far, chances are you have already the articles below. In case you haven’t, here are the links:
1. All the articles here, http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/killing-the-sacred-cows-of-publishing/
but especially this one.
2. Perfection by Kris Rusch, one of the best articles on writing (and any other creative art), and it’s two followups (here and here).
This post is a part of my Writing With Baby Challenge, where I try to finish a novel while taking care of a little baby.I will give an update every weekend. If you want to follow along, either follow me on Twitter, or subscribe to my mailing list.