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How To Write A Book In One Month

Updated on February 19, 2015

But First Tell Me This

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How many words will your book be?

When planning a book, the first thing you should do, of course, is decide the subject. This means that by the time you get down to writing you'll also know the genre as well as the word count.

Word count is important for many reasons--pacing and plot development, but also eventually querying to agents. You'll have a lot more success if you stay within the limits of your genre. Each genre has different guidelines, and it's a good idea to stay within them. In fact, I'd say that you should stick to the middle of the range. Since different agents have different expectations, having a book at 75k when general guidelines indicate a wordcount of 50-100k means you're probably going to be good (at least where word count is concerned) with agents everywhere.

But since this article is about writing a book in under 30 days, word count is particularly important so that you can create a good schedule for yourself. So find your genre below, get an idea of your ideal word count, and let's get started!

Common Word Counts By Genre

  • Literary / Commercial 80,000 to 110,000
  • Crime Fiction 90,000 to 100,000
  • Mysteries / Thrillers / Suspense 70,000 to 90,000
  • Fantasy 90,000 to 100,000
  • Paranormal 75,000 to 95,000
  • Horror 80,000 to 100,000
  • Science-Fiction 90,000 to 125,000
  • Historical 100,000 to 120,000
  • Young Adult Fiction (YA) 50,000 to 80,000
  • Middle Grade 30,000 to 45,000
  • Non-Fiction 70,000 to 110,000

Can You Write A Book in One Month?

Make an Outline

Thirty days, seventy-five thousand words... (or more!) Seems impossible, no?

The answer is, no!

Not if you're starting out with a great outline. Of course, if each day you have no clue what you're going to be writing, you're going to be wasting a lot of time. But everything is pretty-well plotted out (but all the blanks aren't so well-filled in that all the excitement of writing is gone), then things are going to be a lot easier. Plus, you won't be stuck with a manuscript full of holes and impossibilites at the end of your thirty-day experiment.

Create a Schedule

So you've got your outline. Now what?

It's simple mathematics. ("But I'm a writeeer... not a mathematician.") Okay, but it's really simple mathematics.

Say you're writing a 90k novel (90k seems to be the number that pops up the most in the different genres.) So divide 90k by 30. 90/30=3.

And that's all there is to it. Three thousand words a day. That's not that bad, is it?

Of course, it's not all there is to it. Some days it's not actually possible to write. Other days, you have a lot of free time.

Everyone has a different schedule. You should figure out how much you're literally capable of writing in a day--for me, it's 10k. But is that realistic except on a very occasional, last-minute cramming basis? No--so I don't rely on that. I tell myself that on a day when I have five or six hours free I can write about six thousand words. On a day when I'm busy, I can still find time to write about two or three hours--and get at least 2.5k words in. It really doesn't take a long time to write if you've planned things out well ahead of time.

Edit The Previous Chapter

People say you shouldn't edit while you're writing.

But people are wrong.

I say you should edit--but only the previous chapter. In fact, start out your writing day by going over your outline, then by editing the previous chapter. Why? Because it helps you get back into things. It reminds you of minor plot points you might have forgotten to write about in your outline. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it helps you find your voice. Nothing's worse than reediting a novel and finding every chapter is written in a distinctly different voice. No amount of editing can help that.

If you don't have a lot of time, then just edit the previous page.

Stay Motivated

Writing can often feel like work. In fact, don't believe people who say that writing should be all inspiration. Writing is sweat, tears, and an occasional Eureka! moment. So above all, stay motivated, no matter how. Here are some tricks.

  • Put an alarm and try to beat it. It may not seem very professional to those who have a snob view of writing, but it works.
  • Take breaks every one thousand words. Drink a cup of tea, take a walk, or have a healthy snack. Don't neglect yourself.
  • Shower, eat, and exercise before you start writing. Also, make sure your writing space is clean. Disorder can make us stressed out.
  • Every night, mark on a calendar how many words you wrote. Reading that in the morning, and seeing your overall progress, will give you fresh motivation.

Now Tell Me This:

What's the shortest time it's ever taken you to write a book?

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