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How to Write Your Novel's First Draft in Only a Month

Updated on April 7, 2014
Do you dream of writing a novel? You can--and you can do it in only thirty days.
Do you dream of writing a novel? You can--and you can do it in only thirty days. | Source

Writing a Book in Thirty Days

With the upswing and potential of self-publishing, it seems everyone's writing a book these days (and some are doing better than others; consider the success of Hugh Howey's post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel, Wool).

However, writing a book can be an immersive, time-consuming process--especially if you have a full-time job, children, and other responsibilities. So, how do you find the time? Will it take you years to write your novel?

The answers is yes, you can find the time, and no, it won't take you years! Every year, almost 300,000 people participate in November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and 40,000 of them complete a 50,000 word novel--so it can be done.

No need to wait until November--you can write a book in any month of the year by following the tips below.

Will your novel be the next global sensation? Before writing a great book, you must love to read great books!
Will your novel be the next global sensation? Before writing a great book, you must love to read great books! | Source

Prepping to Write Your Book

I've worked with a lot of aspiring and self-published authors through my editing business, and what surprises me about so many of them is that they don't like to read. I can tell you honestly that these authors are NOT the successful ones, and they are generally not strong writers.

In order to write your novel, you absolutely must read. Before you pick a day on which to start writing, spend some time reading. Think about your novel's plot and what genre it falls into--then go pick up some other authors' work in that area. It won't make you less creative--in fact, good work should inspire you!

In addition, being an avid reader is also like sitting through a grammar, structure, and plotting class without realizing it--you will start to absorb the mechanics of good writing.

Picking up a few books on writing doesn't hurt either--White & Strunk's "The Elements of Style" and Stephen King's "On Writing" are both excellent bibles to have before you begin.

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Setting Goals for Novel Writing

To kick-off your month of writing, first pick a date on which you know you have few commitments, and make a firm commitment with yourself to sit down at your laptop. If you need to create an outline, do that a few days before you begin (you can also put together a loose outline in your head while you shower, while you drive to work, while you mow the grass--anytime that your body is occupied but your mind is free).

Next, decide how long you think your novel will be--don't get too ambitious with the first one and decide you're going to write a 200,000 epic saga. Fifty thousand words is a good goal.

Let's say you've decided to go with 50,000--over the course of thirty days, that's roughly 1,700 words a day. Generally, a typed, double-spaced page is 250 words. So, you'll be writing six and a half pages a day.

Does that make sound more doable? It probably does! Once your creativity gets flowing you may even pound out more pages than that!

Put each day's page requirement on your planner calendar, and don't deviate--six pages a day, possibly more on weekends, and you can write your novel in a month.

Feeling blocked on ideas for your book? Just keep typing...you will get through it.
Feeling blocked on ideas for your book? Just keep typing...you will get through it. | Source

Dealing with Writer's Block and Self-Criticism

Let's say it's Day 10, you've been flying along through your novel and feeling like you're the next Suzanne Collins--and then you hit a wall. What do your characters do next? Where does this story go?

That happens to almost everyone at some point or another. That doesn't mean you should step away from the keyboard and just give up on your goals or your ideas. And it certainly doesn't mean you should start editing your book from the beginning as a way to distract yourself--you want to write a first DRAFT in a month, not a perfectly polished masterpiece (even greats like Hemingway had editors, and you'll need one too). If you spend too much time going over the parts you've already written, you will never finish a first draft.

When you've hit that wall and are doubting your talent or drive, just keep writing anyway. So what if it's implausible, the character wouldn't say that, you hate the scene--you can fix it during your first edit after the month is over. Have the discipline to keep writing. You will break through the wall, and any parts that hate in your novel at the end are easily fixed by hitting "delete."

Additional Tips on Writing a Novel in Thirty Days

The Next Steps

With enough determination, you can finish your book's first draft in one month. When you type that last sentence, sit back and be proud of yourself--you've accomplished something many people dream of!

Rest for a few days and then recruit a few trusted (and honest) family members or friends to read your novel and give you feedback. Then, go back in and rework the parts you don't love.

When you feel you have a strong draft, turn to a professional editor for a content analysis of your novel, and get feedback on plot, characterization, pacing, and other novel mechanics, as well as things like grammar and style.

Whether or not this particular novel gets published, you're an author! Congratulations.

Comments

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    • profile image

      jsbst18 

      6 years ago

      "Rules to be considered a real writer"? Hehe. That is funny. Is Boroughs a writer? Because most of his stuff is pure dreck... how about JD Salinger? A writer is someone who writes... a good writer, well that is based on opinion.

      If you get paid to do something, you are a professional. Whether you are a good or bad professional, you are still one.

    • SaffronBlossom profile imageAUTHOR

      SaffronBlossom 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks Abby! I definitely agree there should be rules to abide by to be considered true authors--there's a lot of unprofessional dreck out there, and I always feel cheated when I buy a book the author obviously didn't care enough about to edit and polish.

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Self publishing is becoming big business. When I'm on my Kindle Fire, I download many books and am surprised with the books out there. There are many atrocious writers, and there are many of them that are writing as advertisements for their personal businesses. I've also ordered traditional books from Amazon and have been astonished by the bad layout, organization, and grammar. I love that writers are able to self publish, but there should be some sort of rules they abide by in order to be considered true authors. Your hub is very useful, SaffronBlossom. Thank you.

    • SaffronBlossom profile imageAUTHOR

      SaffronBlossom 

      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      @Carozy: Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. @PaoloJpm: Best of luck with your writing! School break will be a great time to write...I miss school break. :) @europewalker: Thank you! Yes, agreed--it does! But communities like NaNoWriMo help with the motivation. @beadreamer247: Thanks for reading! In my introduction I mention a 50K word book as being doable in a month; thousands of people do it every year in November! But I agree that a longer book would be very hard, if not impossible, to do in 30 days unless you are a full-time writer.

    • beadreamer247 profile image

      beadreamer247 

      6 years ago from Zephyrhills, FL

      What length of novel are you talking about? I am currently picking up on finishing off 270 pages I started years ago and already had others read over it and they love it. It is going to be around 400 -500 pages and there is no way you can get that done in one months. I also have to do a lot of editing and that takes time. If you work you constantly get interrupted and have to find your way into it every time again - it is time consuming much more than being at home having time to write and concentrate on it for 10 hours.

    • europewalker profile image

      europewalker 

      6 years ago

      Useful hub with helpful tips. It takes a lot of self discipline to write a book in thirty days.

    • PaoloJpm profile image

      John Paolo B.Magdaluyo 

      6 years ago from Philippine

      great hub! Very useful I am also fascinated writing novels every school breaks for my next subject looking forward to use your tips

    • carozy profile image

      carozy 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      I took part in Nanowrimo last year and it was a great experience. Excellent article. Voted up and useful. Thanks for sharing!

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