How to Write A Book in 30 Days (Even if You’ve Never Written Anything Before)
Emily has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, MS, and she has an MFA in Creative Writing from GCSU in Milledgeville, GA, home of Flannery O’Connor. She spends her free time reading, watching horror movies and musicals, cuddling cats, Instagramming pictures of cats, and blogging/podcasting about books with the ladies over at #BookSquadGoals (www.booksquadgoals.com). She can be reached at [email protected].
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It’s almost time everyone! Yes, it’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means. One last hurrah before it’s time to hunker down with your laptop, typewriter, or pen and paper and get to writing for NaNoWriMo . If you’re new to NaNoWriMo, here’s what you need to know. Each year on November 1, NaNoWriMo challenges you to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. The community-powered event has been going strong since 1999, and whether you’re a seasoned writer or just trying to write something for the first time, NaNoWriMo is an excellent challenge with lots of community support.
I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2012. Having a deadline always makes me write faster. I haven’t always successfully completed the challenge, but I always enjoy trying. Since I’ve been doing this for almost ten years, I’ve learned a little bit about what helps (and what doesn’t). And I’m happy to share with you my secrets for getting a bunch of writing done in a short amount of time.
One big thing I want to point out before I get into my tips? Remember that NaNoWriMo is just one way out of many that you can set deadlines for yourself. Yes, this is a time of the year where a whole bunch of people are committing to writing more, but you can absolutely do this on your own (or with others, if you can find the people!) at any time. So whether you’re getting ready for a busy November, or just trying to write quickly for your own deadline, here are my tips for writing a book in 30 days, even if you’ve never written anything before.
1. Tell People About It
I’m a writer. But it’s really hard for me to tell people that. Why? I don’t know. It sounds pretentious, I guess. I really hate telling people that I’m a writer. Even more than that, I hate telling people about what I’m writing. I always worry that the more I talk about writing something, the less I’ll actually want to write about it. Like telling people about the writing will scare it away.
But look. Listen. If you’re really dedicated to getting something done in 30 days, you’re going to have to tell people about it. First of all, by letting people know about your goals, you’re setting up accountability. You’re less likely to give up on your writing goals if you know other people know about them. Like, it’s okay to let yourself down, but you can’t let other people down.
You also have to tell people about your 30-day writing goal because, guess what? If you’re writing 50,000 words in 30 days, that’s going to take up a lot of time. People are going to notice. They’re going to wonder where you are. When they try to make plans with you, you can make up an excuse or you can tell them the truth: You can’t leave your house because you’re 5,000 words behind your goal, so you’ve got to get serious.
2. Quantity Over Quality
Yes, of course you want your writing to be good, but you’re not looking to create a finished draft a the end of 30 days. You’re just trying to get something down. For the next 30 days, keep your writing hat on and your editing hat far, far away. In fact, throw your editing hat out of the window. If you lose it and you have to buy a new one in December, so be it. For now, you’re not allowed to critique or change your writing. Just write.
On that note, I know everyone writes differently, but for me, it’s best if I just write whatever I feel like writing rather than trying to write the whole thing in order. You’ll write more if you’re excited about what you’re writing, so pick what part of the story you feel like writing, and go to town. If the thought of writing everything out of order feels like chaos, I suggest coming into this 30 day writing period with a strong outline so you can pick up wherever you want in the story and know where it fits.
3. Stop Writing When You’re in the Middle of Something
This one is kind of related to writing things out of order, because this is also all about writing what excites you. When you’re in the middle of writing something and you know where it’s going, try to stop half way through and save the rest for your next writing session. Why? Because you’ll keep thinking about it until your next writing session, and when you sit down to write again, you’ll know exactly where to start.
You know all those times you sit down to write and end up staring at your computer trying to find the words? Yeah, this is basically a foolproof way to avoid all that wasted time and anxiety.
4. Reward Yourself With Snacks
This one might seem obvious, but trust me. You might forget. Please take snack breaks while you’re writing. And hydrate too. Sometimes when you’re really in the zone, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Invest in some good writing snacks that are healthy and easy to eat while typing away.
Or, even better, when you’ve finished a great writing session, take a step away from your computer screen and sit down at the table to reward yourself with a snack. Yes, you’re going to need a lot of time to write, but you’ve also got to take breaks to avoid burnout. On that note, don’t forget to get plenty of rest too!
5. Commit to Writing Sprints and Mini-Deadlines
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is one big deadline. To get there without getting overwhelmed, you’ll want to break it down to smaller, easier-to-reach mini-deadlines. Try to set a goal for number of words per day, or even per writing session, and try to stick to that number so you don’t fall behind.
Writing sprints are another way to set very small mini-deadlines. I usually set a timer to 20 minutes, write non-stop for the full 20 minutes, and then reward myself with a short break after. You might have hours of writing scheduled for one day, but if you break it down into short 20 minute sprints with breaks in between them, writing for those small blocks of time feels much more attainable.
6. Find Other People to Write With
This may or may not be something that helps you. Everyone works differently. But for me, finding a community of writers who are also trying to get a lot of writing done has been helpful. You can check out the NaNoWriMo website to find local writing sprints to join if you want to surround yourself with other people who are writing. Or if you’d prefer to stay online and socially distanced, there are so many writing communities you can join online for support and for community writing sprints. Writing with other people has been a game-changer for me because yes, it creates accountability, but I also love how supportive writers are of each other (disclaimer: usually). Writing is so solitary most of the time. I love when I get to connect with other people who are just as passionate about writing as I am.
7. Keep Reading
Okay, you’re doing a lot of writing. You might feel like you don’t have time to do anything else. But trust me on this one. Keep reading. Reading makes you a better writer and it will inspire you. Find time to keep writing. Use it as a way to relax after a long day of getting your own book done. Read stuff that’s like what you’re writing if you want. Or if you need to take a step away from your work entirely, pick up something that has nothing to do what you’re writing. Allow yourself to escape your own head for a little bit and enter into another writer’s world.
8. Visualize How You’ll Feel When It’s Done
This is advice that works for basically anything difficult you’re trying to finish. You’re trying to write a whole book in 30 days. That’s so much! But you can do it. How do I know? Because I’ve always visualized what it’s going to look like when you’re done.
You can do this too. When you’re in the middle of doing something hard, it can feel impossible. But the fact of the matter is, it’s going to get done because you’ve dedicated yourself to doing it. In moments where it feels impossible, just remember how great it’s going to feel when you make it to that 50,000th word.
You’ve already committed to doing this. You’re going to do it. I believe in you!
If you need more inspiration, here are 8 of the best books to prep for NaNoWriMo . And if you want to help inspire the other writers in your life, here are 15 gifts for NaNoWriMo writers . Finally, whenever you think it can’t be done, here are 9 books that started as NaNoWriMos .
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How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips
Annual writing sprints like NaNoWriMo have many experienced and new authors alike testing their limits. Writing a book – a carefully, beautifully constructed book – does take time. Usually, much longer than 30 days. Yet trying this exercise is useful for building discipline, focus and just getting the first draft done. Here are 8 tips to help:
- Post author By Jordan
- 4 Comments on How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips
Annual writing sprints like NaNoWriMo have many experienced and new authors alike testing their limits. Writing a book – a carefully, beautifully constructed book – does take time. Usually, much longer than 30 days. Yet trying this exercise is useful for building discipline, focus and just getting the first draft done . Here are 8 tips to help:
1: Set attainable goals
When someone asks ‘how do I write a book in x days?’ Writers’ reactions are sometimes discouraging. ‘Never write a book with a deadline as small as 30 days!’ Says one Quora user . Reasons you shouldn’t attempt to write a book in such a small time-frame include:
- Being limited by time constraints could result in low quality writing
- Producing a first draft may be possible within 30 days but you also need time to revise and edit
- Burnout is possible if you don’t take sufficient breaks
These are all valid concerns. To work out it you can finish your novel in 30 days:
- Calculate how many words you write per minute: Use a free words-per-minute checker such as Typing Speed Test .
- Keeping in mind that you will also need to pause from time to time to think what happens next, halve your word count per minute. If you can type as fast as 60 wpm, take 30 as your base rate.
- Work out how many words you write per hour: If you can write 30 per minute, you can write approximately 1800 words per hour (assuming you don’t stop to edit or rest). Factor in resting time for a more conservative estimate (e.g. 1000 words).
- Work out how many hours you will have to write each day on average over the next 30. If you write 1000 words of draft per hour on a good day, an 80, 000 word novel should take 80 hours of writing to complete.
- Eighty hours of writing over 30 days would mean spending an average of 2.6 hours of writing per day. This is a lot when you have other commitments.
- Based on the amount of time you have available to write each day, adjust the length of your first draft until you have a word count you can achieve. You can always expand during subsequent drafts. Or write your first draft as a brief, novella version .
If this seems like an impossible task, give yourself more days. Or write some scenes in summary form. You can add connective tissue between plot events (such as scene transitions) later.
2: Set a realistic daily word count target
Many authors find as they learn how to write a book that realistic, attainable targets help immensely.
You might say to yourself ‘I can write for an hour each day, easily.’ The truth is that surprises, last minute obligations and life in general can hijack your writing time. For every hour of free time you have, bank on getting half an hour of that to write.
Start thinking about how you can make your word target attainable:
- Cut down time taken up by other tasks: Make simpler, quicker meals, for example, and watch less TV – it’s only a temporary sacrifice)
- Ask for help: Rally friends and family who are willing to help you chase your goal (for example, grandparents willing to babysit if you’re juggling telling your story with parenting)
Once you know exactly which hours you have free, block them out in a calendar. Use a colour that separates them clearly from other events and obligations. Draw an ‘X’ through each day once you’ve reached your word target. The satisfaction of this action (the sense of completion) will keep you motivated to continue.
3: Reserve time for each part of the writing process
The different parts of writing a novel require different types of problem-solving. Sketching characters, for example, is more imagination-dependent, while editing is a somewhat more rational (though still creative) process. [You can create full character profiles in preparation using the step-by-step prompts in Now Novel’s story dashboard.]
When seeing if you can learn how to write a book in 30 days, being structured is key. Divide each writing session into different tasks . Complete different sections of outlining or drafting simultaneously. This keeps the process varied and diminishes chances of getting stuck.
If, for example, you prefer writing dialogue to introducing scenes and settings, leave your favourite part of the storytelling process for the end of each session. This makes your favourite part a reward that you work towards every time you sit down to write.
4: Maintain a motivating reward scheme
Create a reward scheme for yourself to keep yourself motivated. Big gyms and insurance policies take this approach to keeping members active. Because they understand motivation, how reward-driven we are . Maximize your commitment to your story (and your word count targets) by:
- Scheduling short breaks as micro rewards for reaching small targets such as completing scenes
- Scheduling greater ‘bonus’ rewards for milestone achievements such as completing chapters
Rewards don’t have to be expensive, overly indulgent or distracting. Take a walk somewhere inspiring or beautiful, read a few pages from a favourite book or grab a coffee with a close friend. Make your rewards relaxing activities that will help you return to the track renewed and focused.
One crucial piece of advice on how to write a book in 30 days:
5: Make it a game to avoid unnecessary pressure
If you’ve ever watched competitive reality TV, you might have seen cases where the most competitive and committed participant cracked early under pressure. Placing too much pressure on yourself is a fast track to burnout.
Instead, treat writing a book in 30 days as an impossible goal that you’ll see whether you can reach, playfully. It’s crucial that this time is fun and varied. Some ways to make it a game:
- Enlist a friend to join in the challenge: You can have your own NaNoWriMo any time of year
- Create engaging prompts for yourself: Instead of saying ‘In this scene, the villain will discover a secret that sets him back’, tell yourself ‘Imagine a villain has just been informed of a development that ruins his plans. What does he discover? How does he react? Write 500 words’
- Find an inspiring picture via Google images that captures the mood or tone you want a scene to create: Let images (or music) inspire you as you write
Try to write as freely as possible to maximize your speed:
6: How to write a book in 30 days: ‘Write drunk’
The quote ‘Write drunk; edit sober’ is often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, though it’s not clear whether Hemingway actually said this . Regardless of who said it, the quote does say something true about writing. It’s not that you should write drunk literally. But you should give yourself the freedom to write with that same uncontrolled giddiness. Before you get to editing.
A big part of how to write a novel in 30 days is letting go of complete control. Let the sober editor in you control when the time comes for that. The writing part should involve as little critical interference as possible, if you want to draft fast .
Some ways to ‘write drunk’:
- Make the font colour of your word processor match the background . Only highlight and change the font colour back when you reach your target word count. This will prevent you from focusing too much on what you’ve just said as you can’t edit until you reach a point of pause.
- Give yourself licence to be bad. Write terribly. Use clichés at every turn. Do this with the understanding that once you have the full draft and you’ve met your targets, you can go through and fix whatever you like.
- Leap in anywhere: Just because your novel tells a linear story doesn’t mean you have to be linear in your approach. If you’ve written the start of a scene, skip to the ending if you have an idea where it will go. Put in simple notes for whatever you’ll add later.
On the subject of speeding up, use shorthand in places to keep up your momentum:
7: Cheat and use shorthand
If you’re trying to write a novel in 30 days, you’ll likely only have time to fill in essential details of character, setting and the most important events of a scene. To keep going at all costs:
- Fill in names of characters, places and other nouns with generic words and agonize over the right choice later (e.g. ‘[Character Y: Add character name meaning stubborn/headstrong here]’)
- Reduce connecting sequences to basic elements. Instead of describing in detail how the party escapes the collapsing building, write ‘[Party manages to escape collapsing building; minus characters X and Y’]
- Keep filling in these blanks for moments when you are tired and you need a quick, small win
8: Remember that progress never counts as failure
What people don’t always tell you when you ask how to write a novel in 30 days is that the most important part of this challenge is committing to it and trying.
Determination and dedication will help you make progress. If, by the end of the 30 days, you don’t have a continuous, polished first draft, congratulate yourself for the progress you have made. You have a sturdy skeleton for a book you can turn into a better read.
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo or simply trying to get through your draft, try to write an 800 word extract every day for a week in the note-keeping section on Now Novel . That’s 5600 words further if you succeed.
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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.
4 replies on “How to write a book in 30 days: 8 key tips”
I am so excited to use NaNoWriMo to finish my novel. I am about 60,000 words in and I stalled out when I got distracted by a different story idea. I am now returning to my original plot and I’m planning on finishing it by Novermber 30th!
I hope it’s coming along well, Jeffrey! Let us know how you did. Any progress is a win, truthfully 🙂
Hi Jeffrey, I hope your NaNo draft is coming along well! Please feel free to share any extracts you’d like constructive critique on within the members’ area when you’re done, I’m interested to read it.
[…] time to wallow in that dank swampland. Inspiration is for suckers — you have a word count to hit. If you’re really stuck, online writing prompts, plotting exercises and character interview worksheets can be a big help. […]
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Free Guide & Worksheets
Write your book in 30 days.
Have you ever thought about publishing a book? If you’re a business owner, publishing a book can do wonders for your business. It can:
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Your book can also serve as material for future content, including social media posts, blog content, articles, and emails. If you’ve ever thought about writing a book, the best way to approach it is the same way you’d approach any business building initiative. You’d set a goal, create a plan, build a team and get to work. Despite rumors to the contrary, writing a book is no different. In fact, you can write a book in 30 days.
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How to Write an Ebook in 30 Days: A Step-by-Step Guide
Writing an ebook might seem like a piece of cake. But what about writing it in 30 days? With the right tools and workflow, it is possible.
Are you interested in writing an ebook but are intimidated by the process? Maybe you want to write but are worried that it will take you months or even years to finish your book.
While writing an ebook in 30 days isn't practical for everyone, it's definitely possible with the right tools and motivation. This article will introduce a plan for how to write an ebook in 30 days, with the preparation, editing, and formatting accounted for separately to better your chances of success.
Can I Write an Ebook in 30 Days?
Writing an ebook is simple enough, but writing one in 30 days is a different story. If you make it a goal to write your ebook in 30 days during the month of November, you can participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) event.
What Is the NaNoWriMo Event?
NaNoWriMo is a worldwide event that takes place every November. Participants around the world set a goal to write at least 50k words from November 1st to the 30th (this equals 1,666 words per day). There are a lot of incentives to participate in NaNoWriMo, including local events, workshops, merch, fun badges you can earn, and more.
There are many popular books that started out as NaNoWriMo books, including the smash hit Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree . Writing your book during NaNoWriMo can give you that push you need to finish quickly, so you can publish your book in a reasonable amount of time.
If we're being honest, it's pretty difficult to produce a quality body of work that will be ready for publication in 30 days. But if you break up your book into different phases, you can make the process less intimidating.
- Planning: Two to four weeks
- Writing: 1,666 words per day for 30 days (50k words total)
- Editing and Formatting: Two to six months
- Release & Promotion: Two to four months
Phase 1: Planning Your Ebook
If you want to succeed at writing a book in 30 days, spend a few weeks planning your book beforehand. There are a lot of things you can plan in advance, including the plot, chapters, and character development. You can also think about what extra features you'd like to add to your ebook , including a map, index, glossary, or foreword.
There are several tools you can use to put together a thorough plan for your book.
Pinterest is a fantastic place to get some visual inspiration for your novel. Make boards for the scenery, different characters, and whatever you feel like. While writing your book, you can refer to your Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration.
If you want to plan out scenes, timelines, etc., Notion is a great place to get organized. Notion is highly customizable and powerful, meaning you can craft intricate worlds and complex characters, all while keeping the information easily accessible.
Like many writers, you may feel dubious about using ChatGPT to help you write a novel . However, if used as a tool instead of a ghostwriter, ChatGPT is great for inspiration. Try these ChatGPT prompts to help you develop book characters .
Campfire is a planning and world-building software divided into different modules for accessibility. If you find software like Notion too daunting and prefer something that has guided prompts, Campfire could be a good choice for you.
Phase 2: Writing Your Ugly First Draft
Now that you've got your book planned out, you can focus on writing for the next 30 days. If you're writing during November for NaNoWriMo, you shouldn't have too much trouble with staying motivated and on target. You can also participate in Camp NaNoWriMo during the months of April and July.
If you're writing during any of the other months, here are some tips to help you hit your goal:
- Create a daily word goal. Between 1000 and 3000 words is ideal.
- Set your intentions before each writing session; what scenes are you going to write?
- Join an online writing community for support.
- Try an online "work gym" to help you stay focused during writing.
- Take care to avoid getting distracted while writing on your computer.
- Read an inspirational book like "On Writing" by Stephen King to pump you up for the task ahead.
Choose Your Software
There are many different software you can use to write your book . Scrivener is a popular choice for writers, and as a bonus, NaNoWriMo participants can receive a 20% discount—create a NaNoWriMo account and then click My Offers from the homepage.
Other popular software include Ulysses , Notion, and of course, old standbys like Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
Before splurging on software, see if it offers a free trial, so you can try it before you buy. You can also watch tutorials on YouTube to see if the UI looks appealing and easy to understand.
Once you find software you like, you can focus on writing your "ugly first draft" over the next 30 days.
What Is the Ugly First Draft?
In writing, many people refer to the "ugly first draft" as a means of writing quickly at the expense of spelling, grammar, and formatting. Think of it like a sculptor working with clay: first they create the shape, then they carve out the fine details later.
Writers will often engage in writing sprints where they attempt to write as much as possible during a specific amount of time. During these sprints, writers can't really afford to be "pretty" with their writing. It's more of a stream-of-consciousness way of writing that, while messy, gets the job done fast.
If you make a habit of doing writing sprints every day with the ugly first draft in mind, you'll have plenty of material for your book before you know it. Just make sure the writing makes sense to you, so you'll have an easier time editing it in the next phase.
Sit Down and Write
If you've thoroughly planned out your book in advance, have your software of choice, and are ready to write messily, all you need to do now is sit down and write. Of course, this is easier said than done, but remember that writing something bad is better than writing nothing at all.
Try to plan out a schedule for the next 30 days to help you stay on track. Schedule at least one or two reading sprints every day to make sure you hit your 1666-word goal. If you miss a day, you'll need to make up the word count on a different day so that you don't fall behind.
Very few writers can write 1666 words every day for 30 days straight without a hitch. There are going to be setbacks; you might get busy with other things, have writer's block, or simply not feel like writing that day. Therefore, set a cushion for yourself.
If you write 3000 words one day, don't take it easy the next day just because you're "ahead" of your goal. Aim to write every day even if you crushed it the day before. That way, when the chips are down and you're actually struggling, you'll have a bit of wiggle room.
Phase 3: Editing and Formatting
If you finished writing your first draft, congratulations! You're over one of the biggest hurdles of writing an ebook in 30 days. Now comes what is possibly the largest hurdle: writing the final draft and editing your book.
Though many books have been written during NaNoWriMo, very few get published as-is. Whether you want to edit the book yourself, hire a professional editor, or participate in peer editing, it's going to take a significant amount of time.
You'll also need to spend some time formatting your ebook for publication. You'll want to make sure it looks good on a variety of devices, including Kindles, phones, and laptops. Think about designing a book cover too, because despite the saying, people really do judge books by their covers.
If you want to publish through Kindle Direct Publishing , Amazon can help you with the formatting.
Phase 4: Release and Promotion
Now's the time to spread the word and promote your new book. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time for this step and don't get discouraged if your book doesn't start selling right away. Read up on different ways to promote your book if one strategy isn't working for you.
Write Your Ebook in 30 Days
Although the planning, editing, and promotion aspects of your ebook will require more than 30 days, writing the story within this timeframe is possible. With the help of the right software and tools, and a lot of dedication, you can have your first draft ready in just one month. Refer back to this guide if you need some help getting started.
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How to Write a Novel in 30 Days
Last Updated: June 26, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Grant Faulkner, MA . Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the co-founder of 100 Word Story, a literary magazine. Grant has published two books on writing and has been published in The New York Times and Writer’s Digest. He co-hosts Write-minded, a weekly podcast on writing and publishing, and has a M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 125,285 times.
Every year, people sign up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which challenges its participants to write a 50,000 word novel in November. Even if you’re not participating in NaNoWriMo, you might be interested in trying to finish a draft of the novel you’ve always wanted to write as quickly as possible. By preparing carefully and writing diligently, you’ll be able to finally get your novel down on paper!
Setting up Your Story
- If you don’t participate in an organized writing challenge, you should set your own ground rules. For instance, figure out what 30-day period you’d like to write during.
- While preparing, you can reread your favorite novels from the past or take the opportunity to read novels you’ve never read before.
- Try to read novels that are written in different styles. Some novelists write dense, complicated prose (for instance, William Faulkner and Toni Morrison) while others write in short, relatively simple sentences (such as Ernest Hemingway and Octavia E. Butler). Reading novels written in a range of styles will help you figure out not just what kind of story you want to tell but how you want to tell that story.
- You can also write a novel that blends genres. If your want to write a high-fantasy romance novel, go for it!
- If you don’t like writing with pen and paper or want to carry a notebook around, you can take notes electronically. There are a number of popular note-taking apps, like Evernote, that you can download for free. (You may already have one downloaded.)
- It might help to keep traditional plot structures in mind. Most stories begin with exposition, lead up to a climax, and then end with a resolution. You can learn more about plot structures in various writing manuals, such as Denise Jaden’s Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First Draft Novel in 30 Days .  X Research source
- In addition to outlining the plot, you should also have plans for your characters, settings, and other important details. Try to write backstories for your characters and make notes about how they fit into your novel.
- If you do include friends in the process, make sure that socialization doesn’t distract you from getting your writing done!
- NaNoWriMo has forums that enable writers to support one another and share ideas. While you’re writing your novel, these forums could be a great place to go for community and motivation!  X Research source You can also join general writing forums.
Writing the Novel
- You could also set a goal of writing a certain number of chapters or a specific number of double-spaced pages. Set a goal that makes the most sense for you and your novel.
- You don’t always have to start writing a novel at its beginning, but for writing one in 30 days it will probably be best to write it linearly from beginning to end.
- Try leaving your phone in a different room and disabling your wifi while you write if need be.
Revising Your Work
- Don’t look at it or talk about it, and try not to think about it too much. That way you’ll be able to return to it with fresh eyes and a clear head when you start the revision process.
- Ask your readers what they liked and didn’t like about the novel. You can also ask things like, “Which characters were compelling and which were annoying?” and “Did the plot make sense?”
- By knowing what parts of your novel are worth expanding, you’ll have a good idea of how to move forward with it.
- Ask your readers which parts of the book they wish were longer to help figure out what to expand.
- Even if you’re emotionally attached to a certain character, scene, or subplot in your novel, you may have to cut it if it isn’t moving the plot forward.
- If you end finding that you want to start your novel over from scratch, that’s fine too. But don’t think of your 30 days of intense writing as wasted time. You’ve learned a lot about the kind of novel you want to write and how to get writing done efficiently even if you don’t go further with what you wrote!  X Research source
Sample Writing Schedule and Examples
Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.
- If you couldn't convince your friends to join you, meet some new ones! Many sites have forums for you to join, and chances are you will find someone who is willing to help you edit their novel! Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 0
- Enjoy yourself! It's about having fun. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 1
- Tell as many people as possible what you plan to do so that you have your own personal support group! This will also keep you from pitching out at the last minute. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1
- Don't forget to save your document regularly (unless your document is automatically saved). Make sure you have a copy of your saved novel on an external hard drive, like a disc or a flash drive. This way, if your computer crashes you'll still have a way to access the novel! Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
- Remember to prioritize. The quality of your schoolwork and/or your work at a day job might start to slip from all the intense writing. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ Grant Faulkner, MA. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 8 January 2019.
- ↑ https://nybookeditors.com/2016/03/writing-a-novel-in-a-month-is-it-possible-and-should-you-try/
- ↑ http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/30-tips-for-writing-a-book-in-30-days
- ↑ https://nanowrimo.org/terms
- ↑ https://writetodone.com/how-to-write-a-novel-in-30-days/
- ↑ https://thewritelife.com/how-many-words-in-a-novel/
About this article
If you want to write a novel in 30 days for NaNoWriMo, keep in mind that NaNoWriMo's minimum word count requirement is 50,000 words, so you need to use your time efficiently. To get started, plan a routine to make sure you write each day and finish your novel on time. If you need help to stay motivated, give yourself small rewards, like a piece of chocolate for every 1,000 words you write. Additionally, try writing with a group of friends or contacting a local NaNoWriMo group if you work better with company. For tips on how to edit your draft and how to get feedback from readers, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Could You Write a Book in a Month?
In 2005 I was confident. I had just appeared on the Today show to promote my first nonfiction book, an account of how my life was transformed by sacrificing some little luxuries. Just six months before, I had made a major career change , leaving my position as a marketing director at a publishing company to start my own business and begin a writing career.
Why I put off writing a book
Writing a novel has always been my dream. Although I was having financial success as a writer, I wasn’t sure that my skills could translate from nonfiction to fiction. Like most working writers, a deadline with pay sets off an internal starting gun that allows the words to flow freely and willingly to the page. The risky promise of some hypothetical future payday from a novel wasn’t enough to motivate me. Even thinking the word novel conjures intimidating figures—Richard Ford, Margaret Atwood, Jhumpa Lahiri and John Irving. I’m petrified by the pretentiousness of the notion that my book would ever be allowed on a bookshelf anywhere near the work of my heroes.
Wallowing in self-doubt had always derailed my writing process. I was spending more time managing how I felt about the writing than actually writing anything. It reminded me of the people who obsess about how bad their mess is instead of straightening out the piles.
My insecurities were grounded in my deep knowledge of book publishing, where I worked for 16 years promoting authors. Industry people are truly selfless in their love of the written word, and with that love comes a high expectation of quality. Because we read books, talk about books, dream about books and sometimes love books like they’re family members, most of us foster a secret desire to write them. Honestly, many book publishing people should write. Most have the critical eye and training to recognize good writing. At least that’s what I would tell just about any book publishing person I know.
But I couldn’t take that advice myself.
NaNoWriMo challenge: write a book in 30 days
One of the first considerations in writing this book is figuring out who is telling the story. Is it an all-knowing observer inside the story, like Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby ? Or is it a witty, self-deprecating diarist, as in Bridget Jones’s Diary ?
I email a writer friend who tells me, without a doubt, “Do not write in first-person narrative. You can’t tell the story as effectively that way, so write in third person!” Inhabiting the omniscient power of the third person is impossible as I churn out only two dismal sentences over the next two days. I can’t seem to stop correcting myself, believing that each word needs to be perfect before I commit it to the page.
After several more single-sentenced attempts, I admit defeat. I can’t do this alone. Desperate for a solution, I find the website for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which recommends the book No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty.
I’m a big advocate for 30-day challenges. At the time, I had just come off the experiment of giving things up month by month, serially, over the course of a year—what became my first book: Give It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less . I had long ago discovered that if you can do something for a month, you can do it for the rest of your life.
To write a book in 30 days, I determine I’ll need to write an average of 1,667 words every day, including weekends.
Setting myself up for success
Baty’s first recommendations give me instant courage. First, sign a contract with yourself for doing this monthlong commitment. This small action makes the project real. Second, turn off your inner editor, that nasty, brilliant part of your psyche that tells you how bad your writing is and essentially has its finger poised over the delete button before you can even hit the period at the end of the sentence. Baty goes so far as to recommend drawing a representation of the “‘Take My Inner Editor’ button” and physically hitting it every time you feel the urge to backspace and delete all the work you just hammered out. In my case, my inner editor has company: the iconic works on the shelf that appear to mock me. They remind me that I will not be like them, no matter how hard I try.
My inner publishing company also reminds me that not only can I not write a “real book,” I also have no plot, no hook, no marketable story that will allow me to eventually sell the book even if by some miracle I’m able to tough out the month. One of the voices is actually quite rude, asking, Who do you think you are trying to write the great American novel?
I put my finger down on the Inner Editor Button I’ve drawn.
Writing a book in 30 days: Week 1
Writing a book in 30 days without a plan is like baking a cake without a recipe. One need only mistake salt for sugar once to know that good carrot cake doesn’t just happen. I know there is no way to make this word count by winging it. Thankfully, Baty’s book also gives me a recipe to follow—which, for a first-timer in the novel game, is essential. Because I am goal-oriented, I equate my daily writing to the length of a magazine feature, more or less the size of this article. That would be 30 articles in one month. To give you a sense of what that means, I usually take anywhere from one to two weeks to write one full-length feature with editing, rewriting and fact-checking. This is five times the amount I am used to.
In Week 1, I let my insecurities go and try to take control. I quickly realize third person is not working. Imagining myself talking to a good friend gives me the voice of the protagonist, Jessie DeSalvo. Once I resign myself to a first-person narrative, the writing gets easier.
I’m feeling better about the project overall, but I still feel anxious. My antidote to life’s angst has always been yoga . Each day after writing, I silence the literary demons in my head by taking a class. “In the words of Ram Dass, ‘Here Now,’” the instructor says. I wonder, Is this a sign from the universe telling me to write, here, now?
Making it a daily ritual
Applying this philosophy and plenty of deep breathing helps me release tension and meet my daily goals throughout the first week. At times, I type without knowing what I’m saying or where it’s going. It feels like a mad shopping spree where you take 27 items into the T.J. Maxx dressing room, hoping that in the end you’ll find one decent pair of jeans to purchase. According to my credit card, I always find a decent pair of jeans to purchase, so I trust that my editing can make pure genius out of whatever chaos I create. Once I let go of the pursuit of perfection and accept that it does not have to be pretty, especially the first time I type it, the word counts get easier.
By the end of Week 1, I notice a ritual beginning to form. For me, writing has to be ritualistic, like teeth brushing, exercise or walking the dog. Consistency works, and soon I’m more afraid to skip than I am to write. Suddenly there’s nothing worse than skipping a day of 1,667 words and facing double that on the day after.
Because I’m not on Facebook while I’m working on this, I’m also not tempted to talk to people about what I’m doing instead of actually doing it. In fact, I’m reluctant to tell anyone that I’ve taken on this project at all. I feel like if I mention it, I’ll have to account for my progress—and for my failure—if this project doesn’t materialize.
Writing a book in one month: Week 2
My life is consumed by the book as Week 2 begins. On the train to work, I pick up snippets of conversation, immediately jotting them down on a notepad. I become hyper-aware of my surroundings, trying to glean whatever sweet remarks or dialogue I overhear. These provide great jumping-off points for more words to flow. Some give me ideas for entire passages. The more I eavesdrop, the more it occurs to me that secret novel writing is a lonely business.
I muddle through the week with some level of confidence. After all, I had just completed nearly one quarter of the entire project in a week. I’m writing on average two or three hours per day, which leaves a lot of time to carry on with the rest of my work and life duties. My routine is solid: Write every morning, then head off to yoga class where I can find some ancient wisdom to apply to my daily struggle. When I hear their thoughts on suffering, I’m convinced that Buddhists must be novelists.
Soon enough, I encounter a new problem. My inner marketing director starts wondering how I’m going to publish this novel that I’ve only begun and not edited at all—and told almost nobody about.
Writing a book in 30 days: Week 3
The nonfiction process is very straightforward: You essentially say, “Hey publisher, I have this great idea for a book! Here’s what it will look like. Here’s how I’ll market it. And here’s what it’s about.” The publisher then says, “That sounds great! Here’s some money. Now go write it.”
In the netherworld of fiction, you don’t have that luxury. You submit the end product, done, take it or leave it. And you get a lot of “leave it.” This concept weighs on me so heavily that by Week 3 I hit a major standstill. As the days go on, the writing gets harder because I can’t stop worrying about what will happen when I’m done. Will anybody like it? Is this just a waste of time I could better spend making money in other ways?
Baty answers these questions in his chapter about making it to the halfway point. He instructs me to start thinking about how to wrap this story up and give the characters some closure. Thinking about that end point, and how close I already am, gives me the will to move on. I want to resolve the messy issues I’d already created for my characters in the first half of the book and that pushes me through Week 3. I manage to make up for some of the slower days, so by the start of Week 4 I’m just above the weekly target, with 38,000 words.
Crossing the finish line
I’m excited about the prospect of completing the final week. I make a little chart to track the remaining seven days, like a prisoner checking off the final moments before freedom. By month’s end, my word count is 50,010. And although I should rejoice, all of those inner publishing people whom I had silenced over the past four weeks are back. And they’re angry. They want to know what comes next. Having a thick skin is part of being a writer, but at this stage I’m paralyzed, afraid to have anyone read the book. I print the unread manuscript and quickly put it into a filing cabinet, and I try not to think about it.
All of the demands I’d put off for a month come flooding back. I conveniently take assignments that don’t cause panic attacks, and over the next few years I write two more nonfiction books, helping more people tidy up their lives, and become a brand spokesperson. At one point, I pack the manuscript and all of my other possessions and move to a new home in the suburbs, placing my monthlong adventure into the same drawer of the same filing cabinet in a different house. Deep in my soul, I know the novel has to come out of the drawer and into the world. But I need encouragement again.
What I learned about writing a book
- Let it go to let it flow. Stop “shoulding” on yourself entirely during this process. Some people have an inner editor. I had an inner committee of naysayers. There is no way to let creativity happen if you are judging yourself with every keystroke.
- Act as if you are a novelist. Stop comparing yourself to Leo Tolstoy or Charles Dickens. Other authors are not going to hunt you down and tell you that you are a charlatan for even dreaming to write a novel. News flash: They don’t care, and neither should you.
- Release the outcome. We all love having written a book, but not the actual writing. We love being fit but not working out. Disengage from the process of being done and get to the business of doing. You can’t have one without the other.
- Novel writing is not easy. If Buddhists believe that life is suffering, then novelists must be Buddhists. Good stuff always takes work. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Revisiting the book I wrote in 30 days
A few months after the move, I’m working with a client who hired me to catalog all of her short stories, article pitches and rejection letters. (Apparently her real editors were almost as mean as my inner editors.) When I tell my husband about this client, his mind goes to the same place as mine. He says simply, “You don’t want to look back at your life and regret leaving that book in a drawer.”
I make a new plan: I hire an editor named Ken Salikof, whose many career hats include author, screenwriter and manuscript editor. Over the length of a summer, he helps me edit my messy pages and talks me through the insecurities I still have. His best answer to my inner editor’s criticism: “Well, if Richard Ford wrote a chick lit book, maybe this would be it.”
I take it as high praise.
Several years after I wrote the book in 30 days, I sign a contract with Post Hill Press to publish my first novel: Best Friend for Hire . It’s shelved in the women’s fiction and humor sections of stores, just a few feet away from my literary heroes.
And sometimes—if I let myself be truly happy—I push a metaphorical button to quiet the critics in my head , and I believe I earned a place on that shelf.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine and has been updated. Photo by Kostiantyn Voitenko/Shutterstock
Mary Carlomagno is the owner of Order , which specializes in clutter control, urban apartment solutions, office spaces and shopping addictions. Mary’s philosophy is simple: do not let clutter control your life. Her easy-going approach, sense of style and strong communication skills create an atmosphere that makes organizing fun. She is the author of three books, Give it Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less , Secrets Of Simplicity and Live More, Want Less . Mary has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show , The Today Show , CBS News , in Redbook , Real Simple and Woman’s Day . She has been interviewed on National Public Radio , the Joan Hamburg Show and Martha Stewart Living .
- Mary Carlomagno https://www.success.com/author/mary-carlomagno/ The Art of the Side Hustle
- Mary Carlomagno https://www.success.com/author/mary-carlomagno/ What Happened When I Didn’t Complain for 30 Days
- Mary Carlomagno https://www.success.com/author/mary-carlomagno/ 3 Steps to Finally Tackle Your Tedious Tasks
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How to Write a Book in 30 Days
Are you thinking about writing a book, but don’t know how to get started? This step-by-step guide will show you how to write a non-fiction book in 30 days. This is the exact process that I’ve used to write over 300 bestsellers and teach thousands of new writers to create their very first book.
This process is designed to last thirty days because this is a manageable amount of time. You want a goal that feel achievable and is in a short enough time frame that you won’t lose focus. This simple book writing process works because it’s easily measurable. We’ll give you a clear process to follow with the goal of completing your entire manuscript this month.
We’ll also recommend some great tools that will make the process easier for you. All writers are different and everyone has their own approach. It’s ok to use different software or a different process than another writer. You don’t need to replicate anyone else’s process. It’s ok to be unique.
So whether you’re an experienced writer or a complete novice, follow these steps and I’ll teach you how to write a book this month.
What do they want to learn?
How do you want to help them, find your purpose, i talk different than i write, develop a pre-writing ritual, phone dictation app, google docs, brainstorm book ideas, which book will make the most profit, which book you will finish the fastest, which book your the most passionate about, which book are you the most likely to finish, part one: the problem, part two: the solution, part three: the results, writing fiction, take your outline deeper, test your outline, set a deadline for your research, break your book into fragments, set a schedule.
- Writer's Block
Write Without Editing
Perfectionism kills great books, release the excuses, manage your book writing time, edit your book, use a template, launch your book, how long does it take to write a book, can i make money writing a book, can anyone write a book, what do i need to write a book, how much does it cost to publish a book, how hard is it to write a book, final thoughts, find your perfect reader.
Who do you want to help? Who is the ideal reader for your book? If you could get just one person to read your book, who would that be?
Writing a book for a large audience is really hard, but telling a story to a single friend is easy. You use the language and style of storytelling that you know they respond to. Use these questions to create the one person you are writing the book to.
This can be a real person that you know or an imaginary avatar that represents the bullseye of your ideal readers.
That imaginary, ideal reader can represent all the other people reading your book. Writing to one person is a lot easier than trying to write to an imaginary crowd.
When you know who your ideal reader is, it will be easier for you to write for them. They are the only person you are speaking to inside your book. Making language choices and deciding if a section is boring is a lot easier when there is only one person to measure against.
Your book should teach your reader something new. What information or skills can you share with them that they don’t already have? Do they have a problem you can help to solve? Pain you can help to alleviate? Or a solution you can move them one step closer to?
While a fiction book’s purpose is to entertain, a nonfiction book is meant to educate. There is still an emotional journey, but there is a big idea that you build the book around.
The bigger the problem you solve for a reader the more likely they are to buy your book. If you solve a problem that causes them pain from the moment they wake up until the moment they go back to bed, they are more likely to read your book than if you solve a problem that won’t start for ten years.
In addition to how much your book will affect the reader’s life, your level of passion is also important.
Write a list of potential book topis and then choose the one that you are most passionate about. While expertise on a subject is valuable, readers are more likely to finish the entire book if they sense your passion coming through the pages. The more they feel a sense of rapport with you, the more they will engage with the material.
It also helps that writing about your passion is a lot more fun. A writing career doesn’t have to feel like work. Successful writers enjoy their work.
What is your ideal reader’s biggest problem. How can you help them solve it? Your book should offer a solution to your reader’s problem.
We’ve looked at the reader’s motivation, now we want to look at yours. What is the best way you can improve you ideal reader’s life? How can you transform their life in a positive way?
There are multiple solutions to every problem. Do you have something to say that gets you really excited?
Why are you the one to write this book? What’s your unique story? What experiences do you have that make you the perfect person to write this book?
There are millions of books on every subject already. It’s very rarely the information that’s unique, more often it’s the person telling the story.
What is your unique story, passion or vision. What’s driving you to write this book?
You are the lens through which a reader looks at hte information. The more of your personality you embed into the story, the more powerful the book will become. A really solid book will combine research, passion and a topic that readers care about. When you combine all three you’re ready to begin writing.
Choose a Writing Process
Are you going to write with a typewriter, a laptop on the beach or dictate your book? Each writer has their own process, so find the one that works best for you. There is no wrong method. The most important part of success for a first-time writer is speed to results.
We’ve all met the writer who’s been working on their book for decades and you don’t want that to happen to you. A traditionally published book takes 18 months from when the book is finished to when the first copy is for sale in a bookstore.
That extremely long production cycle is disheartening. The faster your book is finished, the easier it is to stay on track. For the same reason it’s easier to stick with a one week diet than a six-month diet.
Choose a writing method that will let you get your first draft complete as quickly as possible. Here’s a writing secret:
It’s easy to improve a bad rough draft, it’s impossible to improve a blank page.
Our goal is to finish your book in thirty days and dictation is going to be our secret weapon. I’ve dictated over 300 bestsellers and you’ll find there is no faster way to lay down a rough draft.
That’s absolutely fine. The most important part of the writing process is laying down that first rough draft as quickly as possible. You can take that rough draft and edit and rewrite the entire thing book on your computer. We’ve found from working with thousands of clients that dictating your rough draft and then editing it to match your ideal style is massively more effective than trying to grind you a book using your keyboard.
If using the keyboard worked for you, you wouldn’t be here reading this article about how to write a book.
It’s much easier to polish a rough draft, even if you hate it, than it is to sit in front of a computer and write a book from scratch.
A lot of word processors underline words in red as soon as you make a typing mistake. We are trained to go back and fix that red error before we write the next sentence. This slows down the writing process as you start to think about editing and grammar which are logical processes rather than writing which is a creative process.
Dictation doesn’t allow you to edit. You can’t go back and change anything. You can only say it the right way after the mistake. The recording is always moving forward and forces you to lay down content in a purely creative process.
Create a Writing Space
Find a spot where you feel inspired. Your writing location is something sacred and should be a place where you are free to think and write without interruption. It doesn’t have to be a special room or anything like that, but it should be somewhere where you can focus on your writing.
Every writer has a favorite spot to work. If you’re dictating like I recommend, it can be at the park, in your car or at the beach. If you’re writing, then you want a dedicated writing space that gets your creative juices flowing.
My computer is set up in front of massive bay windows facing the ocean. I can’t use the computer during late afternoon because the sun is too bright, but the rest of the day I’m inspired by the view.
Your ideal writing space can be a coffee shop or a different chair in your house with your laptop. All that matters is you have a location that you think of as your writing space. When you go to that spot or sit in that chair, it will active the “time to write” part of your brain.
Every great writer talks about getting into the zone or flow state. The faster you can go from thinking about other things to writing at top speed, the better. The way to accomplish this is with a pre-writing ritual.
Everyone has a different way of doing this, but your ritual should be a series of steps that you go through before every single writing session. This can be something as simple as disconnecting the internet, setting your phone to silent and making a cup of tea.
You want a series of physical steps that tells your body that it’s time to start writing soon. This is the first of the writing habits you want to develop.
A good ritual will train your mind that it’s time to write and you’ll find getting into the flow that much easier.
Select the Perfect Book Tools
There are hundreds of tools designed to make the writing process better. Some authors still write entire books with pen and paper, others use a lucky typewriter. One thing I have notices it that most authors lock into a process early in their career are rarely change it.
I’ve been using the same writing tools for a decade and I’m really unlikely to change my word processor, even if one with a few new features some outs. For that reason you want to take this step seriously.
Switching from writing books by hand to dictation was really challenging for me and my first dictated book was a nightmare. I was learning a new process and also unlearning an old one. I want to help you skip over that challenge.
Most computers come with voice to text software that allows you to talk while words appear on the page. I don’t recommend that because you can still see the red underlining when you misspell a word and it can knock you out of your writing flow.
Instead, I dictate all of my books into an app in my phone. Right now the app I use is called Hi-Q, but it’s nothing special. I look for an app that has a good rating and automatically uploads backups to the cloud in real time. As long as the app creates backups in real time, I’m happy with it.
Try a few paid apps to see once that works for you and then upgrade to the paid version.
Scrivener is my favorite word processor and outlining tool. It’s great for writing books because you can see your entire outline at once and easily move sections around.
I also like how Scrivener keeps track of your progress and tells you how many words you have left to write in each section. This is a great way to stay on track and hit your daily word count goals. I like seeing my word count hit that daily goal so I can feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve done enough work for hte day.
I have written numerous articles and trainings all around how Scrivener is the best word processor that I’ve every used. It’s my recommendation for the writing phase absolutely.
Word it the most well-known word processor in the world for a reason. Many writers use it because it’s the gold standard. It’s reliable, automatically saves your progress and everyone is familiar with the format.
It’s the standard because it’s been around so long and my last editor always made me convert my books from Scriver to Word before she edited them. It’s kind of the universal format and fortunately Scrivener can export to Word format as needed.
You can work on your book from different locations and different devices. Google docs always syncs and saves your progress automatically.
The downside is that it’s not as feature-rich as other word processors, but it makes up for it with its ease of use and portability. I write most of my blog posts in Google Docs so that I can switch between my desktop. laptop, tablets and phones with ease.
Every writer I talk to has more than one book idea in them. The key is to pick the right one.
There are a few things you should consider when brainstorming book ideas:
- Passions and interests
- Expertise and knowledge
- Experiences and stories
Your book idea should fit into one of these three categories. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not a good idea.
For example, I’m passionate about travel , but I don’t have any expertise or experience in the travel industry. So a book about how to travel the world on a budget wouldn’t be a good idea for me.
On the other hand, I’m passionate about personal finance, I have a lot of expertise and knowledge in the area and I have interesting stories to share. So a book about how to get out of debt and build wealth would be a good idea for me.
Build out a list of all your potential book ideas before you start narrowing down that list.
Decide Which Book to Write First
Now that you’ve brainstormed some ideas, it’s time to choose the best one. My primary business is an affiliate marketer , so I pick the book that will be the most profitable for that business. I come up with my book ideas using the creative side of my brain and I narrow down to the winner using the logical side of my brain.
There are several questions that you can ask to find which book you should write first.
If you’re writing a book as part of your business, choose the one that will generate the most revenue first. Which book opens up the most profitable niche or do you have the most resources you can leverage? The profit from your first book can give you the runway for your passion project.
You want to get your first book done as quickly as possible so that you can start generating revenue and building an audience. It’s better to finish a good book this month than a great book in five years.
Passion is the fuel for your writing engine. The more your book excites you, the more likely you are to stay the course. If you hate your book, you’ll get stuck in the middle.
One finished book is worth more than a hundred half-finished manuscripts. Choose the book that gives you the most points in the previous three categories. This is the book that you’re most likely to finish and that’s the most important part. This is how you write a book in thirty days.
Outline Your Book
Once you’ve decided which book to write, it’s time to outline it. This is where Scrivener comes in handy because you can see your entire outline at once. There are quite a few amazing dedicated outlining tools to choose from. Depending on the nature of your book, you may want a dedicated outlining option.
When creating my first outline, I like to start with a high-level overview of the chapters I want to include. Then I break each chapter down into smaller sections.
For each section, I write a brief description of what it’s going to cover. This helps me stay on track when I’m writing and make sure I hit all the key points I want to include.
Now that you’ve decided which book to write, it’s time to start planning it out. I like to use a simple three-part structure for my books:
- The Problem
This is the basic structure of how-to books, self-help books and business books. It’s simple and it works.
In the first part of your book, you need to identify the problem that your reader is facing. This is where you do the bulk of your research. You want to make sure you really understand the problem and that you’re not just making assumptions.
To do this, you can talk to people who are experiencing the problem, read books and articles about it, and look for statistics that support your claims.
You can find so much information online these days that this section is usually my favorite because it writes itself. Find a forum where people discuss the problem and find the threads with the most comments and replies. If people are talking about it, then it’s important that your book include it.
In the second part of your book, you need to offer a solution to the problem you’ve identified in Part One. This is where you share your expertise and show your reader how to solve their problem.
To do this, you can share your own experiences, give step-by-step instructions, and recommend resources that they can use. You can even interview experts and distill their wisdom into language that regular people can understand and implement. You can be the translator rather than the expert.
Some problems have multiple solutions so this section can show multiple paths for your readers to choose from.
Just helping readers to understand their available options is valuable.
In the third part of your book, you need to show your reader what they can expect if they implement your solution. This is where you show them how you’ve helped people who have been in their shoes and what results they can expect.
To do this, you can share case studies, testimonials, and statistics that support your claims.
Depending on the type of topic your covering, different types of proof will work the best. For a book on a medical treatment, you might have dozens of footnotes pointing to medical studies and peer-reviewed articles. For a book on finances, you might show case studies from companies that implemented your process.
The important thing is to back up your solution with real-world results to confirm that your idea is more than just an idea.
This is the one step that differs from writing non-fiction. If you want to write fiction, your book will be driven by characters and included dialog. In this additional step, it can help to create a character sheet for each character in your book. Even if you’re dictating the book, having a sheet that lists the character’s names and features really helps.
You don’t want to put the eye-patch on the wrong eye in chapter four!
When creating your outline, make sure to include character names more than you think that you need to. I’ve found when dictating fiction that if I don’t write down which characters are in each scene, I start to change character’s names.
An outline only needs to be as deep as it takes for you to know what you meant. Writer’s block happens when you hit a missing bullet point in your outline. If there was something you meant to say but you don’t remember or you can’t remember what was supposed to come next, you will stumble.
If you can fill in the blanks between each of your bullet points without needing any other notes to remind you, then your outline is complete. This usually means three layers to your outline – Chapters, sections, subheadings. Whether I’m using a mind map or linear outline, I find three layers works for me.
Have you ever written a list of tasks for the day and when you look a few hours later you cant’ even tell when you meant to do seventh? Sometimes this happens because the word got smudged and sometimes it’s because I didn’t write enough words to tell me exactly what the task was supposed to be.
After you finish your outline, wait at least one day and re-read the entire outline out loud. If you hit a single bullet point and think, “I’m not sure what I meant” then you have a problem. You need to fix that before you go into your writing phase because you will stumble. It’s better to fix those little gaps now.
Sometimes research becomes an excuse for inaction. If you’re book is going to take months of research, work on a different one first. We want to hit our goal of finishing your book fast, so create a realistic timeline for your research and make that a hard out.
I have seen writers get stuck in the research quicksand. There is always more information and a new study coming out. Waiting for that next piece of data can keep you frozen and your book will die before its even born.
Your book should be broken into 500-word sections. This is where Scrivener really shines as it’s designed to let you write one small section at a time. If you’re dictating, your sections can be slightly longer but never more than fifteen minutes of speaking. Anything longer and there is a good chance you’ll lose your train of thought.
When an outline is properly fragmented you can write any section in any order.
This is our second defense against writer’s block. If you hit a section where you don’t know what to write, you can skip to the next section and keep writing.
This is better than slamming the brakes on your writing process and switching back into the planning part of the process. You can deal with that missing section after the rough draft is complete when you’re back on the computer editing and rewriting.
The key to success is consistency . Set aside time each day to write, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. The important thing is to show up and do the work. Over time, you will develop the habit of writing and it will become easier and easier to sit down and write each day.
It doesn’t matter when you have your writing sessions, but we find that scheduling them in advance and putting them on your calendar makes them more likely to happen. Every writer has a different time of day that works for them. Find the time that works best for you and put it onto your calendar. Treat it just like any other important meeting and you’ll start to get some actual writing done.
The key to writing a book in 30 days is to set a daily word count goal and stick to it.
When writing on the computer, I like to set my goals using the Pomodoro Technique. I break my day down into 25-minute blocks and I use a timer to stay focused.
For each 25-minute block, I set a goal for how many words I want to write. For me, that number is usually between 500 and 1000 words. Each time I finish a fragment, I can reward myself with a feeling of accomplishment and a little break.
Your schedule is determined by the word length. To finish a 30,000-word book in thirty days, you need to write 1,000 words each day. That means completing two fragments each session.
Dictating your book can be measured in minutes. Most people speak around 115 words pre minute, so you need to dictate for 9 minutes to hit 1,000 words per day. Can you commit to ten minutes of writing time a day?
The outline will never be perfect. The atmosphere will never be ideal. There is always a reason to delay just one more day from starting, but once you start doing that it will keep happening. Don’t let procrastination become your writing habit.
This is where the actual writing begins. You know how to write a book, now you just have to do it.
Be prepared for a little writer’s block and know that it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It happens to most authors and it’s always a function of a flaw in the outline.
Write’s block means you don’t know what to write next. And that means you haven’t planned what’s going to happen next. Sometimes you are writing a section and you don’t like how it’s turning out.
Both of these problems have the same solution. Skip to the next scene. If that doesn’t work, skip to the next chapter. Finish your rough draft and then come back during the editing process and re-outline the missing sections.
A common mistake is to bring your writing to a screeching halt and say I can’t do more writing until I figure out this section. Don’t do that.
If you’re writing on the computer, turn off all the editing options. You don’t need those red and green lines distracting you. The goal now is to pour out words as quickly as possible. We can worry about grammar, story structure and perfection in the editing process.
Make a commitment to yourself to never hit the back arrow or the delete key. If you make a mistake just write the word again or leave the misspelling. It sounds a little strange because we aren’t trained to write that way in school, but for your book the only metric that matters is word count.
When writing your first draft, you can unplug the mouse. There are some pretty cool word processors that are designed to be mouse-less and it’s a good rule to create. As soon as you reach for the mouse, you know you’re doing something wrong.
Every single one of my books was published with mistakes in grammar, tense and spelling. Even books I published with a professional editor doing multiple passes, mistakes made it out the door. It’s the price of doing business. I love writing nonfiction and that means my books are educational and true stories about myself.
I don’t want those books to have mistakes, but I accept that they are inevitable.
The beauty of modern publishing is that I can get an email about a typo, update the master file on all the bookstores and push the update. The mistake is erased from history.
Whenever I meet an author who is on their tenth rewrite, I get sad for them. They are trapped in a perfection cycle and it’s impossible to achieve perfection.
I know a few authors who are much better writers than me, but nobody else knows because they’ve never published their books. They are still trying to make them perfect.
Let go of that fear. There are going to be typos and you are going to get bad reviews and it’s ok.
One percent of all the reviews on Amazon for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are 1 star reviews. One of of every hundred people who read that book, hate it.
It doesn’t matter how great your book is, somebody will hate it.
Accept you’ll make mistakes
You’re going to say the wrong phrase, mess up sections and even repeat yourself during the rough draft process. I know that because I’ve done this. And it’s ok.
Show yourself a little kindness and mercy.
You can fix all of these mistakes in the editing and rewriting phases.
Everyone has a reason for why they haven’t started their book. When I tell people that I’m an author, they tell me they are an author too. A few minutes later I discover that they haven’t started writing yet.
This appears to a profession where you can say it’s your job even if you’ve never done it.
Everyone has a reason to start tomorrow. Don’t be that person.
Be fastidious and strategic with your writing time. You have no idea how long it took me to write this article. And you don’t care.
Readers do not care how long it took you to write each chapter, so you might as well do it faster. Your book writing time is precious and you need to protect it however you can.
When I’m writing, I’m very strict about distractions and how loud my children are allowed to be. It’s the one time that I keep sacrosanct because losing your writing rhythm is the worst.
No worse feeling that losing your train of thought and you can’t remember what you wanted to say.
Turn off as many distractions as you can responsibly. Turn off the internet, social media and your phone. This is a window of time you need to protect.
Once you’ve laid down your book, the editing process is easier. Editing a book on your own is really difficult and paying a professional editor is really expensive.
The built-in editors, grammar checkers and spell checkers in most word processors are garbage. The spell check in Scrivener is the worst I’ve even encountered and it’s very frequently unable to figure out a word where I’ve only messed up a single letter.
The best option is a purpose built editing tool for this phase. There are four well known tools for this phase,
I recommend using Pro Writing Aid. It’s an AI-powered editing tool that will help you improve your writing.
It’s really affordable and it has a free version that you can use to edit your book. If you’re going to go pro, get the lifetime license. It’s the best value and over time will pay for itself.
There are many different tools available to help you with the writing process, but ProWritingAid is one of the best. Here are some of the features that make ProWriting Add my favorite book writing software:
1. It can help you plan and structure your book. ProWritingAid will analyze your work and suggest a potential outline for you. This can be a great starting point for organizing your thoughts and getting a clear vision for your book.
2. It will catch errors and typos that you might miss. With ProWritingAid, you can be confident that your book will be free of any errors or typos. This will give it a professional look and make it more polished overall.
3. It can help you improve your writing style. ProWritingAid provides detailed feedback on your writing, including suggestions for improving clarity, conciseness, and more. This can be invaluable for polishing your writing and making it more engaging for readers.
Overall, ProWritingAid is an excellent tool for helping you write a book. If you’re looking for a way to streamline the process and produce a high-quality product, ProWritingAid is definitely worth considering.
Format Your Book
Once your book is edited, you need to put it into a format that the bookstores are going to like. For your paperback, this means a PDF file and for your ebook this means an ePUb file. Those are technical formats that don’t matter until your trying to upload to Amazon.
There are a few options that make it easy to format your book.
I love writing my books within Scrivener, but it also has some amazing export features. You can easily generate a final format that will look great from Scrivener. Scrivener calls this compiling and you can determine what each section-type will look like, the fil format and how you handle page breaks.
Many independent authors publish all their books straight from Scrivener. THe beauty of this tool is that you already own it, so it’s no additional cost.
My team and I ghostwrite a lot of books for clients and we deliver the final draft using Reedsy. It’s a free platform that generates all the necessary formats for you (EPUB, MOBI, PDF).
This tool has very limited options, which means it’s hard to break anything. It does one job and it does it very well.
It’s as easy as upload your manuscript file, choose your trim size, interior style and hit publish. Within seconds Reedsy generates a beautiful print-ready PDF that you can use as the interior for your paperback and hardback editions.
I’ve been formatting my books with Vellum for years now and I love their platform. The tool is Mac-only, but it’s a good investment if you plan on writing multiple books.
Vellum automatically formats your book for Kindle, iBooks, and Nook, so you don’t need to worry about the different file types. Vellum also includes features such as an automated table of contents and live preview, which allows you to see how your book will look on different devices before you publish it.
There are a lot of sections that I re-use in my books, such as my “About the Author” page. With Vellum, I can drag these pages from one book in to the next. That makes my life a lot easier. It’s a great tool that gives you a little more power than Reedsy.
Create a Captivating Book Cover
It’s true that people will judge your book by it’s cover. It doesn’t matter how good your book is if nobody ever reads it. You want a cover that’s going to captivate potential readers and make them want to learn more about your book.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when designing your book cover .
First, you want to make sure that the title and author name are legible. The title should be big and bold, while the author name should fill the entire width of the cover.
Second, choose an image that represents your book’s core idea. One image to create one idea. This will be different for each niche. If your book is a cosy mystery, I will expect to see the murder weapon sticking out of a cake. The image should be clean and represent one word to avoid confusion.
Third, treat your book like a book cover. It’s not a piece of art. It is meant to represent very specific meaning. It needs to match your niche, look good in black and white and be clear even when it’s very small.
By following these tips, you can create a book cover that will captivate potential readers and make them want to learn more about your book.
The easiest way to create a create cover without breaking the bank is to use a template. I’ve spent years working with top designers to create the Ultimate Cover Collection . It’s a set of over one hundred book cover templates .
Each cover is modeled on existing bestsellers from the blocking to the colors to the text. Every single book has a unique back cover, with the perfect fonts. You can mix and match front and back covers to your heart’s content.
Every single cover comes with a front cover, paperback, audiobook and social media template. Everything you need to inspire you to create a high-converting cover.
My cover for Serve No Master cost only five bucks. It’s hard to find anyone one Fiverr that still charges this price. I usually hire three designers at the same time, so I have a large pool of options to choose from. This helps me find an amazing cover, rather than an acceptable cover.
At a certain phase in your business you need multiple designs every month. When that happens you need more than the a la carte options on Fiverr and less than the headache of a full time in-house graphic designer. That’s where a new breed of graphic design services come in.
There are lot of companies in this space now, so I’ve created a review of the best unlimited graphic design services to help you choose the best option. Right now my favorite is Penji , you can get an amazing design for your book cover and all your other graphic needs.
The next level of cover design is 100Covers . They designed the cover for Give to Get and they are very serious about what they do. They are a little more expensive than the previous options but you’re going to get a cover that looks like a million bucks.
I’ve worked with them on multiple projects and when nothing but the best will do, this is the company that I work with.
Now that you have a finished book, it’s time to publish it. If you want to self-publish your book, the easiest way to do so is to use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. KDP is a free service that allows you to upload your book in PDF or EPUB format and make it available for sale on Amazon.com .
When you upload your book to KDP, you’ll be able to set the price of your book and choose how you want to receive payments. Once your book is published, it will be available for purchase on Amazon.com and you’ll receive a 70% royalty on each sale.
By using KDP, you can self-publish your book and make it available for sale to millions of potential readers.
The amount of time it takes to write a book depends on the length of the book and how fast you write. Using the methods in this article, you should finish your first book in less than thirty days.
Yes, you can make money writing a book. If you self-publish your book, you’ll be able to set your own price and receive a 70% royalty on each sale. You can also earn money by selling the rights to your book to a publisher.
Yes, anyone can write a book. However, not everyone will be able to write a good book. If you want to write a good book, it’s important to have something interesting to say and the ability to communicate your ideas clearly.
All you need to write a book is a computer and a word processing program. However, there are some other tools that can make the process of writing a book easier. For example, you might want to use a program like Scrivener to help you organize your thoughts and structure your book. You might also want to use a program like ProWritingAid to help you proofread and edit your book. Finally, if you’re self-publishing your book, you’ll need to use a service like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to make your book available for sale.
The cost of publishing a book varies depending on how you choose to publish your book. If you self-publish your book, the only costs are for your word processor, editing software and book cover design. Everything after that is free. Amazon doesn’t charge you to publish books.
The difficulty of writing a book depends on the topic, length, and your own ability as a writer. If you have something interesting to say and you’re a good communicator, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to write a good book. However, if you’re struggling to come up with ideas or you’re not confident in your writing ability, then read this article again.
Writing a book in thirty days is possible if you have something interesting to say and you’re willing to work hard. Commit to just thirty minutes a day and you’ll hit that thirty day goal. This article covers everything I’ve learned from writing and publishing over three hundred bestsellers and you know how to write a book.
The most important step is to sit down and start writing. My potential authors don’t fail in the middle of writing, they fail because they never start. Find your process and stick with it.
Find the writing tools that match your style, choose a writing location where you can focus and set aside time that you focus on writing and nothing else. With these steps taken care of you can start writing without distraction.
When you finish writing your book, please share a link in the comments below to help inspire other budding authors and show that it really is possible to write a book in thirty days.
Thank you so much for reading this article and I can’t wait to see you become a New York Times Bestselling author.
Jonathan Green is a full-time blogger and affiliate marketing expert. Join Jonathan on ServeNoMaster.com to learn how to scale your online business. In addition to hosting the Serve No Master podcast, Jonathan is the bestselling author of multiple books including Serve No Master, Breaking Orbit, and Give to Get. He has helped thousands of people launch their first online business from a small tropical island in the South Pacific.
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How to Write a Novel in 30 Days or Less
Seven steps, 30 days (no mental breakdowns required).
Every year in November, tens of thousands of would-be authors, publishing novices, seasoned veterans, and those who fall somewhere in the middle, come out of their writing caves – blinking into the light – to join the global furour that is NaNoWriMo (otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month).
NaNoWriMo challenges writers to complete 50,000+ words of a novel in just 30 days. But the problem is… they don’t have to be “good” words.
Meaning 99% of authors (and soon-to-be authors) will sit down and try to hammer out 50,000 words of “whatever comes into their heads”.
Now, while I appreciate the goal of NaNoWriMo – and other writing events (getting people writing) – I believe there is a better way to write a book. Instead of just sitting down and “hoping for the best”, I always advocate having a plan of action.
So for this article, I’ve enlisted the help of Joe Nassise (pic above) – a NYT Bestelling author of over 40 novels (in several languages – and with over 1m books in print) to share his process for writing like a speed demon, without sacrificing quality. This is all part of a process we call Story Engines.
So, whether you’re planning to take part in the next NaNoWriMo or not, you can use this process to significantly increase both the speed and quality of your writing. And, if you’d like to get some more detailed training, check out our full “Story Engines” video series for free right here:
And in the meantime, let’s dig into the detail… (Note: we are switching between UK and US grammar and spelling now – so any grammar hounds out there, please keep it clean).
For so many authors, the idea of writing a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days is enough to get them worked up into a frenzy of stress. And while writing a full draft in 30 days might seem like tall order, it is actually very doable if you approach the process from the right perspective and have all your ducks in a row before hand.
To be certain that you do – have all your ducks in a row, that is – I’m going to walk you through the very process I would use if was intending to tackle a challenge like this. Am intending to use, in fact, because I’m going to be participating in NaNoWriMo again myself this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to be sitting around until then – this is a process you can use every day to get those words out.
Before we dive into that process, though, let’s be clear on what we need to accomplish to reach our goal. To hit 50,000 words in 30 days, we need to write 1,667 words per day. Believe it or not, that’s pretty manageable. If you set aside and hour or two per day, you’ll be surprised how much you’re capable of [EDIT FROM NICK: A little FYI… This article is 2,500+ words long and it took Joe about 2 hours].
Doesn’t sound all that tough when you put it like that, now does it?
“But wait!”, I hear you say. “How do I know which specific words I need to write each day? Who are my characters and what’s their story and how do I put it all down on paper and not get lost in the telling and…and…and…”
Breathe, Grasshopper. Breathe. (And an extra ten points to those of you who get the reference)
You are going to know which words you need to write each day because you and I are going to figure all of that out ahead of time. When Nov 1st rolls around, you’re going to have your entire story planned out, using the “Story Engines” process we’re talking about in this article, and you’ll be set to hit the ground running with nary a worry.
So how do we do that?
My process is simple and it involves seven specific steps.
- Brainstorming and Ordering My Scenes
- Verifying My Structure and Confirming My Final Scene List
- Writing the First Draft
- Editing, Rewrites, and Polishing the Final Draft
Each step moves you along the path and confirms the “rightness” of the step before it, so you don’t get halfway through the project only to realize you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. The process is designed to save you the time and effort needed for massive rewrites and to keep you moving briskly forward toward completion. You need to complete steps 1-5 before Nov 1st. Steps 6-7 are what keep you moving briskly forward once the challenge kicks off.
Now, bear in mind – each of these 7 steps will involve building your story around a specific story structure. That is, making sure your book consists of “the right scenes in the right order”, to give your story the right pacing and impact (to keep readers hooked). We’ll talk about that more in steps 4-5.
So, let’s take a look at them one at a time…
Step One: The Idea
This sounds almost elementary, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a student who really doesn’t know what they are writing about. It’s damn hard to write 50,000 words on a given subject if you don’t really know what that subject is.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to write about. Don’t get fancy, just generalize. Maybe you want to write a novel about the discovery of a lost continent. Or one about a kid growing up in the Wild West. Or perhaps the story of a princess who has a terminal illness and the prince who valiantly tries to save her.
The ideas can even be combinations of existing ideas, presented in a new way. Eg:
Samurai in Space : Star Wars Time Travel and Sherlock Holmes: Dr Who Dances with Wolves on a Different Planet: Avatar
You get the gist. It can, quite literally, be anything as long as it is interesting to you and captures your enthusiasm. Without that, you’re going to have a hard time keeping focused.
Step Two: The Premise
A premise is a working summary of the story you want to tell honed down to a sentence or two. It effectively answers the question “What is your novel about?”
In this step, we take the general idea you came up with in step one and give it specifics. When done properly it should tell you who the main character or hero of the story is, what they must do to win the day, and both the nature of the opposition and the stakes at risk if they fail.
One simple way of doing this is to plug your information into a simple formula:
(Novel Name) is about (character info) who must (goal that needs to be achieved) in order to (stakes and opposition)
For example – The Heretic is about a modern Templar knight who must retrieve an ancient artifact from a powerful necromancer before it can be used to create a literal hell on earth.
See? We’re turning the “idea” into something more fully fledged by adding characters, goals, opposition, and stakes.
Character: the Templar Knight. Goal: retrieve ancient artifact Opposition: powerful necromancer Stakes: hell on earth
Introducing the opposition and stakes also brings conflict into your story – which is incredibly important (without conflict, the story is dull). And fun fact: you can use your premise to write your book description or “blurb” later.
Step Three: Characters
Now that you have your premise, you know who your hero and your villain are. It time to flesh them out a bit, to bring them to live in your mind so you can figure out what the story you intend to tell about them will be.
I always do this be asking myself a few specific questions about each of them (and about any other major character I want to detail at this point.) Those questions are:
- What does the character want? (What is their specific, concrete goal?)
- What drives the character toward that goal? (What motivates them?)
- How will they change during the course of the struggle? (What do the learn or discover about themselves?)
It is key to remember that stories are about conflict. Without it, you’ve got nothing more than a slice of life. In order to have conflict, the goals of your hero and your villain need to be diametrically opposed to each other. Let me say that again – the goals of your hero and your villain need to be diametrically opposed to each other.
Step Four: Brainstorming and Ordering My Scenes
The act of creating your premise and detailing your characters will no doubt get the creative juices flowing. You’re probably already seeing individual scenes in your head featuring these characters. That’s good – that’s exactly what we want.
Without editing yourself in any way, start writing down those scenes. I tend to use a set of index cards and just jot down whatever comes to mind, one scene per card. They don’t have to be too detailed; the idea here is to just capture the scene so that you don’t forget it.
A scene card from a recent novel of mine looked like this:
“Cade’s presence in the reliquary sets off an arcane warning system set up by the Templars when they abandoned the facility and a squad of knights are dispatched to investigate.”
Every scene I envision goes down on a card. Doesn’t matter if I know where it fits in the story yet or even if it sounds utterly ridiculous at the moment – if it comes to me, I write it down. I’m basically doing an uncensored imagination dump, just letting my subconscious throw stuff up to the surface and getting it down on paper (note: you can write these down on actual “cards” or use software, like Scrivener).
Step Five: Structure and Final Scene List
Next, I lay out all my cards and start trying to build a story around them. I identify or create my three game changing moments as per the Story Engines structure:
- The Preparation Phase (introducing the characters, setting, and creating a connection with readers). Here, you get a glimpse into the “daily life” of your hero or heroine – making them more relatable and helping to establish an emotional connection.
- Game Changing Moment (GCM) 1 : The “event” that forces the hero or heroine out of their “daily life” and pushes them into reacting. Eg “Luke Skywalker’s family is killed”.
- The Reactive Phase : The protagonist “reacts” to events, rather than directing them. Think about the movie Se7en – this is the phase where the detectives are “running around like a chicken with its head cut off”.
- GCM 2: A second event that pushes the protagonist into a more active role. Think “the killer leaves a vital clue” or “the lovers share their first kiss”. The stakes are raised.
- The Proactive Phase: the hero or heroine now takes control (as opposed to in the reactive phase) and gets closer to their goal.
- GCM 3: The final game changing moment. Here the hero or heroine finds what they need to finally meet their goal and overcome the main conflict of the story.
- Conclusion Phase: all the loose ends are tied up, the ending is established. You might even decide to sneak in a cliff-hanger…
This progression of “story elements” is what binds your story together. With the right structure, you avoid “the muddy middle”, and you can anticipate which scenes need to go where, and which ones might not even fit in your story (eg – you can cut them out).
So, using the Story Engines structure listed above, next I’ll organize my selected scenes in chronological order (either physical cue cards or using software – like Scrivener). I will add new cards to help flush out the flow of the story as necessary, working to balance my four major phases and three game-changing moment (again, per the Story Engines process.)
In the end, I will have a card for each scene in the proper order of their appearance in the story. I will be able to see if my story is balanced and containing the right elements by comparing my cards with the 7 key elements of the Story Engines system. And, more importantly, I will know exactly what to write when during my thirty day deadline because my novel will be completely mapped out from start to finish.
And if you’re more of a “pantser” (eg – you write “by the seat of your pants”) that’s okay too. You might just choose to include a little less detail for each scene or use “roadsigns” instead of a full-blown map and GPS system.
Step Six: Writing the First Draft
With all of my planning out of the way, I’m ready to start writing my first draft. I know what the story is about. I’ve got a good sense of my characters and what they want. I know why they will end up in conflict with each other and how that conflict will resolve. I even know what happens in each scene. In short, I have everything I need to get underway.
Writing for me is a question of focusing, so I use another system called sprinting to get my words done each day. I set a timer for 25 minutes and write during that time. No distractions with research or checking details or playing on social media – I just write. Just raw production without worrying about how good it sounds or if I could have said something better. Editing is for later; this part of my process is just for getting words down on paper.
When the 25 minutes are up and my timer dings, I get up and do something else for five or ten minutes. Give my brain a break. Then it back at it for another sprint of twenty-five minutes and so on. I try to four to six sprints a day if I can manage it. I average anywhere from 500 to 1500 words per sprint – depends on how my day is going, how focused I can remain throughout, etc. You’ll have your own rate, perhaps better, perhaps worse than mine. It isn’t a race, so no need to compare yourself to my pace. Just set your own and stick to it.
Step Seven: Editing, Rewriting, and Polishing
Once the draft is done, I print it out, stick it in a three ring binder, and settle in to start the editing process (printing it out helps me see mistakes I wouldn’t see on the computer screen.
Your ear is a far better gauge of how well you’ve written than your eyes are (because your eyes see what you think you wrote, rather than what you actually wrote), so I settle in with a pen for note taking and start reading my manuscript aloud to myself. I listen for clunky phrasing, poor descriptions, place where things just don’t make sense, etc. I’ll make notes right on the manuscript, reminding myself what needs to be done where to bring the work up to the standard that I have set for myself.
The Story Engines process is all about planning your story out ahead of time and so I rarely have to do any major rewrites because I already know that the story works as I’ve planned it out. That doesn’t mean I’m not cleaning up the manuscript; my first drafts are as crappy as anyone else’s. But it does mean that I’m not throwing away 30% of my draft because I didn’t understand the essential conflict in the novel or I wandered down a bunny trail that had nothing to do with the main plot.
With my editing notes right there in the binder next to me, I sit down and begin the final step of my process – polishing the manuscript. I’ll correct the errors, clean up the clunky phrasing, add details where needed, all the little things that take a rough draft and turn it into a clean, readable manuscript.
So, that’s seven steps, each with a specific goal and each moving your novel project further in the direction of completion. By the time you are done, not only will you have a completed draft, but you’ll know holds together like a finely-tuned machine and will take your readers on an emotional journey that will keep them coming back for more.
99% of story problems are down to structure. Use the seven-stage Story Engines structure above to keep your story pacing along, with the right action beats, in the right order.
When preparing your book, come up with a few “ideas”. Use the formula I shared with you to turn these ideas into premises – and those that hold up to scrutiny are good to go.
Next, brainstorm some scenes – just a headline and a few brief bullets – and arrange them in the correct order (using the Story Engines structure). When each of your phases has enough scenes, you can move on to writing.
When you write the book, try “sprinting” to improve your speed and focus. Save research for later. Don’t edit as you write. Carve out parts of the day just for writing.
Finally, go back and re-write those parts that need a little tweak, edit up the grammar and spelling, and you are good to go with a manuscript that’s ready to be sent off for final edits and proofing, and – shortly afterwards – publication.
Back to Nick…
If you’d like to learn more about the Story Engines process – including the structure of a blockbuster novel and the seven-step process to write your novel in 30 days – check out our free video training series. We’ve got 90 minutes of awesomeness all lined up for you – and by the time you’ve completed the free material, you’ll have a solid blueprint ready to rock (and help you get your first – or next – book written in record time).
Click the button below to get started:
Now, I need to hear from you… What’s your #1 struggle when it comes to writing your books? Do you get stuck in “the muddy middle”? Do you give up half-way through when you realise something “just doesn’t work”? Do you struggle to find the time?
Let me know your #1 struggle with writing your books in the comments below – I read every single one.
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Excellent article. Thanks guys!
My #1 struggle. Easy. It’s the fork in the road. More specifically, I am confronted with multiple ways to move the plot from “A” to “B” and I spin my wheels trying to decide which way to go. or I need something to happen, but I can’t decide if it would work better before “A” or after “B.”
I’ve got this story (“Man vs environment” type, potential to be a multi-volume saga) I’ve been working on off and on for the last 10+ years. I’ve got the premise polished to a mirror-shine, the preparation and GCM, edited to a millimeter of their lives, and three or four milestones my characters have to get past. But they just sit around the fire and won’t move form one milestone to the next.
It sounds like you have the most difficult parts solidified! It’s so hard when you don’t know how to get your characters up off the logs and onto the next GCM, and as a result you just sit around the fire as well. 🙂 The “sitting around the fire” scenes are great times to let readers get to know the characters better (to see how they reacted to the previous GCM), see how they will make decisions going forward, and to foreshadow and propel to the next GCM. I like linear stories, too, that lead (for example) from one GCM, then sit around the fire and talk, next GCM, then sit around another fire and talk some more, then next GCM, etc. This can happen quickly, without too much needing to happen during these “slow parts” of the story. Can’t wait to read your book! I hope we don’t have to wait 10 more years!
Wendy, That’s a good problem to have, and there’s actually a relatively easy answer to your problem. Whenever your characters hit the fork in the road, and you’re not sure which direction to choose, choose the one that will generate the most difficulty for your characters. This will keep the tension and the stakes high throughout and will keep your readers engaged with the story.
It’s not actually a “fork in the road” problem, it’s an “order of operations” problem. If they do “A,” then they don’t do “B,” but “B” has to happen before “C,” but “C” has to happen before “D,” which is why we want to do “A”in the first place…
The fork in the road … I tell writers to pick one. You can’t lose. Yes, you might lose time if you decide later that you should have chosen road B option and you chose A, but you’re growing as a writer, so your words aren’t lost. Before you chose A – make a note in the margin (I put five XXXXX’s there so I can return there later). In the notes, remind yourself that you’re choosing option A, but write down a brief synopsis of option B. Later, you might go back and choose B later, but invariably, I make A option work. Go with your gut.
Thanks for the inspiration to buckle down with the herd during November! Even for the out-there author, I definitely need a deadline, and this is as good as any. My hurdle? Could say it’s Resistance, could say it’s conscious choice to let something stew, but I know it’s not having a crystal clear Why for my characters at this point in their journey (Book 3). What got them here won’t get them there, and I’ve stagnated on clarifying that. All the What’s are aligned, the pace, the arc, but I couldn’t give two poops less if they accomplish it because the Why isn’t strong enough. Looks like I’ve got 19 days to figure it out, huh?
Lack of oomph with your “why” typically means your stakes aren’t strong enough, Travis. Focus on giving the stakes specific relevance to your characters to drive them deeper into the story.
My biggest problem is finding enough time so i can give my 1/3 finished novel the attention he deserves. If i had uninterrupted time for even 30 days I know i will finish the first major draft of the novel. But financial commitments to survive first and then get my story told is a mega distraction and annoyance. Anthony Mondal(Poet/novelist)
I had the same issue when I started my career, Anthony. The day job, the family, assorted other commitments – they all kept me from writing. My solution was to find extra time day; time that wasn’t being used productively that I could then devote to writing. I ended up writing from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. every night, because during those hours I didn’t have any other demands on my time. If you can find even 15 minutes each day to devote to your writing this time next month you’ll be that much further along. Suggestions might be to write during your lunch break, right during your commute, skip a half hour of television, get up a half hour earlier, go to bed half hour later, the permutations are endless.
Thanks for the preview of the Seven Steps. Even though there’s an “I knew that!” in my mind, the steps organize my thinking and my story much better than if I were trying to do it otherwise. I’ll be there Saturday with bells on.
Glad to hear it was helpful, Rosanne!
Time is my biggest issue. Like Joe I’ve had to write late at night. Even so I’m my own worst enemy- always critical of my words to the point where I grind to a stop or at least a slow crawl. This just adds to the time shortage.
That’s one of the reasons I never edit anything until I am done with the first draft, Kurt. I vomit it all out on paper first, to see the story in its entirety, and only then do I go back and start editing, polishing, etc.
I think my biggest hurdle is working out the details. Coming up with general concepts and milestones is easy, but figuring out what scenes need to happen to get from one milestone to the next, let alone how to make those scenes play out in the right way to get where you need it to go, that’s where I always get tripped up.
C – Understanding story structure and applying that understanding to your work in progress will go a long way to helping with that issue.
My biggest hurdle? Being my own worst critic! My rewrites are “endless” because I’m never truly satisfied with what I wrote!😳🙄
Not much I can help you with on that end, Alyson. You need to learn to trust your writing instincts and let go!
When to stop research and start writing
I give myself a specific timeframe for research, Anna, and then I start writing no matter what. I write a World War I series and my research could literally be endless as I love to learn about that time period and the exact details of each conflict. By setting a specific deadline (two weeks for research, for example) I keep myself from going down the rabbit hole. 90% of what you think you need you never end up using anyway.
Great blog, guys! I was thinking of doing Nano this year but, you know what? I really need the push! I’m engaged to the most beautiful lady who I have no clue what she sees in me, a beautiful 1 1/2 month old daughter who is too young to fall off her bed yet (sorry, Nick! Hehe!), and a ton of things we are trying to get done together before we marry (baptism, rent a house, etc) so time is something I need to make.
But that’s not my real problem. No, my problem is that once I accomplish the feat of writing the next great novel, I put it aside and just can’t get interested in getting the rewrites done. My first draft is usually almost good enough for publishing (almost, I did say!) but getting that last bit done, well… If only there was a Nano for final drafts..?
I’ve signed up for the big event on Sunday at 3 am (Philippines time… I’ll be the guy yawning in his expresso)… Nah, it won’t be that bad for me. I normally get up at 4 am to start writing…
Will see you there, Bob!
Great article. My biggest struggle? The muddle in the middle! Getting 30,000 words in and finding my premise isn’t holding up, or my characters are going in circles. Maddening.
Marie – this is the primary reason why I am an advocate of mapping out your entire story ahead of time. If you do, you tend to avoid the massive rewrites you are talking about because you know that the story will work – at least from a structural standpoint – before you write word one.
#1 Struggle while writing a novel is that, I have the plot, I know the story and everything but I struggle at writing the fillers and if suppose I want to write a chapter, then what fillers to write in that chapter. That’s it, these are stopping me from completing my novel.
What, exactly, do you mean by “the fillers?”
Lovely, simplified explanation of the process – thanks!
My biggest struggle is probably the psychological mayhem that comes about midway through the book. Even with my plan in place, I inevitably start to question the quality of the plot & lose all objectivity, getting stuck in a “woe is me!” wallow. Any advice for curing writer’s slump?
Looking forward to the Webinar!
Mex – what, exactly, is it that your are questioning? Whenever I get to the 30% point in any novel (and I’ve written over 40 so far!) I absolutely hate what I’ve done. It’s a natural part of the process to do so. But I also know that when I reach the 50% point, I start to like the book again. All I need to do is grit my teeth and keep going and my natural pessimist seems to take a back seat.
Sorry, typo – that should have said Mez.
Great article I use something similar to outline the plot, the twists. the characters, who they are what they like etc. I jot down plot ideas as they occur to me then reorder them by cut & paste. I also keep a running plot detail record so I know what happened & when. Greatest challenge? Finding time and not getting distracted by social media, email, life, research etc.
Catherine – Focus can certainly be a difficult problem. The springing method I mentioned in the article can be a good way to combat this. Assigning small rewards to give yourself after meeting your word count for the session/day can also help.
This is excellent. Thank you for all of these great ideas. I can’t make the webinar this Sat. so this is a lovely substitute. I especially like the scene cards idea and can’t wait to use them. It took me many years to write my last novel, and I know I can’t take that much time this time around, so this method is a game-changer.
My main struggle is not enough conflict. I think I can rely on the characters and scenery (I write about surfing, so there’s lots of action) but forget to have a strong conflict or bad guy. It was the reason I had to throw out 40% of my last book’s draft. This time around, I’m aware of this and can plan ahead. I love the line about how the antagonist has to have goals that are exactly opposite of the protagonist’s. So simple yet brilliant. The one thing not covered here is how do you know when you have enough scenes to start writing? Last book was too long (85,000). I’m writing this book to be a free “magnet” book, and want to keep it at 70K max. I’m afraid it’ll be too short or too long. Any tips for know the correct number of scenes to hit this goal?
Glad the article was helpful, Amy!
Novel length has changed so much in recent years that I’m not sure there is an exact answer to your question. A commercial genre novel typically runs about 80-85k words right now, so you’re last book was right on target. Independently published books can get away with being shorter – 50-70K seems to be about average for many self-published writers these days.
Most of the time, my struggle is to connect point A to B and to find logicial explanationas how A comes to B. So, you know the end of the story but you have no idea how to get there without skipping important parts or turns in the story, and to keep a logicial flow. But I guess this is just the essence of story writing and everyone struggles with it 🙂
Working through a story structure process like the one outlined in this article (and in much greater detail in the Story Engines course) will help you figure out how to build your story one step at a time and to be sure that it flows in a logical manner.
This was Excellent! I own a ton of books on writing, writing faster, structure, etc, but None of them described the process in such a simple, straightforward, and more importantly, non-scary, doable manner! I am a big-time pantser because thinking of pre-building the story used to give me anxiety. This post actually inspired me to plot out my next novel and I will be doing it exactly the way you have outlined here. Thank you a million! Lillith (10K student)
Good for you, Lilith! Knowing where you are going makes the writing process so much easier.
I write romance and women’s fiction. Could you tell me whereabouts in the 7 steps the moment that I’ve heard called ‘dark night of the soul’, ‘all is lost’ moment. ie the scene were the couple are parted, mainly due to their own actions and it seems will never get it together comes in? I imagine it would be between the proactive phase and the GCM3. Is this about right? Thanks.
Jacqueline – it is usually just before GCM#3, which reveals to the hero the information they need to take on the opposition one final time.
Lately I’ve been struggling with how to stay motivated when I don’t see great sales. A lot of the strategies you talk about don’t work because I’m not indie (I’ve published with 2 different small publishers, focusing on ebooks), but when my novel has sold 69 copies since May, and the Amazon rankings are steadily dropping, I sometimes wonder if I’m deluding myself into thinking my career will ever take off.
Jenna – Not sure I’m following you You say that “a lot of the strategies I talk about don’t work because you aren’t indie.” What strategies are you referring to? Those I included in the article are all relative to writing and that’s something that both indie and trad writers have to deal with.
As for help with motivation, I would dive into Steven Pressfield’s excellent book, The War of Art.
I’m not sure you will be able to help with my #1 problem. It is battling the pain and fatigue to get something coherent on the page. I suffer from fibromyalgia and it is sooo hard to follow a plot and layer in subtext when you are in too much pain to think straight. And unfortunately, most remedies either don’t work or make me even more sleepy! Other than trying to schedule my writing time for the “best” part of my day, I am at a loss. Suggestions welcome, especially from anyone else dealing with chronic pain.
Nicole – my daughter has fibro and my advice to you would be the same as what I tell her with regard to her schoolwork. Make use of your good days to get as much done as you can. Dictate everything that you can possibly get away with dictating, so that you don’t have the impact of keys on your fingertips. Plan ahead so that you know where you are going and what you need to do when the good times happen. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you have a bunch of bad days in a row. This is not a race nor a competition, so working at your own pace when you do feel good is perfectly acceptable.
Thanks, Joe. Happy to hear advice from someone who “gets it.” I think trying to capitalize on my good days is a good idea. I usually use those to catch up on housework. I struggle with dictation. But maybe I can get used to it. It’s worth trying.
My struggle is not with writing and editing–I put out a good product–my struggle is getting my books seen by the right people and read! What is the point if I can’t sell my books? (18 of them now)
I outlined and wrote my first short story (12 pages). As I was writing my story it became a different story then what I outlined. Original characters took a back seat to new characters and scenes. I like the finished product, but how do you stay true to your original story after you’ve spent so much time organizing it? it’s as if the muse has a mind of its own.
Okay, I usually take a month, four weeks, to write a 100,000-wd story. How? Simple. When a story comes to mind, the genre and the idea of the main characters, I first take a couple of days to look for the characters online. Pictures. Then, I write biographies–detailed ones. Next, I search for an area, a place to locate my story. I look at fun things to do in that place, schools. Sometimes I’ll use google world to stroll around the avenues. I catalog all this into Scrivener. Once this is done, I begin my story–not in the middle, but somewhere interesting, then the characters I’ve gotten to know do the rest. They literally write their own story. Wish I could type faster, but I can only do 100 words a minute on my Mac. So, there you have it. I do one chapter in the morning, approx 3,000 words, and then I submit it to a Grammarly test, then the next morning, go on to the next one. Of course, I reread often to make sure all the hooks and story scenarios line up. Hope this helps some of you. Have fun!
Thanks for the helpful seminar! My #1 struggle is balancing genre with my incorrigible need to turn things upside down as a storyteller. I’ve got 12 books out–6 with a small press (don’t ask). Most are one-offs and two 2-book “series.” I just completed “My Year of Writing Paranormal Romance”–aka The Year of Futile Endeavor. I did finish 3 PNR books, abysmal sales (who knew that fans of The Bachelorette don’t read PNR with dragon shapeshifters? Also that PNR fans hate reality TV even with dragon shapeshifters?). This past year taught me that I don’t love PNR enough to write more. I do love Urban Fantasy and that’s what I’m plotting to jump into now, but I fear my series stamina may be lacking or scuttled by my uncontrollable need to smash stereotypes.
I’m primarily a nonfiction writer 14 books so far. I’ve written two fiction books. They had a plot and subplots. I took a college course which said to do the following: The following was not simple for me. I am outlining a book from the Oregon Files series. From that I hope to learn the techniques of fiction writing. That is my biggest hurdle not knowing what I need to know?
Open to suggestion(s) you may have.
Ronald – your message seems incomplete. The course said to do…what? It’s missing so I can’t offer any advice about it.
My biggest problem with writing my current book, 3rd in a series, is that I can’t imagine my main character in the role that I want to cast her into. I don’t know how to take her from a paid companion to the Lady of the Manor. Does this make sense?
Perfect. But try this. If you are having trouble with the transition, imagine how much trouble your character is having adapting to her new role! Make it part of the story. Put your struggle on the page. It’s worth a shot, at least.
Ok. great idea, I will try that.
Great information! It looks like finding time to write is a common problem. I’m in the same boat. I have one novel under my belt, but the second one is a slow process. I too have the full-time job so I write late in the night. Thank you for the seven-step process. I’m going to use it when I write the third book in the series. I think it will keep me more on task and focused.
Good for you, Tracy! Good luck!
좋은글 잘보았습니다 감사합니다 저가 한 말씀드리겠습니다 글을 쓸수만 있다면 얼마나 좋을까요 글이라는 것은 마음에 약식이죠 글도 좋은글 수많은 사람들을 감동시킬수있는 글을 쓴다면 구독자 분들이 얼마나 희망이 되고 위로가 되고 용기가 될까요? 좋은글 소설 혹은 누군가를 비판하는 글을 쓰는 저자들도 참으로 많치요 즉 누군가를 감동을 주고 용기를 J.F.Lover 처럼 사랑도 주고 그런 멋진 한권에 책? 편안한 마음에 어느정도에 환경이 주어진 다면 글좀 아는 사람 글좀 써본 사람이라면 좋은글 은 얼마든지 나오죠? 즉 쉽게말하자면 글도 머리를 굴일줄 알아야하죠 저는 한국에서 어려서 부터 글쓰는것을 좋아 했어요 글짓기 대회 독후감 대회 시를 젂는것 또 내가 던진 편지한장으로 운명이 바뀐 여자 혹은 남자 마음이 어느정도 안정되고 화려하지도 않고 멋지지 않아도 소박하더라도 어느정도 환경이 주어진다면 또 마음에 안정된다면 얼마나 글쓰기가 좋을까요 그리고 배고플때 쓰는글 배부를 때 쓰는글 차이가있죠? 누군가를 사랑하고 여러사람을 사랑한다는 것은내 자신을 사랑하지 않는 다면 불가능하죠 매일 하루 하루가 안자있는 것이 갓이 방석이고 심적으로 불안하고 초조하고 불면증에 시달리고 하루에 한끼 먹는것도 힘든 상황이오고 한번도 가본적 없는 지은 죄 조차없는 미국을 사랑해서 내가 가장 존경하는 God father 도널드 트럼프 대통령님을 선택하무로 나에게는 유일한 피부치 나에 분신과도 같았던 내 아들 내 딸 그리고 내가 10년동안 다른 여자와 잠짜리 한번 한적없고 나하나 만을 믿고 대학교 2학년 학업을 중단하고 9살이나 어린 내가 사랑했던 내 와이프 cannabis 사업할생각 하면 나를 떠나겠다고 하던 와이프 한국에 계신 부모님은 나한테 미치놈 이라고 하시고 연락두절되어 버리고 5월13일 내가 미정부 소속이 되던날 부터 나는 가지고 있던 모든것 빼앗겼고 그 이후로 지금 까지 내가족 얼굴은 한번도 보지못했다 아들 생일은 7월30일 딸 생일은 10월2일 나 하나 믿고 영어한마디 못하는 애들 와이프 미국이 좋아서 아메리칸 드림을 꿈꾸며 2016년 5월23일 인천 공항에 미국행 비행기에 몸을실고 이륙했다 그리고 2017년5월13일 이후 나에게 말한마디 남기지 않은체 떠나같다 그리고 아빠로서 애들 생일 선물하나 못해준게 마음이 아파 어제 딸아이 얼굴이 아른 거려 힘든 3일도안 거의 못먹고 못자고 걸어서 땀을 뻘뻘흘리며 학교앞에서 1시간이 넘게 서서 학교 종이 3시5분에 땡하고 치는데 4시까지 기달려도 딸아이 얼굴은 나타나지 않아서 오피스에 들어가 물어보자 나한테 항상 친절하게 이야기 해주던 학교관계자 분들은 나에게 아무런 정보를 줄수없다고 그렇게 말을했다 그런데 알아낸 결과로 애들은 다른곳으로 학교를 옮겼던것 한국에서 내가 오기전만 해도 내 몸무게는95킬로 였는데 너무 못자고 못먹서 지금은 와이프가 입던 반바지가 지금은 내가 팬티로 입는다 그래도 내바지는 흘러낼려 조금걷다가 올리고 올리고 지금 아지도 여기 스타벅스 에서 아침8시 부터 앉아있는데 좀금있으면 저녁 7시에들간다 여기 사람들은 모두 커피를 마시고 있는데 나는 물만 계속해서 마시고 있다 지금 졸리고 배가너무 고프다 그리고 자꾸 코피가 난다 어제 밤에도 잘곳이 업어 스타벅스 밖에 아침 5시까지 컴퓨터하고 지금 핸드폰이 없어 아이패드 설정도 못하고있고 아침에 너무추워서 쫏겨난 아파트에 들어가 코인 란쥬리 에서 아침 7시에 나왔다 거기역시 추웠다 오늘밤이 또 문제다 셰르프 디퍼트먼트 에서 들이닥쳤을때 총을 겨누며 5분시간 주니까 빨리챙겨 나가라고 계속 소리치는 바람에 거의 못챙겨서 나왔다 반팔을 입고있어 새벽에는 너무추워서 덜덜떨다가 감기가 걸려 지금은 콧물이 줄줄 저는 현재 하루하루 너무힘들어요 여러분 해답을 주신다면 저가 지금 할수있는 일이 과연 무엇이라 생각하시나요? 이상입니다. 감사합니다 J.F.Love💕
Johnny, I translated your comment. Your story is in your comment. A good story has conflict and your comment has a lot of that. If you follow Joe’s structure and build a character around those motivations and conflicts, you would have a great story. It could be therapeutic for you, too. A family in Korea, love for America, never seeing your loved ones, suffering from depression, going hungry–great stuff for a story. We are all suffering from something. I wish you the best.
Hey! I’ve had an interesting life as a popstar and my biggest struggle today is that if I write a book about my adventures and also my bandmembers, show pictures of us etc, do I have to ask them a permission before my autobiographical book release and pay them royalties or not?
Please let me know what do you recommend. Thank you!
With best wishes, Karen
I would like to know the answer to Karen’s question, too. My brother worked for the Fire Department near Miami. He has a ton of amazing stories as the head of a rescue team. The only reason he isn’t writing a book is his concern about “telling tales.”
If you are writing about true events that you experienced, no, you do not need permission to include those that were there. Nor do you need to pay them royalties.
You might bear in mind that you can be sued as a result if the information is detrimental to any of those present.
My premise is inspired by an old movie. I want to steer clear of copyright issues. 2 questions: should I use completely new character names and traits or can I twist the names into something a fan of the original might recognize? And if I loosely follow the original plot setup how much do I need to do differently to avoid mine being a rip off? Thanks
Making it resemble the original is a recipe for disaster, Kelly. Steer clear and come up with your own project.
Following on from the Amazing webinar I did have one question – with regards to the three game changing moments in the 7 phase structure, are they always contained into a single scene or can they span several scenes.
Jon – they usually are, but if you can pull it off across multiple scenes without disrupting the flow of the story, there isn’t any rule against it.
Joe, are you limiting the number of spaces for the advanced option of the story engines course?
At the moment, no, Charlotte.
My #1 problem is age. I feel the pressure of the time constraint. I spent more money than I made on the first book which I can at least say is published, but it took me a year and $1,000 to edit, promote and design. I’m writing my second one now. This article is a HUGE help. I want to believe that I can pop out books within months, not years and that they will sell.
Joe, Thoroughly enjoyed the presentation today. (10/14/17) Thanks! Would you mind telling us again your great advice concerning not scrapping one’s first draft and finding the phases in the draft…( I wrote notes as fast as I could while you were speaking… But didn’t get it all. ) Loved your encouragement and tenacity of holding on to that messy first draft! Thank you sooooooo much!
Of course, Ess – I would break the work down into chunks based on the 7 story elements. Go through each section with an eye to being sure it meets the goals of that section. So the setup phase should introduce the character, the setting, the story problem and possibly foreshadow the opposition. Knock that chunk into shape and then move to the next part, game changing moment #1, etc
Darn, I missed it. I need to be better at double checking the time zone….EDT is not me….so I’ll hope you offer another chance at this webinar, I’m sure it was great for all of you who are better at time conversions!!
Nick AND Joe, This is a definite for me BUT only after the other 3 courses (each differently specific) I already own and am working through. I’ll catch you guys next time around. Thanks for the great information (and entertainment). Deb
The webinar was great! Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay until the end so I don’t know if this question was answered, but I’d like to know how to use 7 steps for a series. I mean, I’d say every book that’s part of the same series needs something like an introduction phase or a conclusion phase, but the approach is somehow different, especially when the story ends on a cliffhanger. So what’s the best way to use this concept for series? thx in advance 🙂 elodie
My number one problem with breaking my writing flow is research. Whenever I stop to research something, it could be twenty minutes or five hours. Obviously, after hours of research, I’m pretty burnt out. So, I have decided to jot down a note in the story whenever I come to a point where I will need to investigate the details of a setting or the science of how a particular thing works. Write the story then fill in the gaps later. I do write consistently, but I am challenging myself to write at six in the morning every day for the next thirty days and see how that goes.
Hi, loved the seminar today -Thank you! Still a bit mystified by the definition of “scenes”. I’ve looked “scene” up, but I get even more confused. Really want it from a Story Engines perspective so I know we are talking about the same thing. Joe, you said you would typically use 40 scenes and each scene is a chapter, but Nick said someone like Dan Brown might have several scenes in one chapter. I don’t think I am grasping…a “scene”. Is it pretty typical to have one scene be a chapter? How long are your chapters typically? Thank you! I got a great deal of knowledge from today’s presentation! Loved the template for the Premise! Thanks for investing in us! Hope the reno goes smoothly! :)))
Ess – A scene is a single unit of action. Your characters come on the “stage” of the story at a specific time and place and one action occurs. The minutes you change the location, the time, or the point of view, you have changed to a new scene.
Some novels have multiple scenes per chapter. Some have a single scene per chapter. (I prefer the later, but that’s just a personal preference. Either way is correct.)
Thanks Joe!!! Have gleaned a lot of info from reading your answers to these questions. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions as well learning from all the other answers to everyone’s questions!
I have never written fiction (I’m a published nonfiction author) but writing a novel has been a dream of late. However, I’m a bit hesitant about enrolling on the SE course as I’m not fully convinced it’ll take a newbie like me from blank page to a bestselling novel in 60 days. Do you really think I could pull this off? I’ll wait for your reply before I decide to enroll/not enroll. Thank you, Noel Gama 🇮🇳
Hi Nick and Joe, Really sorry I couldn’t make the webinar – didn’t check email till too late!!! Just wondered if there was a replay recording by any chance???? Thanks for all you do, Mark
I’m not sure exactly how to word this question correctly, so…here goes. Let’s say your prologue or your first chapter is a scene that throws the reader into the hero’s chaos, right from the get-go. That’s the hook (and yes, I’m biased, but it’s a great hook!) But that scene is actually the reflection of a game changer for the hero…technically. So in a way, it’s like the reader’s coming in a little late to the story and it’s intriguing as all heck, but now I’ve got to catch the reader up so they’re invested and not lost. Right? Okay, so… in this scenario, where you’re starting off with a moment where the hero’s like “what the heck just happened…now what?”… in order to make the novel work as a whole, I would basically need to set up the rest of the story to start off with the preparation phase (which is going to give the reader some of the backstory they need to become invested) and then introduce a NEW catalyst/gamechanger, moving into that 7 piece story structure in order to take the reader through the whole deal? Correct?
Or… is this why my story is falling apart in the “muddy middle”? Unfortunately, the action scene is best served as a prologue, because of the nature of the story, but I’ll admit it is making it hard to build up the rest to support such a pivotal beginning for my hero!
Nick, I received your email where you said, “If you weren’t able to come live, or if you didn’t get your questions answered, please leave a comment on the blog right here and we’ll get back to you ASAP.” I really wanted to be present for it but was unable. If I just look at the slides will I get the main information from the webinar? Is there some kind of accountability group that you guys are offering for the NaNoWriMo?
I wanted to sign up for the Story Engines course and I’m getting a Kaspersky web page warning of “Phising” on all of the order links. Please advise, Is there another cleaner / safer link to order on for full payment? Thank you,
Frank – If you haven’t solved the issue yet, you can email [email protected] and they should be able to help you out.
Scheissen Hausen! Wish I’d read this before shelling out a shed load of money on ‘the holy grail’!
I’m new to writing, after spending 30+ years writing…yes, that’s what I mean. I wrote professional reports – often epics – for use in a whole host of different legal proceedings. Each was was basically the story of someone’s life; their strengths and weaknesses; their opportunities and struggles; their why’s, wherefore’s and what ifs. The reports all followed the same structure; had the same issues addressed to some greater or lesser degree; and their conclusions drawn. I’d throw in a bit of psychologising about the person’s specific story and add a dose of opinion (seeing as that was what I was being paid for!) Average length of report 8-10k; 6 reports per month – and a day job too.
Now I’m an aspiring writer – nothing creative…I write people’s stories. They’re narratives, with a structure that’s easy to follow – decades in their lives; the highs and lows; what they learnt and what they regret…and why; where they think they’re going in the future; what they want the reader to take away..their reflections on their life story. 4 ‘on the go’; 2k words per day on any 2 of the books; keep them snappy and get them done ASAP.
I’ve been hunting for the formula for creative writing. Bought the books; listened to the webinars; even bought into the online training packages. I don’t need telling how to write – big headed I may be, but I know I can write and write well. I never do more than an initial draft – that’s the book completed. I have a bunch of avid reader friends who ‘edit’ as I’m going along – usually we’d like to know more about…so I shove in another paragraph or so as required, but nothing else gets changed. All the ‘how to courses and books etc’ are full of the stuff I neither need or want.
What I’ve learnt from your article, is that I already have the formula. Ok, it may require a bit of tweaking, but nonetheless I already have it. Thank you so much, your help has really been appreciated. Now I’m free to pursue the real challenge – how to get these scripts published, marketed and sold!
All suggestions gratefully received 😬
Current titles A Streetkid Called Steven: the rise of an abandoned toddler to CEO of a charity. Toward Rainbow Bridge : a life cruelly cut short. Living with spirit : why out of 10,000+ did it have to be me? Angels in disguise : the stories of the streetkids of Uganda
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Joe, this is a wonderful article and extremely helpful. I created for myself an infographic of the seven specific steps and hung it up on the wall, along with the 7 Stages of any Great Story. I can read, but then it flies outta my head, never to be seen again! Thank you for going into so much detail and giving us a concrete plan to follow!
I’ve been following that structure for a few years (I didn’t know about the cards stuff though, I’ll try that out next time) and it works great. My number 1 problem is lack of inspiration, when no word comes out no matter how hard I concentrate. It happens rarely, though. I write about 1500 daily words, sometimes more, sometimes less, rarely none. If you’ve got a solution for lack of inspiration I’m interested xD
I absolutely love to write; I write, everyday!!! However, I believe my problem is that I am an “A” personality, a perfectionist, and I would never insult my readers with an unprepared, half thought out storyline which screams bordem not to mention laidened with spelling and gramatical errors which I’ve seen on bookshelves, in the past. So, though I brainstorm well, I second guess myself alot editing each paragraph while I am typing. Ugh!!!
Also, I get destracted easily when life gets in the way of “my passion” which makes my agitated, anxious, and annoyed at the intrusion. At that point, I tend to stop, because I feel like I am disrespecting my writing by not being totally present. I am looking forward to some great pointers on how to focus more clearly in order to stay on task.
I’ve been working on my book for 6 years and have stopped sharing my heart/dream with others who are less than supportive!!!
I registered for the webinar before I knew what time it was. I am in church during that hour, so guess I will miss it as my faith is more important to me than my writing. You are not recording it, I guess, so I’m just out of luck. Maybe the next time you hold this, please don’t do it on Sunday. Thanks.
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I highly recommend the book “Pen the Sword: the universal plot skeleton of every story ever told’ by Adron J. Smitley. Got it free with kindle unlimited. Walks you through the entire process of plotting your novel.
I love the seven step process and the idea of writing scenes (I normally come up with several but when I don’t write them down, they get lost in the other traffic in my brain. I have idea bunnies I can pull out for stories, but with the process, I can see how they may make a novel or are only a short story. I usually phrase it is the old what if question and then see where it can go. This is going to help with getting the fantasy novel I want to write off the ground. I have the 1st GCM and the 3rd. I still need the GCM 2. Multiple scenes are already in my brain and a few on paper.
Thanks for the roadmap and how to make the story easier to put together.
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I am a pastor and basically write more of Christian books that Bible-based and not novels. How do I fit in? Can I also apply your technics? Thanks and blessings!
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Thanks for this article I have been looking for something like this for a while. I am an aspiring novelist and the hardest part for me is continuing the story. I will start enthusiastically with a great idea and it will go downhill from there. I lose interest and make excuses to not write. This is an ongoing cycle. ny suggestions?
I haven’t created enough tension/stake in my premise. So my story is more like milk toast than jambalaya! Thank you for the excellent instructions. I’ll be shaking it up.
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This was extremely useful. It’s obvious that a lot of thought and effort went into this article, especially explaining the details of what each section or step is for. My #1 struggle is figuring out the details of how my characters will solve their conflicts. Thank you very much! I’m off to start my first ghostwriting gig.
I am happy to read this post. really nice and worthy. Keep posting. I will be there at Lifevantage, 9785 s monroe st #400, sandy, ut 84070
Awesome overview and game plan for NaNoWriMo–thanks! I’ve participated somewhat in the past, but never completed the whole 30 days. I just learned of the event occurring this month (July 2022), and so far I’m 2 for 2 on writing nights. I’ve been writing a novel off and on for years, and I hope to nail things down some this NaNoWriMo … and maybe again in November if necessary. Thanks again.
I’m a good PANTSER struggling to figure out how to drive the novel to an end until now. I’m going to be far better than i ever was… Thank you Nick Stephenson
Tribe Topper is an Ed Tech Platform focusing on providing quality educational content for Cambridge Assessment International Examinations (CAIE) A/AS Level, Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) Extended & Core and International Bachelorette (IB) board (DP & MYP) high school students specializing in Physics, Chemistry Math, Biology and Economics.
Thanks for the preview of the Seven Steps. Even though there’s an “I knew that!” in my mind.
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How To Write A Book In 30 Days: Finish Your Book Fast!
Writing is a daunting task for many people, especially when it’s a book, but for those who love to write , the small rewards and huge achievements are endless. Writing a book can have numerous benefits for your life. You can read more about that in my article on why you should write a book. The question is, how do you write a book in 30 days? If you want to know the top tips on how to write a book in 30 days, continue reading.
Table of Contents
Nine tips for writing a book in 30 days
Writing a book is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you will ever do. However, sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s worth doing . You will learn more about yourself and the world than you ever thought possible. Here are nine tips to help you write your book in 30 days.
1. Do your research
Do your research before you start writing. Even if you’re not writing non-fiction, it’s important to know the subject you are writing about. This is especially true when it comes to science fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy.
You don’t want the story to be unbelievable because of a silly mistake in the details. You can also use your research as a starting point for your story or a springboard for ideas.
Just be sure that your research doesn’t take over the story or become more important than the main characters and their actions. One way to avoid this is by writing in chronological order. It will keep you focused on what’s happening in your story rather than getting caught up in background details and research.
2. Make an outline
There’s no way to write a book without first having the book to write. That’s where outlining comes in. The outline is your blueprint, the skeleton of your story on which you hang all the meat and muscle. It’s what gives you direction. You’ll know where you’re going, how to get there, and when it’s all over what you’ve accomplished.
An outline is also an excellent tool for avoiding writer’s block. Once you’ve got your main subject clearly defined, the next step is to brainstorm everything that you can possibly think of that has something to do with that subject.
It can include interesting facts and trivia, stories, and anecdotes. You can also include personal experiences, character names and dates and locations, and information from books or research on the internet.
Anything that might be relevant should be written down. This will give you lots of material to work with when it comes time actually to write your book. Once you have your list in front of you, start organizing it into chapters or sections so that all of your related information is grouped. Determine which pieces are essential, which are nice but not necessary, and which are unnecessary.
3. Create a writing schedule
Writing a book in 30 days is an exciting challenge. It’s not just about the finished product but the writing process itself. It’s important to keep that excitement going throughout the month so you don’t burn out midway and lose motivation . The best way to do that is to create a creative writing schedule.
You need to fit your writing goals into your writing daily routine, and that means setting aside time for it day-to-day. Even if it’s just a five-minute slot between cooking dinner and walking the dog, that consistent space in your day will help you stay on track.
On top of making sure you have time every day to write, remember that you also need to schedule breaks into your day. A consistent schedule is good, but it doesn’t mean you should go nonstop. If you give yourself 15 minutes off every hour or half hour after two hours of work, you can avoid writer’s block when you sit down again.
4. Set word count goals
It’s never too early to start thinking about word count. Whether you’re trying to write a novel, a nonfiction book, or a short story, you can set daily word count goals to help you achieve your project’s overall goal. There are many ways to do this. You might aim to write just 250 words in one sitting or go for 1,000.
The important thing is that the number you choose is reasonable for the time frame and quality of work that you want. A good rule of thumb for beginners writing a first draft novel is to aim for 1,000 words per day. This is low enough that it should be achievable even on days when you’re not feeling particularly motivated. However, it’s high enough that you’ll make significant progress toward your book without getting overwhelmed by the goal.
You can always start with this as your default word count goal and then increase it once you get into the swing of things and feel confident about your ability to keep up with the pace. It’s also helpful to set up a schedule. For example, if you know that you have free writing time in the early mornings and evenings every weekday but not on weekends. Try scheduling your writing session time so that most of the weekdays are dedicated to finishing your book.
5. Establish a sacred writing space
The best way to get yourself in the writing mindset is to create a dedicated writing space. To help you stay focused, all distractions should come from this space: no phone, no email, and no Facebook. If you have kids or roommates, make sure they know that you can’t be interrupted when you’re in your writing space.
If at all possible, choose a space with a door you can close. This helps to establish a physical boundary between the “writing” and “non-writing” parts of your life. It also gives you a physical cue to let your mind know it’s time to write. Finally, don’t forget to personalize your sacred writing space!
Hang up some inspirational photos or quotes. Put in comfy furniture and decorations that make you feel happy. Add in any other items that are important to you. Some people like candles or incense burning, while others prefer the sound of music playing softly in the background. Make this place unique for you so it will always be where ideas flow freely and easily!
6. Assemble your writing tools.
Having the proper tools on hand will help you avoid excuses when your inspiration starts to wane. First, make sure your computer that runs smoothly is free of viruses and has plenty of space to store your first novel in progress. If your computer screen has been acting up, there’s no better time than now to have it repaired. After all, you can’t afford any distractions while you’re trying to meet your deadline!
Next, review your writing software and make sure it’s up-to-date. While it’s not necessary to have the latest version of Microsoft Word or even specialized software for tens of thousands of writers, you should at least be using some word processing program that allows you to save files, format them into pages and chapters, and make changes if needed. You can also choose to use a writing app on your mobile device if that works better for you.
Thirdly, consider investing in online backup services like Google Drive or Dropbox. In the event that something happens to your computer and all of the files are lost (or worse), these services will allow you to retrieve them from another device so you won’t lose all your work.
7. Get the hard stuff out of the way first
If you’re going to write a novel in 30 days, it’s not the time to get into an argument with yourself about whether or not you can do it. The first step is to believe you can do it. You have to know that you can do it.
You should also allow yourself to temporarily buy into the story idea that you are a writer who writes because otherwise, maybe you wouldn’t really be committed to finishing the task on time. That being said, let’s get down to business.
Write the difficult parts of your book first. Those are the parts that give you pause. They’re the ones that make you shut your laptop and go watch TV or sleep for four hours instead of working on your novel.
They’re the things that make you stall and waffle and procrastinate because they keep coming up as “too hard.” The best way to silence these demons is to just sit down and write them out as quickly as possible—and then get them out of your way once and for all.
8. Know when to walk away and return to your desk
This can be difficult for some people who like to keep busy with other tasks at home or at their workplace. It’s important that you don’t take on too much during the writing process . If you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to do each day, this can make it hard for you to focus on your book.
It’s better to start small and build up from there than try and do everything at once. For example, if you’re trying not to get easily distracted while working on your novel, then set aside specific times of day when you’ll turn off all electronic devices and focus exclusively on writing without any other distractions.
Or perhaps waking up early might be better suited for creating new ideas before everyone else has woken up yet; whatever works best for you! If you’re in a coffee shop, grab another cup of coffee. Shake out your hands to release tension from typing too much or for too long. Do what you need to do to refresh yourself and return to your desk with an open mind.
9. Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself is crucial to sticking with any big, challenging project. What you choose to reward yourself with is up to you. Some people might stay motivated with a Starbucks run every time they hit a certain number of how many words, others might permit themselves to take one of their five or 10-minute breaks a little bit longer.
Whatever it is, the important thing is that you’ve decided ahead of time what that reward will be and that you’ve flagged it as something to look forward to. People are far more likely to stick with a project in the long term if they can see themselves making progress toward something they want.
7 challenges of writing a book in 30 days
The 30-Day Book Challenge is a fun and fast way to write a book, but it’s not for everyone. For some people, the time constraints might make it seem easy, but the reality is that writing a book from scratch in one month requires a lot of planning, time, and, most importantly, motivation . Here are the common challenges of writing a novel in 30 days.
1. Finding time
With a full-time day job, family responsibilities, and other commitments, finding time to write every day is a challenge. Some people find that they can write successfully during their lunch hour, while others set daily goals of writing before or after their day job.
Many people also find it helpful to write during the weekends. If your schedule is already full and you’re not sure how you’ll fit in the time, consider what you can cut out of your schedule.
For example, if you spend three hours watching television each day, you might be able to devote one of those hours to writing.
Another option is to get up an hour earlier each day to write. Set yourself up for success by planning ahead and setting aside blocks of time for writing. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, eventually, you’ll get where you want to go.
2. Creating a writing routine
It’s a common refrain among those who are trying to write a novel: “I’d love to start writing, but I can’t get into the habit of doing it.” There are a number of reasons why writing is difficult to turn into a regular activity.
But by taking small steps every day and using some simple resources available online, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to form good writing habits. Your book will be well on its way toward getting finished.
One of the biggest obstacles people face when they’re trying to get into the habit of writing is not having a specific plan ahead for what and when they’ll write. Ending your day by telling yourself that tomorrow you’ll work on your project just doesn’t cut it.
The best way to develop a consistent routine is to set aside specific blocks of time for writing each day and then stick to them. If you add those times to your daily calendar and set reminders, you have a better chance of staying on track.
3. Focusing on quality
You only have thirty days until you’re done writing your book. It’s tempting just to get how many words down and then finish writing without going back to edit or change anything. It’s even easier to make excuses for why you can’t go back and reread what you’ve written.
Unfortunately, if you don’t go back and read what you’ve written, you may end up with a book full of typos, grammatical errors, and even plot holes or loose ends that could have been fixed with a five-minute reread. The good news is that there are some things you can do to prevent yourself from making excuses and avoiding reading over your work.
For example, take advantage of online resources like Grammarly that will pick up any errors for you.
You can also set aside a specific amount of time every day for rereading what you wrote the previous day. If you make it a habit to read over your work before moving on to the next novel chapter, you’ll be less likely to be tempted by the urge to skip it altogether.
4. Telling a good story
The story is the most important part of any book and is what readers connect to. If you’re not telling a compelling story, you’re not going to get very far. The problem with having a short deadline is that you don’t have time to stew on your ideas or let them mature before they go on the page.
You might start with a great general idea and a solid main character, then rush ahead too quickly and lose sight of where you started. Or maybe you’ll spend too much time on the beginning of the book with the hopes of being able to write the ending without having it fully planned out—and then run into writer’s block.
Either way, you must have a solid plan for what your story is about and how it will play out before you start writing a novel. Creating an outline will help keep you on track and make sure you’re telling a pleasing story.
5. Organizing your thoughts
When faced with 30 days to write a novel, the biggest challenge is going to be organizing your thoughts and ideas. The key to writing a novel in 30 days is using organization techniques to create a logical flow throughout your book. As you are trying to get your thoughts on paper, they may seem jumbled or confusing.
It is important that you organize these thoughts so that the path you have chosen makes good sense when it comes time to begin writing. Many writers will use an outline or skeleton of their thoughts so that they can change them around as needed but still have a clear idea of where everything belongs in the book.
6. Overcoming self-doubt
There are a lot of self-doubts that come with writing a book in 30 days. You’ll doubt your ability to get it done. Your friends and family may doubt you, too. Even if you don’t tell anybody about your plan, you’ll still be waiting for someone to call you out on being crazy or unrealistic for trying something like this.
The best strategy is to ignore self-doubt and keep writing. The more doubts creep into your mind, the more you need to focus on just sitting down and getting words on the page. That’s how you write a book in 30 days!
7. Staying motivated
When you are writing a novel in 30 days, it is easy to get sidetracked by the other things that come up in daily life. It takes time to write a novel, and you need to be sure that you are going to give it the time it needs each day. Make sure that you have set aside the time to work on your book every day.
If you are having trouble staying motivated, think about why you wanted to write this book in the first place. What was your purpose for writing a novel? Who will be reading this book? Think about how spending just 30 minutes of your day on your book can make someone else’s life better.
Frequently asked questions
Here are the answers to some of your frequently asked questions about how to write a book in 30 days.
How long should your first book be?
There’s no magic number specifying how long or how short your first book should be. If you’re writing a children’s book , it may be only 32 pages—but that doesn’t mean that the story is any less challenging to write. On the other hand, if you’re writing a fantasy epic, it could be thousands of pages long.
But if you’re looking for a range of page numbers to aim for, here are some general guidelines based on genres.
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which began in 1999 as a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. Now it’s an international online community of writers that holds events and virtual meetups throughout the year. However, November is still the time when thousands of aspiring authors take part in the annual national novel writing month challenge.
Word count can be measured on the NaNoWriMo site, and you can track your progress against other writers. By the end of the writing month, many participants will have completed the first draft of their novels.
Should you become an author?
As a published author , you’ll have the ability to share your story with readers who will come away from it feeling inspired, moved, or possibly even changed. You might be surprised how many people out there will relate to your tale and find meaning in your words.
If you’re an avid reader yourself, you already know that books can function as a way to escape the day-to-day and take you somewhere else for a while—and writing those books can be just as gratifying as reading them.
A book is not a simple project. It’s an adventure, and it can take you on all kinds of unexpected paths. But by keeping the big picture in mind and taking a few steps to prepare yourself for the journey of writing a book, you’ll be ready for any surprises along the way.
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Everything we know about the upcoming 'Outlander' prequel series 'Blood of My Blood'
- "Outlander" may be ending with season 8, but fans can look forward to an upcoming prequel.
- "Outlander: Blood of my Blood" will center on Jamie's parents, Brian Fraser and Ellen MacKenzie.
- Below, all the details we know about the origin story.
At the start of this year, " Outlander " fans received some bad news and some good news.
Starz announced that the series had been renewed for an eighth and final season, putting a pin in their original plans to adapt all of Diana Gabaldon's novels (the last of which has still not yet been written ).
Although that will bring Jamie ( Sam Heughan ) and Claire's ( Caitríona Balfe ) time-traveling escapades to a close, audiences were delighted to learn that a prequel series continuing the story of the Fraser family was officially in production.
Speculation that Starz was expanding the "Outlander" universe began in 2020, when Deadline reported that the network bosses had encouraged producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis to "to plot a slew of spin-offs, sequels and story extensions."
Over two years later, fans got the news they had been waiting for when the prequel series was officially announced . Several months later, it was announced that the writers' room had started working on scripts and that the series had been given a name — "Outlander: Blood of my Blood."
While a release date for the series hasn't been set yet, and no casting announcements have been made, lots of other details about the series have been shared. Here's everything we know so far.
The series will center on Jamie Fraser's parents, Ellen MacKenzie and Brian Fraser.
These are two "Outlander" characters that audiences have never seen — although we've heard plenty about them over the years.
"'Blood of My Blood' is, at its heart, a love story," said Roberts, who will serve as showrunner and executive producer on the series. "It will explore what lengths a person will go to find love in a time when love is considered a luxury, and when marriages are made strategically, often for political or financial gain."
Fans of both the "Outlander" series and novels will understand exactly what Roberts means, as an abridged version of Ellen and Brian's love story was detailed in season one: the couple eloped together and stayed hidden until Ellen was visibly pregnant with their first child, forcing her family to accept their union.
Diana Gabaldon is involved as a consulting producer — and she's also writing a book about the characters, too.
The author has confirmed that, alongside writing what is expected to be the tenth and final novel in the "Outlander" series , she is also working on several other stories connected to Jamie and Claire, including a prequel novel about the same characters.
The book does not yet have a title, but Gabaldon told the audience at the 2022 Edinburgh International Book Festival that it includes romance and plenty of historical intrigue.
"The story is woven in with the Jacobite Risings – there will be a lot of clan politics and other interesting things," she said, per The Scotsman.
For those who are interested, she has shared several excerpts of the book with her Facebook audience.
As for how the show's producers are working with Gabaldon and her unfinished novel , executive producer Maril Davis told Insider in August: "We hope she will share as she goes, but we've kind of been taking the breadcrumbs she's left in her books and expanding on those to build a story."
Starz has already said the prequel will be 10 episodes, but it's not clear if that means it will be a limited series.
In a press release from January, Starz announced that "Outlander: Blood of My Blood" had been greenlit for a 10-episode season.
It hasn't been confirmed if that means the series will be a one-off, or whether viewers can expect more seasons after "Outlander: Blood of My Blood" airs. Representatives for Starz did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
The title is a nod to the vow Jamie made to Claire on their wedding day.
If you were wondering what "Blood of My Blood" means exactly, it's a phrase that "Outlander" fans know well, as it's part of the Gaelic blood vow Jamie and Claire exchanged on their wedding day.
'"Ye are blood of my blood, and bone of my bone, I give ye my body, that we two might be one. I give ye my spirit, 'til our life shall be done."
Since Gabaldon invented the vow herself, audiences could see Brian and Ellen exchange it during their marriage.
The series will likely be set sometime around 1716, some 30 years before the events of "Outlander."
That's when the Great Gathering at Castle Leoch happened — where Brian and Ellen met for the first time — according to the "Outlander" books.
That would make our heroine Ellen and her future husband Brian both 25 at the time the series begins, as they were both born in 1681, per details shared in "Dragonfly in Amber."
The series will feature some beloved characters from "Outlander."
However, because the prequel will be set nearly three decades before the events of the main series, don't expect any of the same actors to be playing the roles.
Some characters who could show up in the prequel include Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) and Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis), Jamie's uncles, as well as Jocasta MacKenzie (Maria Doyle Kennedy), his aunt.
It's likely that Murtagh Fitzgibbons (Duncan Lacroix) could also make an appearance, given the fact that it has been revealed in "Outlander" that he once held a flame for Ellen.
A younger version of Jamie Fraser may also appear.
In an interview with Esquire , Sam Heughan said that while he's definitely not in the show, there's a chance a younger version of his character could be.
"All I can tell you is I'm not in it, as Jamie's not in it," he said. "I believe that it's a prequel focusing on Jamie's parents when they were younger, so I guess you might see a young version of him at some point."
If the series does kick off around 1715 as we suspect, that's six years before Jamie's birth in 1721, meaning that audiences shouldn't expect him to come into the series straightaway. Brian and Ellen had two other children before he was born, after all.
Pre-production on "Outlander: Blood of My Blood" has been halted in light of the Hollywood strikes.
Davis told Insider in August that pre-production on the show had been put on a temporary hiatus in light of the Writer's Guild of America strike, which began in May of this year.
"It's devastating and I hope we all get back soon," she said. "We were in pre production on both season eight and the prequel, we were in the writer's rooms for both before it happened."