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How to write a book in a month

Are you a frazzled author nearing their deadline? Perhaps you dream of being an author but life keeps getting in the way of that first draft? Well, what if I told you that you could write an entire book in just one month?

Writing a book in a short space of time is something I’ve done a few times. I prefer it. I can’t handle writing over months and months, I lose my feel for the story. I like to throw myself into a project, keep it fresh in my head and keep telling the story until it is finished.

It used to be that I would do this because I preferred it, without too much organisation. It was only when I wrote my most recent release, Honeymoon For One, my twelfth book, that I stopped to consider the best way to write a book in a shot space of time – to actually plan to write a book in exactly one month. And I did it. And it was painless. I’ll never drag writing a book out over several months again.

So, how can you do this too? Read on to find out.

It helps if you have planned your story from start to finish

Some people like to plan their novels with great care and attention before they will write a single word. Others like to just start writing and see where they story takes them. Both of these methods are absolutely fine and will depend on personal preference, but if you want to write a book in one month, I would highly recommend planning. The reason why? If you know exactly where your book is going then you don’t need to pause to figure it out, potentially saddling yourself with a nasty case of writer’s block. What I like to do is take some Post-its and start writing down what happens in each chapter. Stick these anywhere you have the space and, as you plan your chapters, you can move them around, add new ones in, change the sequence of events. Having a full idea of the story before you start also means you can go into it with all the information, which is helpful for foreshadowing, etc.

You’re going to need to plan your time too

If you’re a writer working for a publisher, you’ll know roughly how long your novel needs to be. Say you’re aiming for an 80k first draft. If you are planning on writing a book in 31 days you’re going to need to write just over 2,500 words per day. You’ll know that, when you’re in the zone and enjoying what you are writing, 2,500 can come relatively quickly – sometimes in a couple of hours, which is perfect if that is the only time you can spare. The thing you need to keep in mind is that, you’re probably not going to want to write every single day – sometimes you can’t, sometimes you need a break, sometimes you have other plans, etc. This isn’t a problem, it just means that you need to redistribute those missing words over other days. What I tend to do it write for as long as I can each day that I can, hitting at least that 2,500 word target. Any extra words I write will earn me days off. When I wrote Honeymoon For One in one month, I actually had several days off by writing up to 7,000 some days, to earn myself time off on others. It all comes down to how you want to distribute the number of words you are wanting to write.

Make time and space to write

It doesn’t matter when or where you write your book. I’ve written on tour buses, in the bath on my phone, in notebooks in cafes, even while I’ve been having my hair highlighted. You will know when and where you can write, but it does help if you can set aside some time and some space without distractions. If you know you’ll be tempted by the TV, try to work outside your home. If you live with family or friends, try write in a private space so that you’re not distracted by them. Working from home, I know that the daytime hours are the most valuable to me because it is the only time I am alone. If I need a change of screenery, I’ll abandon my laptop in favour of writing on my phone in the bath. Mix up when and where you write, and see what works best for you.

Taking more breaks might help you get more done

It sounds counterproductive but taking regular breaks might help you to get more work done, faster. There’s a method where you work for 52 minutes before taking a 17 minute break – I find this really beneficial. During the 52 minutes you are working you can focus on your work and your work alone, then, during your 17 minute break, you completely take your mind off work. If you’re separating your working time with your ‘other’ time, you’ll be way more productive. Checking Twitter every few minutes is going to take you out of your work. You will become distracted and the time will slip away from you, which can be very frustrating. Designated breaks will give you the opportunity to relax, clear your head and get back to work with a real fire in you to crack on.

Be kind to yourself

Your mental and physical health is always going to be far more important that any book, whether you’re doing it for fun or you are a professional writer. This guide is to help you write a book in one month – but only if you want to. You can use all of the above information to help you write in two months, three months, etc. or just so you can be a more productive writer. Surround yourself with the things you will need to keep you going and happy at your desk. Get yourself a fancy water bottle or a motivational mug for your coffee. Listen to music, if you don’t find it a distraction. Tell a friend all about what you’re doing so they can support you – if they’re a writer too, you can word race where you both write at the same time and see who writes most words – a little competition can help sometimes. Most importantly you need to make sure you’re having fun. If you’re stuck with a tight deadline and have an editor breathing down your neck it’s going to suck the fun out of writing and make you hate your book. Do your best and talk to people so that they can support you. Being an author (especially full time) can be a lonely and isolating job. Take extra care not to isolate yourself, see people, chat to people on Twitter. There are so many people in the same boat who would love someone to chat to too.

I wrote Honeymoon For One in exactly 30 days following the above tips. Honeymoon For One is out now in all formats with Boldwood Books. If you have any questions of need any advice, feel free to contact me via this website.


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