One of the more interesting aspects of my novel, The Legend of Waterhole Branch, was that I wrote the entire story, from start to finish, in ten days. It is 27 chapters and about 90,000 words spanning 392 pages. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that and imagine the people that do believe me question the quality of the writing immediately. Now, I won’t pretend that my book is an award winning best-seller waiting to happen, but the time-line is real, and I can explain how I did and the pros and cons of such an approach.
First off, let me qualify a few things. I am not professional writer. I do not make my living writing books, and The Legend of Waterhole Branch is my first novel. My day job, a finance consultant that helps people buy and sell companies, does require a lot of writing, but it is technical writing. It’s a lot of “X has historically done this, so we recommend Y” kind of stuff. It’s boring and stuffy, but it is writing none-the-less.
Secondly, the process of completing my novel took much longer than ten days. From first words on paper to online retailers took about seven months. My day job is quite time consuming, so finding the time and energy to write a story isn’t easy. That said, across five weekends (I only write on Saturday and Sunday), I was able to put all 90,000 words on paper. On my best day, I wrote 13,000 words in about fifteen hours.
Now, let me break down my process and what worked well and what nearly caused me to lose the novel.
The most important thing that enabled me to write so quickly was that I already had a lot of the story in my head. Long before I ever sat down to write, I brainstormed about the characters, the conflict, the scene, and the resolutions to each conflict. This was high level stuff. I envisioned what the characters looked like and what they were going to do in the story long before I wrote the story. This is where an outline would have been helpful. I took a few notes on my phone as ideas popped up, but I kept most of it my head. I would recommend jotting down the ideas as they come to you. Nothing is worse than driving down the road and thinking of a really exciting story line only to forget it later. Thankfully, this didn’t happen too much to me, but it easily could have.
When I finally decided to start writing, I would block off entire days. Personally, I don’t like writing a few hours at a time, though I think most writers would recommend this. I prefer to store plot and character development in my head, and then vomit it onto paper when my head couldn’t hold anymore. This allowed me to write upwards of twelve to fifteen hours every time I sat down to write The Legend of Waterhole Branch. I would get so excited and into the story, my fingers couldn’t type fast enough to keep up. I would get chills when action packed sequences unfolded and time would fly by. The down-side of this approach is that you get exhausted writing for twelve hours at a time and your story will suffer at the end of each session. I can still point to parts of my book where I remember being exhausted and I lose some of the interesting and complex aspects of my story.
Another way to lose a novel in ten days is that cranking out content for hours at a time will push you to write too much narrative and not enough dialogue. This is a critique that will haunt my story forever. Conversation and dialogue take much longer to think through and correctly put on paper. It slows the process. When I was rapidly writing about a suspenseful life or death stretch in my story, I would fall into the habit of telling the reader what was going on as opposed to letting the characters evolve the tory through dialogue.
Finally, the number one negative to rear its ugly head when speed writing is the horrific grammar and spelling that will undoubtedly fall out. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford three terrific editors to clean up my mistakes, but I recognize that not everyone can lean on outsourced help like that. I pushed through the first round of edits myself and it took me two twelve hour days to clean up the mistakes that totaled well over fifty a page. I paid a little more for the copyeditors to provide clean versions after the next two edits. This was worth its weight in gold.
In conclusion, I will continue to speed write my stories given my short windows of writing opportunities and the joy I get out of blasting through action packed content, but it comes at a cost. Though, all things in life require some sort of cost benefit analysis, and to me, writing a novel in ten days is worth the risk of losing it.
More information on Lucas’s book, please visit him online:
Official Website: http://www.lucasrwright.com
Twitter @LucasRWright – https://twitter.com/lucasrwright
Amazon – http://amzn.com/149694299X