Posted in General

Book in a Week

A couple of years back I heard passing mention of a unique writing challenge. The idea was simple: write an entire draft in a week.

At the time there was absolutely no way I could even conceive of taking on a challenge like that. I had neither the time nor the skills needed for it. Since I last heard about it, my situation has changed and as a result I’m back to take a look at it.

Although I found a few remnants of what looks to have once been an official backed site, I couldn’t find anything concrete when I went looking. The idea of the challenge still appealed though, which left me to figure things out on my own.

Based solely on plausibility, writing a book in a week is more than possible. If we pull in the NaNoWriMo standard of fifty-thousand words to a draft, that breaks down to seven thousand, one hundred and forty-three words daily. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? Not quite so much.

Looking again at NaNoWriMo’s forums and participants, there are forums for Overachievers—people who go well over the fifty-thousand goal in a single month. There’s also another challenge: MilWordy. That is, the challenge to write a million words in a single year. Asking around any writing community  and you’ll likely hear at least a few stories from someone who knows someone who wrote their rough draft in seven days or less.

So while writing an entire book in a week sounds incredibly difficult, it might be possible, given the right tools.

The first tool, clearly, is time. I don’t know it could be done around a forty-hour work week, plus family or school commitments. I did all of the following math based on my average typing speed of roughly fifty-five words per minute.

Reaching seven-thousand, one hundred and forty-three words would take roughly two and a quarter hours. It sounds impressive, but remember that’s fifty-five words per minute, for a hundred and thirty minutes without dropping speed or pausing for some reason. Since that’s not likely to happen, it’s rounded up to three hours daily. Times seven days, that’s a minimum of twenty-one hours.

If twenty-one hours sounds doable, the next thing is a solid plan, especially if there’s no possibility of taking a week off to focus solely on writing. While I’m a huge advocate for planning for bad days during NaNo, writing an entire book in a single week doesn’t leave room for zero days. If making seven thousand words a day isn’t an option, you’d need to figure out which days on chosen week you can frontload the words onto—and stick to it.

As far as plans go, the math breaks down nicely and makes it more than possible, which is where we take the hard-left turn out of math and into the biggest obstacle of writing, inside or outside of a challenge:

Inspiration and motivation.

I’ve noted a few times over a couple dozen different posts that I’m much more of a pantser or discovery writer. I prefer to write the story first and then make an outline once I start editing. That said, it’s not a challenge I want to try without an outline.

Not for the first attempt at least.

As it stands however, after a rough February and looking back over my project list, one of the projects I have on there is a major rewrite. A rewrite that does have an outline.

And this week, oddly enough, lined up to give me plenty of free time with relatively few outside obligations.

Since I’ve been wanting to try this particular challenge for a while and things have lined up so well, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. In the worst case scenario, I end up not having a complete draft at the end of the week (March 6th, if you’re wondering).

I’ll post an update on how things are going (or have gone) on Friday. In the mean time, I’m curious: would you ever try to write a book in a week?

Posted in Exercises

Exercise: Inserts

Characters are often the first thing a reader falls in love with. Building a detailed and dynamic character can be difficult. Thankfully, there’s plenty of ways to practice.

As an exercise: Pick someone you know in real-life. Describe them as the main character in a story. Think about how they act, walk, talk and any habits or quirks they have. You can also try writing them as a villain for an added challenge.

Then: Insert them into a short story. Try rewriting a fairy tale to feature them or even putting them in the place of a character in a show or book you enjoyed. How does the story change to accommodate them? How do they solve some of the conflicts of the story?