How I Wrote a Novel in Seven Weeks

Once in a while, it’s necessary to reflect upon the road already gone by in any journey. Today, I’m thinking about the journey of becoming a writer, and more specifically, a novelist.

Looking Back

I started writing novels in junior high, and continued into high school. It fell away for many years as I used my time studying in college and just plain being a single guy, then a married guy.

I began to get serious when I came into some extra cash after starting as an engineer at Philips Semiconductors in Sunnyvale. I used it to take the Long Ridge Writers Group correspondence course Breaking into Print.

Whether taking the course was worth the money, I can’t really say. I took an extra two years to complete the course, basically stopping while I was working on my masters degree. I did finally finish it, however.

On to Novels

Usually, I would start a novel, get thirty pages into it, then it would peter out and fizzle away into the depths of forgotten things. It took until 2004 before I got serious about writing a novel. I told myself I would finish it, no matter what. No matter how crappy, I would finish it.

And I did. And it was not great, but I proved to myself I could do it. I rewrote it from scratch a couple years later, greatly improving it, but I sat on it for many years.

After that, I began another novel, which sat incomplete for quite along time. That was due to a number of factors simultaneously adding stress to my life.


In 2009, I decided to embark upon NaNoWriMo for the first time. If you have not heard of that, it is a challenge to write a novel length work in a month. 50,000 words in 30 days, to be specific.

I had never written more than 1000 words in a day, and usually less. So, I was skeptical of my chances at success in NaNoWriMo, but I did it. That novel sat for two years at 53,000 words.

In August of 2011, I decided to finish both novels, and did it in about 2 months. See, NaNoWriMo taught me the value of butt-in-chair time. I finished one novel at 1000 words a day, then I upped it to 1500 for the other.

A Novel in Seven Weeks

When I started writing my fourth novel at the end of February 2012, it was a late start on the first of what I pledged to be four novels in a year. I had to move. I like the pace of NaNoWriMo, which is about 1667 words per day. I used 1500 again on this one, and I pounded it out in seven weeks, cover to cover.

Doubt has been replaced by confidence, and it’s amazing what a little confidence can do for your game. I plan to begin my fifth novel within the next week or two, and I am going to up my quota to 1750, making it faster than NaNoWriMo pace.

That’s how you do it. You ease yourself upward with every project. It’s necessary in this new publishing environment, where there are many unknowns. But an independent writer has the power, and producing work faster means it’s available faster, and it sells earlier. That’s the how and the why.

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