The Secret Dreamworld of an Aspiring Author by Anna Bell - I Almost Wrote a Novel in 10 Days
I set out to write a novel in ten days, but I actually finished it in fourteen. Seventy thousand words in fourteen days. It usually takes me months to even smell the end of a first draft, so what’s the secret to doing it in half a month? Gather round and I’ll tell you...
Make the time. Now this bit is not rocket science, but in order to do something like this you have to clear everything from your schedule. I didn’t not see another human for two weeks, but I did ration what I did. I took four days off work and ended up with ten because of the jubilee. I don’t have kids. My husband was also working from home the whole time (including the weekends) so I copied his working patterns; when he logged onto his computer at 8am, so did I.
Make sure you’ve got a story with legs. It helps if you’ve planned the novel in advance - there is nothing worse then staring at the blank screen. The book I wrote had been screaming at me for months, and whilst I didn’t plan it all out completely, I knew the beginning and the end, and had a rough plan for the middle.
Set yourself targets. I wasn’t allowed to turn off my laptop until I’d written about 5,000 words a day. Often I did more like seven thousand. But if you break that down into me being at my computer for eight to ten hours a day that amount is achievable.
Get a dog. Not only did my dog provide me with cuddles, but he gave me a reason to leave the house three times a day. And on those walks I got over hurdles in my plot, worked out sub plots and had a much needed break away from the laptop.
Tell yourself it's just a draft. This was my best piece of advice. I told myself that it didn’t matter if I got stuck, I could just go onto the next bit. Instead of agonising over a scene, I wrote it as best I could and decided to edit it later. I also wrote forwards without letting myself go back to earlier parts of the book and doing any adding scenes or editing. Those changes would all come with the first edit.
Research later. I had done a little research before I started the book, but have more to do. Instead of fact checking slowing me down. I wrote as I thought it would happen, and aside from a few fact checks, big bits of research were left for the edit.
Have support. Being vocal about my attempt was the best thing I could have done. In moments when I didn’t want to type another word, I just thought about the lovely messages I’d had from Novelicious readers and those on twitter. I couldn’t let them down so I continued to type away!
So that’s how I wrote my novel in fourteen days. It will take a lot of work and research to transform it into a readable package, but at least now I’ve got a starting point for the dreaded edits!