Write your book in just a week!

One trend in what I suppose you could call the ‘creative writing industry’ at the moment is encouraging people to write books really quickly.

473px-Usain_Bolt_Olympics_CelebrationI’ve come across writing ‘experts’ who run courses and so on claiming they can teach you to crash out a whole novel in a month or even less. It’s the Usain Bolt approach to novel writing.

For the record – Song of the Sea God took me two years to write, from which I’m sure you can glean that I’m in no great rush to type ‘The End.’ To me that doesn’t seem an extraordinary amount of time. The other two books I have completed have taken a similar period. It takes roughly a year to complete a first draft then another to rewrite and polish it until I believe I have something I wish to inflict on an indifferent world. After I have finished, I submit it to agents and publishers who will often reject it with barely a second glance. My story is not unusual, I suspect it is the story of pretty much any published author.

One ‘writing expert’ I came across on Facebook recently suggested that anyone following her sage advice would be in a position to churn out their magnum opus and stick it up on Kindle to tempt punters in just four short weeks. She strongly suggested I come along to one of her courses where she would teach me how to write more quickly. I suggested that perhaps I could teach her how to write more slowly. She didn’t seem any more impressed by my offer than I had been by hers. We were coming at it from two entirely different perspectives – she simply couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to hammer something out as swiftly as possible and get it on Amazon.

600px-UK_traffic_sign_670V30_svgHere’s where I stand. What’s the point of encouraging people to rush their writing? What’s the value of turning out a novel in a month when you could spend more time on it and make it better? Why not treat yourself to a whole two months of writing – and make it a masterpiece!

I don’t wish to sound too grumpy about this. I’m on the side of the writer. But I’m also on the side of the reader and I don’t know that encouraging people to slam out words onto their laptop as quick as they humanly can, then rush to self-publish them as a download in the hope people will hand over money for them is really serving the reader at all well. In fact I think there is a serious likelihood that the reader will pay for something rushed, shoddily put together, ill-considered and just plain rubbish.

The most famous ‘write a novel quickly’ movement is the very popular NaNoWriMo – the National Novel Writing Month, which encourages entrants to complete the first draft of a novel in a month.  Its website says that so far 226,756 writers have signed up to write a novel in just one month.

The strapline this group uses is ‘The world needs your novel’ which makes me think: does it? Does it really? The world has lots of novels already, many of them took a long time and a lot of hard work to write. Does it need hundreds of thousands more written in just one month?

Look, I don’t want to seem down on the organisation – they are very popular, they are encouraging people to write, which is great. They are also not necessarily encouraging people to rush what they have written to publication – for many writers what they produce during NaNoWriMo can be the start of a book, not the finished product.

My problem is with the notion that quicker is better. What is the value of rushing your work? My fear is that the ‘experts’ who tell you they can help you get your book in front of buyers in just a few weeks are appealing to some of the less savoury aspects of human nature.

The subtext of the ‘write a novel in a month’ message is – it doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to work very hard for a very long time, pore over your manuscript, carry out rewrite after painstaking rewrite. You can get everything you want without putting yourself to very much trouble at all – just like winning the lottery. Four weeks of writing, upload your work to Amazon and you will be a published author – just like Charles Dickens, just like Jane Austen!

For me writing a novel and getting it published was a long hard road and, you know what, I’m glad it was, because it makes the achievement worthwhile.

Novel in a month? Not for me thanks!

What do you think? Tell me in the comments.

Song of the Sea God visualDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

127 thoughts on “Write your book in just a week!”

  1. I totally agree, Chris. I’m actually doing NaNoWriMo this year, but only as a way of encouraging myself to apply bum to seat and write every day. I have no intention of inflicting a piece of hastily produced, ill-thought-out writing on the world!

    There’s one central piece of NaNo advice that I’m choosing to ignore – the one about never editing as you write. I tried that for about two hours yesterday morning and found it unbearable. Part of the pleasure of writing, for me, lies in taking the time to consider the best possible way of expressing a thought, in choosing the right word and considering the most appropriate structure. The prospect of spewing out thousands of pointless words onto the page holds about as much appeal to me as a £5 all-you-can-eat buffet. The pleasure can’t be in the quantity!

    Thanks, as usual, for your well considered words.

    1. Thank you – I was quite conscious of not wanting this to be an attack on NaNoWriMo because I know lots of good writers take part and enjoy it. I just don’t like the idea that something can be dashed off that quickly and then published – it’s a book not a blog post. As for writing – I think it’s a personal thing, I do get a whole first draft done and then edit it – but I also do some revision along the way too.

    2. I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year for similar reasons. I can’t handle the don’t edit rule as well. Sometimes, I need to go back to refine a character or strengthen a detail that will become important in the plot later. I think it is important to go back and read and know what you have. Why just produce 50,000 words, when you can produce the beginning core of a great story – and most of it you can keep.

      1. Agreed! The real problems I have are the idea that writing quickly is in itself desirable (it isn’t – all that matters is to write well) and the fact that some people bung their rushed first drafts onto Amazon where readers are asked to pay money for them.

  2. Interesting isn’t it, Chris? I wouldn’t even attempt to write a novel in a month. Quite apart from the day job which prevents me devoting all my energies to writing for myself anyway, my stories (when I write a novel) take time to develop in my mind, so even the first draft can take me a very long time (the last one was nearly two years in the first draft stage!). I simply couldn’t do it and come up with something plausible unless I’d thought about it and planned it for months in advance. That said, I suppose that if you have the time, and you work on the basis of ‘don’t get it right, get it written’, then it can galvanise writers into getting that first draft on paper, screen or whatever. But I agree it should never be considered the end product. I’ve read enough results of not just the ‘get it written and be done with it’ approach, but also ‘be done with it and get it on Kindle’ idea too. I’ve only written two novels (my memoirs obviously don’t count in this discussion), and they both took a very long time before I was satisfied. Whether the readers are too is another matter, but at least I know I’ve given them my absolute best and not just four weeks or a month.

    1. That’s true val – I think you have to write to please yourself first and only be satisfied when you haven given your best – I don’t see how a hurriedly prepared first draft can be anyone’s best.

  3. I’ve had a love-hate sort of relationship with NaNo for years, ever since the story I started in 2008 and am still actively working on. The idea of getting a full-length, finished novel ready to publish in a month, with no editing needed, is just as you describe, and it gives everyone involved the wrong idea. The real value of NaNo is the idea of getting at least a really good start on a first draft by setting aside a monthlong event as an excuse to really focus and give yourself time to write. Especially for those who are still avocational writers, saying “Hey, I’m doing this writing marathon thing this month” IS really useful. It’s really easy to have an idea and never get around to it, and the jumpstart that NaNo offers is amazing. Do you think it might be less offensive without the “publish a finished product ASAP” mentality and more emphasis on the idea of a first draft?

    1. Yes you are right- my main objection is to the get published quick people rather than the encouraging you to write crowd. Having said which – why the rush to finish a first draft anyway? Take your time, get it how you want it. If you do a little each day you will get there, like building a house a brick at a time. Why is quicker better?

      1. Quicker isn’t inherently better; you’re completely right about that. I think the appeal is external pressure, for some folks. It’s distressingly easy to tell myself that I’ll finish my story tomorrow, or once things settle down. An event like NaNo creates an admittedly false but psychologically effective sense of urgency that makea it easier to say, “No, I’m going to make time for this today.” It’s usefulness relies on one being self-aware about that and not getting caught up in the quick-is-everything hype, granted.

      2. You are right that we do need to put pressure on ourselves to do the work – and for much longer than a month. I’m busy, as we all are, with a job and kids, but I’ve always seen writing as another important part of my life – one which gets its hour at the end of the day. I think that dedication for the long haul is what a writer needs – it’s a marathon not a sprint! (Bet it’s not the last time I say that today).

  4. Hello Chris,
    Excellent blog. Each writer has their own way of working but I certainly agree that writing a novel in record time isn’t necessarily a winning formula. For me – I’m drafting my debut novel – I write by instinct. Usually, I write plays and find that I can write more fluently for theatre in short bursts of time without stopping to edit. Perhaps the dramatic voice is more conducive to being written unmediated – there are no speech tags or pesky descriptive passages to create! Also, when I look at a short story, from a while ago, I’m relieved that I didn’t sent it off. In other words, a bit of distance/time away is sometimes necessary to see the glaringly obvious plot gap or over-written section.

    1. I’m not against writing first and editing later – I do a first draft which tends to take me about 12 months, then edit – it gives me some distance from the text. I also agree with you about hanging on to things and taking another look. Alexander Pope said: “Keep your piece ten years” though that might be a little excessive!

  5. Hi Chris,
    Another great blog idea I must say, that ties in well with the other topics you’ve covered lately. I would think it’s physically impossible to write a full-length novel in a month without ending up with a repetitive strain injury, and producing something of worth. If only!! The idea is comical, and part of you almost wants to try it out to see if it’s feasible, but the underlying message is darker and confirms the belief already expressed in your blog discussions that the written word is losing its value. As journos, we’ve both seen this happen in our industry with citizens’ journalism etc and the idea that anyone can write general newspaper/magazine stories without the training. While I think it’s a great, and a fair, thing that anyone can now have a go at creative writing and see their work in print if it’s good enough, this ‘novel in a hurry’ trend is a sad indication that great literature at least may be heading for Jurassic Park. Could Bleak House or Pride and Prejudice have been written in a month?

      1. I think you are quite right Marjory. I applaud the way the internet has made writing more open to all – it reminds me of punk rock back in the day when suddenly anyone felt empowered to pick up a guitar and have a go. But there’s no getting around the fact that the craft of writing, like any craft, repays hard work and dedication. There’s no easy route, nor should there be!

  6. This is an excellent post! A challenge while writing is appealing to me. I participate in NanoWrimo for fun. But I carry no false hope that a book written quickly will be worthy of publication or even any good at all. Without time for careful consideration of all things that go into writing a good novel, one that readers will enjoy, how can it be? Slow and steady wins the race.

    1. Thanks Vaan – I know lots of good writers do take part in NaNoWriMo – that’s why I was careful in the comments I made about it. There’s all sorts of good reasons for taking part I’m sure – it could kick-start your creativity, you get a sense of community etc, etc. My real problem is with the idea you can churn out a finished novel that quick and it will be worth people’s while to read. You and I both know that’s not true. Writing is a marathon not a sprint. Usain Bolt isn’t the Olympian writers should aspire to be – we should be trying to be Mo Farah!

  7. Hi Chris.

    Totally agree. I spent nearly a decade getting my first novel to submission stage. Unless you are a genius you cannot write something good that fast. However, I have decided to Nanowrimo this year, just because it will get me going. I doubt I’ll make it to 50K, but I might get to 20K and for me that’s worth doing. I tend to splurge everything on a page and then edit, the style of it does suit me, but I don’t believe what I’ll have by the end of November will be any good!

  8. Incentive might be the spur. I remember reading a story about the guy who wrote Slumdog Millionaire. He sent 3 chapters to an agent who loved them and wanted to see the rest. That was all he’d written. So, the writer took a month (or so) off work and hammered out the rest. Book sold. Success story! Okay, some people do write faster than others!

    1. And good luck to him! But my worry with stories like that, which, true as they may be, have a fairytale feel to them, is that they encourage others to expect a magic wand to be waved over their work too. Wheras the reality for most of us is that we make our own magic the hard way.

      1. Absolutely right. I agree with someone earlier who said you need to put a story aside for a while because it seems to sharpen your critical faculties when you go back to it. We’ve all had a Mildrew moment when we’ve gone back to a story after an interval and thought: ‘I don’t believe I’ve written this!’ You just can’t do that in a month.

  9. For me, it’s not about rushing. I need to PRIORITISE this book or it will never be written. I have a day job writing magazine articles that have been taking priority – and they still will in November, but setting myself this target to do as much as I can in November (eves/weekends) will give me a kick up the butt to prioritise it during my leisure time (which otherwise tends to get swallowed up with work). That’s why I have begun NANO. Frankly, it’s also nice to have a sense of community egging you on!

    Perhaps I’ll only complete 20,000 words, I don’t care – I just need to get this prioritised. I’ll admit it’s not a complete start from scratch as I am working from a very bad draft that I wrote 20 years ago in longhand. A month of intense commitment to getting on with it, will help me move it to the next stage – to the first decent draft – or perhaps just half a draft. But it will get me to a place that is better than where I started.

    I agree with you in principle, which is why I’ve never done NANO before, but hey, I’ve been meaning to reopen this book for the past year. This is just a kick up the bum. 🙂

    1. Good point Susie – and who could seriously object to writers getting work done quickly and efficiently? I just don’t like the trend for churning something out and sticking a for sale sign on it as though any rubbish will do. It’s clear from your comments you wouldn’t do that, unfortunately there are those that do.

  10. Like most of your other commenters I’m treating it as NaFirDraWriMo, at the end of it I hope to have a story but not in anything like a publishable form. The reason I’m doing it is that if I don’t, I won’t write anything approaching novel length. Putting a limit on it has made me sit down and plan the plot, plan what goes in which chapter and what I’m going to write each day. In adititon I beleive (as long as you are willing to look back objectively and learn from your mistakes) that the more you write the better you get at writing.
    Once it’s “done” then I’ll take a break from it then go through a much longer process of editing. I write short stories in a similar way, but on a much smaller scale.
    Who knows when (if ever) it will be publishable!

    1. Sounds great to me Catherine. The process you are adopting sound similar to what I do – and if the time limit helps you then who am I to argue, it’s a personal process. And I think you will be published if you keep going!

  11. You’re absolutely right, Chris! It took me over 4 yrs to get mine out and I am constantly promoting writers take their time and make their book quality, not just another book that makes the rest of us self-pubs look like we aren’t capable of getting publishers. I chose to self-pub so I didn’t have to wait forever for some publisher to pick up my book and then take half my profits, but i made sure to put out a high quality book for people to enjoy! This type of writing gives us a bad name in most cases. I’m sure there are a few that are good, but my bet is, it’s a small few.

    1. You’re lovely Lisa – my main thing is to support all writers, and readers! I hate it if I sound like I am anti this or that and I am certainly not against self-published authors. I have said before I think it’s like punk rock where everyone got a chance to pick up a guitar. The main thing is that writing is a skill which you have to work at – as you know!

  12. Great post.Thinking is part of the writing process.I dont think it is humanly possible to think through the elements of a novel; develop the idea,create and develop characters,arrangement,themes,plots and sub plots in a month let alone write.

    1. Too true! You are so right about the thinking part – sometimes I think the scribbling down or typing is just the surface. I understand the idea it might encourage people to get started but I don’t write a first draft in a month! I write bits and pieces to get into it.

  13. I’m doing nanowrimo, but I’m working on the exact same book as I was last year, which is against their “rules”. I just need the push to get my thoughts down instead of procrastinating but I don’t like how they push that the project should be totally new. I like my book but rushing it doesn’t work for me, just produced crappy dialogue. I think nano can be useful but some of how it’s marketed isn’t.

  14. I get what you’re saying, but I think everyone is different and for any method your mileage may vary. For me–and many people out there like me–writing a first draft is daunting because there’s a lot of pressure to get it just right. It can lead some people to never finish a draft at all because of a lack of confidence.

    The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it allows people to throw their doubts out the window and just sit down and do the work. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even need to be good yet. It just needs to be complete.

    Of course, people have to understand that a book written in a month is going to need very extensive editing, a lot more than a first draft that has been crafted more carefully. But for me, editing a bad draft until it’s good is so much more manageable than staring at a blank page and trying to craft something great right off the bat.

    Even if I don’t agree with you 100%, this was a nice post. I can appreciate your concern that some “experts” are trying to take advantage of people who want a quick and easy way to write a novel. The truth is, writing a first draft in a month doesn’t guarantee a quicker or easier method to finishing a novel; it just means that the majority of a writer’s time and energy is going to be spent on the rewrite rather than the first draft.

    1. Thanks Robin. I think anything which encourages people in their writing is great. But why not make every month writing month? Raymond Carver had a note above his desk which said: ‘Write a little every day without hope and without despair.’ Don’t feel any pressure about your first draft – it’s just for you to see, and you don’t need to rush it, you just need to work carefully through until you finish it, then on to the next stage.

      1. Hi Chris – like the Raymond Carver quote! I guess that for soem writers a kick up the proverbial each November may just get them into a writing habit. But they should never expect that one month’s work will lead to a publishable draft.

        I seriously considered nanowrimo this year but decided against it as it just isn’t my style to rush things and then chuck most of it away. Waste of time (for me). My general aim to write or research every day – sometimes successful sometimes not. I find that if give myself an aim of writing x thousand words by a certain date eg currently 8K between now and Xmas (but edited too) in order to enter a competition.

        I am trying not to edit along the way but, as another poster said, a character or plot sequence may need changing as one writes further into the story and it works best (for me) to edit that before rushing on.

        My main problem is that I would like more of a web presence (because now writers are encouraged to do so to attract attantion of agents and publishers) but I fear this takes precious time away from writing my novel.

        How do you manage to write your blogs/run your website/write your own novel with work and family as well?

      2. I’m like you Lucille – I just steadily chip away at it until it’s done. I suppose I’d describe myself (not you!) as a plodder – I don’t expect miracles in a short time but I know that I will get there eventually. I think perseverance is kind of an under-rated skill for writers these days 😉

  15. I think the people who plan to churn out a book in a month and then immediately publish it via Smashwords or Kindle are doing that regardless of NaNo; I see it happening all the time. And they’re pieces of crap. You can quote me.

    I’m a s-l-o-w writer (contrary to my last name) and usually edit along the way. NaNo is good training for me to whip through, but I certainly don’t live under the delusion that it’s finished and ready for print. Last year’s book is still going through revisions and by the time it’s all said and done, will probably take about the same amount of time as yours.

    I can hammer away 50K in a month, but never said it would be good or complete. That, of course, is what the revisions and rewrites are for. To clean it up and make it worthy.

    1. There do seem to be lots of writers like you who use NaNoWriMo as a tool without having unreasonable expectations of it. My issue, like yours is with those who publish too quickly with little regard for quality.

  16. I think it would be interesting to know how many participants have grand ambitions for their prose and how many are just doing it for fun. For the latter, who might never put a pen to paper – or, indeed, their fingers to a keyboard – without the pressure and communal spirit of the occasion I’m sure it can be valuable. It’s when talented people take it seriously that it might become problematic – like a promising marathon runner taking part in a fun run.

    1. You’re right I’m sure, it depends why you get involved in these things. I’m sure lots of talented writers do it, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. My worry is more that some people will think that’s all there is to it – churn out the required number of words onto the page, stick it up on Amazon, hey presto – you’re an author. It’s that kind of mentality I have an issue with not NaNoWriMo per se or the many writers who take part in it for fun or community spirit etc.

      1. …hey presto – you’re an author…

        A peculiarity of writing is that it is so easy to fool oneself into believing that one has talent. A dreadful musician would have complaints from the neighbours; a dreadful boxer would be knocked onto his back and a dreadful architect would see their structures fall to the ground.

      2. That’s a very nice analogy. Writing is a very subjective business and always has been. The gatekeepers used to be the publishers but now, with self-publishing the gate has been thrown open. Writers have to police themselves when it comes to quality – some are very good at this, but some simply have no idea.

  17. I think every serious writer needs to find his or her own process. I think I’m getting into a groove where each pass of my novels take about a month: Plot it in a month. Write it in a month. Revise it in a month. Let my CP’s have it for a month. Revise it again… and again… and maybe again before it’s ready to see an agent or editor.

    I honestly don’t feel I can churn out good work in less time. HOWEVER, I have a full-time job and a family. Perhaps when I’m supporting myself on my writing, I will be able to crank stuff out in half the time. But I will still need “sit and think” time to let the novel shape itself in my subconscious. If I don’t have that time, it will be drivel.

    Other people might work differently.

    1. Yes Samantha – same here regarding the family and job. I don’t know that I want to write faster than I can think though, and I think quite slowly. If I was able to give up work and write full time I expect I would spend most of each day staring out of the window then quickly scribble for a couple of hours same as now. I agree with you about finding your own process, which is another reason why I am suspicious of those claiming to be able to teach people to ‘speed write’.

  18. My creative writing teacher said something interesting the other day:

    People of her generation are less used to the prospect of editing, because they’re more used to the times when handing in essays and suchlike happened exclusively by paper. Write slowly, think about what you’re doing. My generation of computer-nerds have more of an opportunity to go back and edit their work after the initial draft. Write down a general idea, flesh it out afterwards.

    I wouldn’t say one is better than the other, possibly it has more to do with how we prefer to work individually. Jury’s out on whether or not we are less likely to get anything done because we constantly go back into our manuscripts, second-guessing our choices and ‘fixing’ things, subsequently discouraging ourselves from actually finishing the book. I know I do that, personally.

    Nanowrimo can obviously help you just write the thing and publish it if that is what you want. But it also encourages people like me to simply write and not think too hard about your choices until you have a finished product that you can work on. Writing is editing, as they say.

    1. That’s very true Anja – and I think it is a good idea to do a first draft first then go back and rewrite – it’s certainly what I do, I’d say it’s crucial in fact. The issue I have is that there is nothing to gain by time limiting yourself for any part of the writing process – it should take as long as it needs to take. There is no value in writing quickly for the sake of it – the only value in the end is in writing well!

      1. While I agree that one should take the time one needs to develop and write, I do have to point out that some people work better under pressure. If I don’t give myself a deadline, I’d never finish anything I try to do, and if that deadline is too far away, I’ll never get to it. As such I think it’s unfair to say that one way works better than the other, though I would agree that once the first draft is written (reglardless of how long that takes) a writer should do everything in their power to make sure it’s the best they can produce- rather than immediately publishing it.

  19. I believe that the great advantage of writing really fast is that you actually write. Before I started doing NaNoWriMo, I would write very slowly. I would ponder over every sentence and then never had anything to rewrite. But to actually have a finished novel in my hand it would probably take a year or two 🙂

    1. Thanks Ann-Charlotte – I think you are right motivation is an important thing, through the whole process, not just the first draft. If the first draft did take you a year or so would that really be so bad? Yes you can rewrite but the first draft is still important I think. It’s like your foundations, and you don’t want to build a house on dodgy foundations! I think the aim in the end isn’t to write quickly or slowly but to write well at your own pace.

  20. 30 days for 50k words is just enough time to push out *an idea* of a novel. Dont get me wrong, I’ve been doing it for years. And there will be exceptions. But mine, even with the 30 day push take 2 years to perfect, much like yours. That said I love Nanowrimo – it really puts a fire under my creativity. Good luck to you.

    1. Thanks Jennifer – as I’m sure you’ve read, my main concern is that, for some people, this rough first draft represents a finished book which they then foist on the poor reader. Plus I don’t believe writing quickly is itself desirable, writing well is what matters.

  21. This is my first year of Nanowrimo, but I’m editing and adding on to a draft I started several years ago. I’m using it as my incentive to make time for writing. As an English teacher and avid reader, I certainly wouldn’t want to see books rushed to print just to make a deadline, either. As an incentive, it works, and I’ll be happy with whatever I can accomplish in the month (in between grading middle school essays, that is!). Good blog post – thanks!

    1. Thanks Diane – good luck with your book! As you rightly point out my problem is only with books which are rushed to publication – which I don’t believe do the reputation of writers generally any good.

  22. Thanks for your insights, Chris. I am participating in NaNoMrMo 2013, and I am finding the “just write” philosophy helpful. This is coming from one who has been thinking about this story for the past two years, only had one chapter complete because every single time I sat down to the computer, I found myself editing and revising and not getting past Chapter One. At that rate, I would never finish. Since I have it all outlined in my head, I am using this month to get a draft laid out in words. Then I will go back and fine tune what needs to be revised. NaNoWrMo is giving me what I need…a deadline to get words written. They don’t have to be the “good” words yet; they just have to be something more than one solitary chapter. As a lifelong procrastinator (I am president of my local chapter), a kick in the pants works best! 🙂

    1. And good luck to you with it! Lots of people are saying it helps get them started. And obviously there is a huge difference between a first draft and a finished book. If only all writers realised that!

  23. My personal journey to creating a novel was a degree course to understand my chosen craft and then two years to write followed by painstaking editing. Surely writing is a craft? Just like good furniture craftsmanship, should it perhaps be thought of as a skill to be learned which takes time and to also be enjoyed?

  24. I think NaNoWriMo can be great to get a head of steam for a project, but I’m forever emphasising that there is still much work to be done afterwards. Even if you’ve planned beforehand!
    I have written novels quickly to commercial deadlines, but I’d never be able to write one of my ‘proper’ books in that sort of time. Chris, I’m far closer to your routine – a year on the writing, probably as long again on the refining. And the knowledge that I did the best possible thing with the idea makes it worthwhile. For me, it would be awful to put a book out if I then thought of a better way to do it justice.
    So here’s to fast drafting if it suits you, but considered finishing.

    1. I certainly agree with all of that Ros. And, of course, my grumble isn’t with people writing at their own pace but with the idea that faster is better. I particularly object to writers whose aim is to knock something out as quickly as possible then flog it online – that’s just a shoddy way to treat the reader.

  25. The brilliance of NaNo is in getting you to sit and write, every day, no matter what. For me, every other month of the yer there are times when life gets in the way of writing whether I like it or not. But in November I have the excuse to just say NO!
    I have done NaNo for 5 years now and each year has taught me something different. My debut novel that I just published in March of this year was started in 2009 while I was in the middle of something else, I wrote 60,000 words in NaNo 2010 and finished it in 2011. Then I edited for a year and a half until it was perfect. So nothing was rushed. There are enough rushed novels out there for the world to despise and I didn’t want to be one of them.
    Nano appeals to my writing style in particular because I am more of a stream of conaciousness writer to begin with. I put everything I can down in the first draft an I write fast. Then I spend a lot, and I mean a lot, of time editing. Some people can’t write like that and NaNo is not the best fit. And that’s okay, too. It’s certainly not for everyone.
    I do wonder sometimes how many people participate in the lesser known NaNo tradition of “Editing December”. I suspect very few.
    Congratulations on publishing your novel and thank you for your take on the subject of NaNo. My brother participates every year with me but he is more of an editor as he goes. And eventually, a couple of years later, we end up in the same place.

    1. Thanks for an interesting contribution! As you know, my problem is with writing quickly for its own sake and particularly with putting books which are little more than hurried first drafts on sale to tempt the poor reader. Of course writers need to take motivation where they can find it. But for me, as I’m sure for you, the crucial thing is not writing quickly, but writing well.

  26. I took it like a challenge.
    Before NaNoWriMo, I was in a very slow pace with a novel I didn´t feel like continue, but I carried on, because It was so much effort going to waste. The another plots could wait, even if I wanted to wrote another thing, I said to myself. And then, I found NaNoWrimo and I asked myself if I could do it. an so far, I can.
    I started a new novel, but I know it´s not going to be finished in a month. There is a lot to tell, and this will be a first draft, to be polish of all the mistakes I found so far (and the ones I didn´t). It will not end at November 30th, It will continue until the end of said story, which can or can not be in this book. Too fast? Maybe, even someone like Stephen King said it´s a very god idea to take a day off, and I´m writing everyday. But this experience was, and is, like an adrenaline shot. Someting I needed. I will not write like this in a different month, because I know it will not be possible. But so far, it has been a very good experience.

    1. Well good luck with it! As you know my objection is to people who rush to publication with work that’s not been given enough time or thought – certainly not to people using it as a starting point.

  27. This was a great post and I agree with a lot of what you said. I’m willing to go a little bit farther than most commenters here and state the somewhat heretical opinion that I think NaNoWriMo does more harm than good. Clearly the “faster, faster, faster” mantra is a problem for the reasons you identify, but I also believe it fosters a very unrealistic vision of what writing a novel is really about and teaches would-be writers exactly the wrong habits and expectations.

    That’s not to say people can’t take something positive from it, but with as rarely as anyone ever finishes NaNoWriMo–it routinely has an 80 to 85% failure rate–it seems to be even rarer that a NaNoWriMo-written work, after much editing and reconstruction of that November first draft, eventually (most likely several Novembers hence) becomes a real publishable novel. I suspect the instances where that does happen occur most often among writers who probably didn’t need NaNoWriMo to “jump-start” them in the first place. There really are better ways to force yourself to write a novel. I fear that it’s broken more writers than it’s made, and that is really a shame. Mine is an admittedly unpopular view, but I also know that many of the writers who don’t like NaNoWriMo are somewhat circumspect about criticizing it publicly. That in itself is food for thought.

    1. While I respect the opinion of all the writers who have spoken on here in support of the writing month as a way of starting them off, making them work etc, I do think that it encourages speed for its own sake – when all that really matters is to write well, and to take as long as you need to do that. I agree with your point about unrealistic expectations. To write a publishable novel is hard work – anything which makes people think it might not be is giving them the wrong impression.

  28. I enjoyed your post very much, just as I’ve enjoyed every slow minute of the two years it has taken to write my novel. I’m still happily revising it now. I don’t see the point of rushing through. Words are to be savoured. If I dashed off the first draft in a month, I would always wonder how much better, more considered, more loved, it might have been.

    1. Quite right – and that’s what I don’t really get about the write it quick people. Do they not think that a little more thought and consideration might have improved their draft in any way?

  29. I echo a lot of the comments here – how writing fast (in whatever month) can be a great way to explore an idea and get a first draft down. That’s certainly why I do NaNo. I also agree that there are some who self- publish way too early just to gain the accolade of ‘author’.

    That said, I think it’s interesting that there is an assumption that those taking part in NaNo all want to publish. For some people to simply write a novel, thats enough. Last year I wrote a manuscript I had no intention of even pursuing after the first draft, just because I enjoy writing and wanted to see if a small kernel of an idea could be fleshed out into a book-length adventure.

    Each to their own – all writers have their own methods and for some quickly getting the story down to build on through revisions will work best. That doesn’t mean they should be immediately for sale online though…I think we all agree on that. A first draft is always a scaffold for improvement, whether it takes one month or a whole year.

    Interesting post. Glad I stumbled across it. 🙂

    1. Thanks Catherine – I did try not to make too many assumptions and I accept people have different reasons for writing so quickly. I still think the only worthwhile way to write is to do it as well as you can and, in many cases, that is going to clash with doing it as fast as you can. Given that most people in this situation are unpublished, or self-published, and don’t have a publisher with a deadline to worry about I say what’s the rush? Take your time, make it the best it can be!

  30. Someone on Twitter offered this Woody Allen quote as a comment on this one, which I really like: ‘I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia’

  31. Hi Chris, I agree with all your thoughts. It obvious to me that writers who have had been working at their writing for a long time know how to use NaNo to their own advantage. What annoys me is that guru you encountered seems typical of a whole host of gurus who have appeared from nowhere to spout advice that new writers latch onto believing every word is true. Usually they have a self-pub manual to sell as well:)) When I look for advice I look for someone with long-standing credentials – like Nicola Morgan for example. It is, however, too easy for some people to latch onto other people’s dreams.

    1. Thanks Jane. Yes, the whole issue of ‘writing gurus’ is a fraught one, and perhaps the subject of another blog post. As you know my issues with the speed writing thing are that writing fast is not a good thing in itself, only writing well matters and that writing fast and self publishing the hurried results is cheating the reader. I have no issue with NaNoWriMo as an organisation, or with most of the writers who take part.

  32. The past year I have toiled over a first draft and while it has been exhausting and exasperating I do feel I am starting to accomplish something that I feel satisfied with. I am now polishing, refining and editing, something which is taking far longer than I anticipated and something that filled me with gloom at the start because it felt like such a come down to go back to the start after the initial euphoria of completing a first draft.

    I can understand that having outside pressure and a deadline can be very motivating and can actually get you to the stage of having a first draft done and dusted.

    However, the idea of publishing something at that stage fills me with horror. I agree that as a writer you owe it to a reader to produce the best piece of work you feel capable of. Hell, you owe it to yourself as well, no?

    In the past I have been very tempted to put stuff online immediately just in order to get feedback. Writing alone, with no input from readers can be very frustrating and the internet and modern publishing technologies provide us with the opportunity for instant gratification. However, when I look back at some of the unedited stories I have online, I feel very disappointed with myself that I did not take the time or the care to revise and edit.

    Patience is a lesson I have learned, and I am glad of it. it is helping me to become a better writer.

    At the moment, when I despair too much of my novel and need to work on something else I write a short story. Something I can finish. If it is good enough I’ll send it out to competitions or to journals. Sometimes they get picked up and published and this can provide me with just the right amount of positive feedback to get stuck in again on the novel.

    NaNoWriMo would not be something for me. I am a planner, a thinker, a procrastinator.

    I often wonder if the enduring myth of Kerouac encourages this sort of thing?

    The idea of him sitting there with a continuous roll of paper, maniacally producing On The Road.

    Turns out this was not the case. As with any book, even this “spontaneous” masterpiece was edited and re-written.

    Perhaps people should ponder that when they sit down to write their magnum opus.

    1. Thanks Jen – wise words, and my experience exactly. Many people talk about how they race out their first draft in a few weeks then spend longer editing it. And of course, rewrites are vital. But the first draft is important too – and I don’t see why that should be hurried – it should take as long as it takes. In fact – this can make the whole process shorter overall as it makes rewriting easier. So if people really want to write a book quickly – perhaps they should take longer over their first draft?

  33. I did participate in NaNo this year — and for me, it worked. I did write 50K words, done (and I enjoyed the process). I know I’ll be rewriting/revising/continuing to write and I am looking forward to that process, I always do. But I love the feeling of getting words on the page quickly (this is not my first rodeo). I do think that there’s room for difference: some of my writer friends write more slowly, some more quickly, some linger over revisions, others edit as they write, others believe that editing while you go can’t be done. It’s all a matter of style and preference. But NaNo can work–successful novels have been written this way (Water for Elephants, Wool, and The Night Circus to name just a few of the better known NaNo novels; and by the way, Isaac Asimov, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson also wrote novels in a month or less). Can’t we just say it’s a matter of individual style and preference and not of right or wrong? I certainly don’t hate on writers who write more slowly than I do. (By the way, for the record, I will not be rushing to publish, but that’s an entirely different conversation and issue, in my opinion.)

    1. Hmm – I don’t think there is anywhere in this post where I suggested I hate anyone? My worry is that writers, particularly inexperienced ones, are being encouraged to think writing quickly is a good thing in itself, when in fact it is only writing well which matters. Of course writers should work at their own pace – not someone else’s. I don’t think I we can say writing quickly and then publishing the results are two separate issues when there are ‘writing gurus’ out there encouraging people in this behaviour. I’m sure we can agree at least that it is the quality of the book which counts, not how quickly it was written.

  34. I agree, a good novel cannot be churned out in a month. However, I think it is a good idea for first timers to attempt this to produce a first draft. It won’t be a masterpiece but it allows novices like myself to practise the craft. I think if I were to do something like this then the sheer amount I could achieve would help boost my confidence in writing. I would see it only as the first stage, print it all off and edit it almost beyond all recognition. But it would be a start.

    1. I totally agree everyone has to start somewhere Faye, and confidence is a crucial thing. But I don’t see why someone would need to time-limit themselves in this way – if you give yourself as much time as you need and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself you are likely to do a better job surely? Editing is massively important of course – but a house needs firm foundations.

  35. Stephen King writes 2000 words a day, every day. So he’s essentially NaNoWriMo-ing twelve months per year. He finishes almost all his first drafts in 3 months or less.

    The point of NaNoWriMo is to finish a first draft in a month. (Or just write the first 50k words of a first draft.) Not write a novel and call it finished. There’s still editing/revising after that, and that can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

    The point is to get a first draft quickly (just like King does), so you can start the polishing phase earlier and spend more time on it; and still finish your novel in less time overall. You say you finish a novel in roughly two years. I bet all my money that if you wrote your first drafts quicker, you’d finish a novel six months earlier, and they’d have the same quality (maybe, just maybe, even better).

    Basically, spending too much time on a first draft is a waste of time.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Caio, but I really must take issue with your basic argument.

      “I bet all my money that if you wrote your first drafts quicker, you’d finish a novel six months earlier.”

      Sorry, but I have to disagree with you. I cannot imagine any realistic circumstance under which this is likely to be true.

      This sort of thinking is, I feel, exactly the myopic mindset that NaNoWriMo seems to have instilled in people, and is Exhibit A on why I think it does more harm than good. We’re not laying linoleum flooring here. We don’t get paid by the square foot. NaNoWriMo hands people a 4-foot-wide paint roller and makes them believe they can render the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 20 minutes, if only they keep painting. It doesn’t work that way in real life.

      “Basically, spending too much time on a first draft is a waste of time.”

      I couldn’t disagree more with this statement. Expecting to excrete a worthless first draft and polish it into “The Grapes of Wrath” is naive and unrealistic. You have to have something to build on. Where is NaNo’s focus on quality, on craft? Where do they suggest the real work be done? Not in November, evidently; the focus is all on word count, word count, word count, word count, word count, word count, word count and word count. The organizers of the event are curiously silent about what comes after the feverish, excretory-first-draft phase. It’s not like NaNoWriMo is followed by NaNoEdMo (National Novel Edit Month) in December or NaNoReWriFroScraMo (National Rewrite From Scratch Month) in January–and, likely, February, March, April, May, June and July. Those less romantic realities would dampen the spirit of tribal conviviality and they would confer no boasting rights. (“I edited 8,432 words today!” doesn’t lend itself to a tweet or a badge you can put on your blog).

      The dubious upsides of NaNoWriMo tend to be disturbingly inseparable from diminishment or denial of its downsides, which suggests to me that a cognitive dissonance is at work here. The basic assumption of NaNo appears to be that anything is better than nothing, and writing 2,000 hasty and thoughtless words in a day is necessarily a better use of a writer’s time than writing 500 well-chosen, thoughtful words over three days. I can’t get behind that assumption.

      1. The thing is that there is such a thing as way too slow. Imagine the Sistine Chapel ceiling being painted in a period of over 60 years. It most definitely wouldn’t make it any better, and probably make it worse. Spending more time on something than what is the minimum necessary to do it does no good, and can actually harm your work.

        And I am talking out of personal experience here. I have written first drafts of *short stories* that took me a whole damn year to finish, and turned out to the worst ones I’ve ever written. And I written a 24k words novella in pretty must just a month that is my best writing. Last year, I did NaNoWriMo and finally finished a novel, that was in my head for years but I never finished because, guess what? I was thinking way too much, and writing way too slow. After NaNo, I compared my novel with the first chapters I had written before and, yes, what I have written during NaNo was a lot better.

        Now I am doing NaNo again, and I am going faster than last year. I am really, really convinced that the novel I am writing now is better than the one I was writing then.

        But there’s one thing, I truly, honestly believe that different things work for different people. I *know* that *I* write better if I write faster (maybe not if I write too fast, but that never happened). I KNOW that, because I tried it and it worked for me.

        Maybe Chris should just try writing a first draft at a rate of 2000 words a day, and see what happens. He might end up writing the worst novel imagine. Or he might write the best novel he’s ever written.

        This is the kind of stuff you simply *cannot* know unless you try it yourself.

      2. Have you ever heard of “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas”?
        It’s entire first draft was written in **two and a half days**.

        Two. And. A. Half. Days.

        We are talking about a book that is by far the most recognized book by John Boyne, and reached No. 2 on the New York Times Bestseller List. (I read somewhere it was no. 1, but I can’t confirm that.)

        Yeah, it is really naïve and unrealistic…

      3. P.S.: I have two published short stories. The first one was written, edited and revised in pretty much a month. The second one I have written in one day and sent to the publisher without any editing or revision. This second one was more well received by the readers than the first one.

    2. Thanks for your contibution Caio. If you prefer to write quickly good luck to you – I’m not against that. I don’t think it matters any more than whether you write with a pencil or a laptop. All that’s important is that you write well – and if you are producing the best work you can then that’s all anyone can ask isn’t it? My worry with the speed writing thing is that people are being asked to produce work at a speed which isn’t right for them – that they are rushing and producing junk in the process, then some are self-publishing that junk. I don’t think we need a special month to write either – every month is writing month as far as I’m concerned! 🙂

      1. The thing with first drafts is that they (99% of the time) simply can’t be written well. First drafts are terrible, and they should be terrible. All that makes novel good is the process after you finished a first draft.

        Stephen King says that the best way you can write a first draft is to write it as fast as you possibly can (although not exactly with these words), and I completely agree. I think most people take a lot more time to finish something than they should. NaNoWriMo is a great exercise to make people write faster, without necessarily rushing.

        But, yeah, there are a lot of people who do NaNoWriMo just for the sake of hitting the 50k mark, so they write a lot of things they know they’re going to just cut out if they ever edit the thing. But that is not a problem with NaNoWriMo, it’s a problem with people.

  36. I am currently taking part in NaNowrimo for the fourth time and whilst I completely take your point about rushing to self-publish a sub-standard and hastily written novel, for me NaNowrimo is more about overcoming writer’s block to get a basic framework down, from where I can go back and start to properly craft something. NaNowrimo is a great way to focus the mind and develop a very rough first draft-anyone who doesn’t appreciate that’s what they will have at the end of it will fail as a writer, end of. But I do believe with patience and hard work a NaNowrimo first draft can become a solid novel – or at least I intend to spend the next year finding out.

  37. Well, Hemingway said that “the first draft of anything is shit.” I think that as long as you don’t mistake it for a masterpiece, you’re golden. Imagine what Simenon’s output would have been like if he’d have taken an extra week.

    1. He did indeed say that Nanette – and I sometimes refer to it as an antedote to feeling paralysed with fear or indecision over a first draft – it’s an exhortation to get things done. My worry though is that things have swung the other way and people are being encouraged to give this important, early part of their work little or no attention – as though it doesn’t matter how bad or hurried the first draft is because it can all be sorted out later on. A good house starts with good foundations and I don’t think any craft should be rushed.

  38. Looks like this post has really sparked people’s interest.
    I’m not sure that “quick is better” is promoted any more than “a novel takes time”. Besides, we all have to do it our own way and some readers (not me) don’t mind first draft quality prose. Actually, I think two years is still pretty fast for your first novel, especially with a job on top. Stick with the slow!

    1. It depends who is doing the promoting I suppose. There are ‘writing gurus’ out there who encourage people to crash things out quickly so they can sell them. I’ve heard from these people myself. And Nanowrimo, by its very nature, is encouraging people to finish their first draft more quickly than they would do – and sadly for some, the first draft is the only draft!

  39. A fascinating subject for a blog post Chris. Some of these genre writers can bang out their very basically written books really quickly, but it is evident that more complex and intuitive types of books like yours and those that entail a lot of research can take years to write.

    1. Thanks Guy – I think it’s a valid point – which I’m not sure has been made before on here that some types of book are quicker to write than others. I think my criticism of the write it quick movement is that it encourages inexperienced and first time authors to rush things they might be better taking a little more time over. I also object to the idea that writing quickly is much of an achievement in itself – the first priority, whatever your genre, must always be to write well.

  40. Agree wholeheartedly with this, Chris. My other beef with these sort of ‘let’s cash in on the self-publishing thing’ sites/courses is that they imply that anyone can write a novel worth publishing, which is not the case. I do think that if you’re a self-published writer it’s a good idea to learn to write at a certain rate as you need to maintain your readership with new titles – my current WIP is a long-ish tome that’s taking a fair bit of research and won’t be ready until next year, so before I started it I spent 3/4 months writing a 36K word novella – but I don’t see that rushing something out will do anyone and favours (least of all the poor suckers who buy it, if any) and I don’t believe anyone can write a decent novel in a month. Do you remember the 90 Days Novel? Two chaps who challenged themselves to produce a full length novel from scratch to publish in 90 days? I read the reviews and many said there were plot holes, proofreading errors, etc, which probably could have been fixed had they spent a couple more months getting beta readers, a decent proofreader, etc.

    1. I think you’re quite right. I can see that if you have a deadline to work to and a need to get something out on time then professionalism dictates that you hit that. But I don’t see the value in rushing for its own sake or in encouraging inexperienced writers to dash off work quickly when they might learn more by taking their time over the journey.

  41. Hi Chris,
    An interesting read. I kind of hover between the two opinions.

    I like the idea of NaNoWriMo as a way of ‘building the skeleton’ on which to put the meat. I think its a good way of churning out content to flesh out in redrafts. Water For Elephants is proof good things can come out of NaNo. I’m currently reading Chris Baty’s (the founder of NaNo’s) No Plot? No Problem!, explaining the idea behind how to approach it. I like his thoughts. Above all other themes or suggestions in the book, the overarcing one just seems to be ‘have fun and see where it goes’.

    I fully suspect that Water For Elephants was developed beyond NaNo, so its not me saying its a proven solution, more a guide or method as ‘wawoman’ in the first comment suggests, to help a writer get their bum on a seat and writing routinely. This is what I struggle with namely due to other commitments. Work being one. I’m from a managerial background, so I can see similar traits to NaNo as I can in Agile methodologies such as scrum sprints – a regular repeatable work cycle.

    I’ll be having a go this year. My sole purpose is to get me writing regularly again. It’ll be a bonus if I have something editable at the end of it. If I don’t, at least I’ve got my slow burner (2 years and counting!) to fall back on 🙂

    1. Good luck with it! I find what works for me is to make a little time regularly – say an hour an evening, and build it brick by brick – eventually you have your house – but at your own pace.

  42. I have participated in NaNoWriMo for several years. I have never bought into their hype about write the draft in 30 days, spend the next 30 days on revisions and then publish. I use their site, other participants in my area, and motivation to get my ideas on paper. It helps me focus on getting my thoughts out of my head and to a place where I can work with them. I have completed the 50,000 word goal twice, but have yet to finish either of my novels. One I decided was going to need a lot more detail so I shelved it for a while. I work on the other as I have time and it is coming along slowly. I have been working on it for two and a half years since NaNoWriMo. I know there are those who think they can do the quick novel, I am not one of those. I am too much of a perfectionist. 🙂

    1. Me too! And, as you know from my blog, I have no objection to people doing what helps them to write – it’s just those who inflict rushed first drafts on the reading public as self published ebooks who get on my nerves! Good luck with your book and I am sure you will get there in the end.

  43. I am 100% with you on this. I’ve nothing against people churning out book after book and releasing them on Kindle as quickly as possible; I’ve a friend who writes horror books and has built up a massive following doing this. But for me, if I’m going to write something, I’m going to take my time on it. Make the effort to get it right; check and double check spelling and grammar.

    I’m doing my own sort of NaNoWriMo challenge this month; I’ve decided to make a start on my book by writing 500 words a day, every day. Not so much in order to have a book by the end of it (it would be a blummin’ short book!) but to get myself into the swing of writing that sort of content again, and get myself into the right frame of mind.

    1. That’s great – I’m very much in favour of people doing their own thing, I think writing is quite an individual process and I’m naturally suspicious of a mass attempt to get everyone doing the same thing I suppose! Good luck with your writing! 🙂

  44. I know from following some authors that the editing process itself can take weeks, striving to get it just right. I do like the idea of NaNoWriMo for focusing the mind a bit and the support of others during this time is immense. But I’m not sure how you could punch out a book in that time. Unless you possibly didn’t move at all from your writing place (or eat or sleep). But probably not even then!

  45. Jaye wrote the first draft of ‘Nine Lives’ earlier this year with Nano, mainly because she was getting nowhere with a difficult plot and a messy pile of notes. I think it helped her to reveal the bones,so to speak, and she really enjoyed the editing afterwards.
    There is no easy way to write, no shortcuts or quick fixes. Creation takes as long as it takes, and that’s how it should be…
    Briliant post, Chris…

  46. I’m not sure I follow your logic, Chris. Do you know how many people participate in NaNoWriMo? If you did, I doubt you would have posted this. NaNoWriMo is not about spitting a publishable book out in 30 days. Plenty of hacks do that without the benefit of NaNoWriMo. Until you’ve been in the trenches with the thousands who have challenged themselves to write 50k words in 30days, until you’ve talked with some of them who are putting words down for the very first time in many cases, I wouldn’t be so quick to sound off against their efforts. Some of them may be your readers. Some of them just need encouragement in a world that offers less of it every day. Some of them, might outsell you some day. Ten fold. Be wary, fellow writer. Lest you alienate over 400,000 people worldwide.
    -KL Cooper (NaNoWriMo 2014 Participant and Full-time Professional Writer)

    1. I think I was quite clear and careful in saying what I object to KL – and it certainly isn’t everyone who participates in nanowrimo. I object to people who self publish rushed first drafts and expect readers to pay for them, thus devaluing the craft of writing for the rest of us. I also feel people should write at their own pace and I don’t necessarily think faster is better.

  47. I first tried NaNoWriMo in 2008. I made it three days. I tried again in 2009. I made it four days. Did I mention that I spent most of that time editing what I’d written? Moral of the story? I cannot just write and hope for the best. I struggle over each word. I want there to be meaning to my sentences. I want what I write to be something that I am proud of and that is worth pushing out into the world. Apparently that’s not a huge requirement for many people, but I’d feel horrible if I published something that I had written in 30 days and then edited in 30 days. I am *still* working on what I started on in 2008 (damn full time job), but I’m nearly done and I can say with all honesty that I am really quite proud of what I’ve written … and … I think it’s a lot better than some of the stuff I’ve seen pushed out from NaNo participants in the same genre.

    1. For me, it’s crucial people write at their own pace to produce the best work they possibly can. If that pace happens to be very fast then good luck to them, but it’s not that way for everybody and the important thing is making your book the best it can be! 🙂

  48. Right, why rush art? But some people need the motivation or the community or the public shame. Ok, maybe not me, but some people.

    At FastPencil, we don’t care what route you take to write. Take your time, manage multiple projects and collaborators, publish and print books when you’re ready.

    Writing can be hard. We make self-publishing easy.

  49. The best way to sell a book is to write a sequel. This is not only true of books by unknown writers like me but of best-selling authors too. Just look at how many best-sellers are part of a series or very similar to the last published success of that author.

    The commercial reality, then, is that a rapid sequel will get you more sales than a well-considered stand-alone a couple of years later. And, in a capitalist world, the commercial reality drives the market.

    A quick follow-up *may* gather sales for your series and, if it is terrible, it took you no more than a few weeks of your spare time. So look to see a lot more of them.

    Does this lead to well-written books? Do bears use public lavatories?

    Many of the books on Amazon are rubbish and well-written books by self-published or small-press authors are lost in the slew of garbage. People who encourage would-be writers to think they can turn something decent out in a few weeks are contributing to the garbage and helping the destruction of the publishing industry. There are a few – very few – genuinely talented writers who do write very fast, but I doubt they’re taking these courses.

    You asked for comment, so I’ve commented. I don’t expect it to change anything.

    1. Sounds about right to me Tom. And I agree, it won’t change anything. I didn’t expect to change anything by writing this piece either, but I felt it worthwhile to express a point of view which I believe is valid, though it is also against the prevailing trend.

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