Writing a book can be a daunting task, but to say one can write twelve novels in a year sounds ludicrous. Actually it’s not. It can be done when you prepare for it and put your nose to the grindstone.
But let me make one thing clear. I’m not talking about publishing them all in one year. There is a lot more to getting a book published than to writing a first draft. We are talking about getting that muse working to produce those first drafts that are so hard to get done. Think of it as an extended writing challenge.
Have you done NaNoWriMo? This is a great project for all writers in the month of November. The goal is to write at least 2000 words a day with the end result being the first draft of a novel. Writing 12 novels in a year is like doing NaNoWriMo twelve times.
As you finish each of these twelve novels, you can let them age while you jump onto the next one. Then when you are ready for the self-edit phase of draft two you’ll mentally be prepared for it and can dig into the novel.
Yes, I know. Everyone has lives they need to live, and most take a lot of time away from other things to complete NaNoWriMo. Well, the truth is that the more you write, the faster you find yourself writing. Those 2000 words come quickly and can easily turn into 3000 or 4000 words a day, and that is while you are working full time and running a household. It can be done. How do I know? I’ve done it.
Step 1: Have a Plan
To be successful in this venture, you need a plan. You can’t just jump in it and start writing, thinking you’ll get the 12 novels done. Know which books you will write in this period. Know their plots. By doing this, you don’t have to begin the creative process with a blank sheet. This removes the long process that begins in the mind before the writing starts.
When I sat down to write my 12 novels, I used the ones I had made the most progress on. I mean I had written down the gist of the plot and what the story was about. These were stories I had thought up months or years before and had been brewing in the back of my mind ever since.
I list them out by month. January is Book 1. Febraury is Book 2. And so on.
These are all stories that I had general ideas of including locations and names. My muse is just waiting until I’m ready to write.
Now I have a plan of what stories I’m going to write. It’s time to set up my life where I can get this done.
Step 2: Arrange Life
To me, this is the biggest hurdle of all to get over. It’s not just us we have to mess with here. There are spouses, or significant others, children, extended family, co-workers, and everyone else in our life. Murphy’s Law reigns in my life so this part is not going to be as easy as Step 1. I have to look over my day to day life and see where I can set the time to just write.
My life is getting up for work at 5:30 in the morning at the very latest to get out the door on time. I arrive at work between 6 and 6:30 and work until 3:30. I’m home by 4. Then I cook dinner, clean up and either do laundry or sit and watch TV with my family. Weekends include running errands and doing housework.
Now do you see where I can make arrangements to get the writing in? I could get up a half hour earlier. There is my lunch break at work and several hours in the evening I can spend writing. On the weekends I can take an hour or two each day and sneak away. That time will not throw my life in a whirlwind.
I realize that this might not always work. Life just loves to throw me any curve ball it can. My son will have a ballgame two or three times a week. That takes away from the time I allotted. Then there is a sick daughter I have to take to the clinic. There are many things that can get in the way.
But there has to be some time that is set in stone barring acts of God. Set it aside and guard it with all you have.
Step 3: Mentally Plan
Every author is different. For me, I like to see my story come alive before I ever start writing it. For days, weeks, or months before I write the story, I’m playing it out in my head. Over and over it goes and many of the issues I would have met writing are corrected in my head. In a way, the story is written before it is physically written.
Also, as I do this, I’m making notes of any research I need to do.
Step 4: Research Material
Not every story needs extensive research. But most need just a little. For example, let’s look at my stories I want to write again. In my mind I already know what these stories are to be about. As my mind has gone over the storylines, I’ve come across some things I might need to research. The idea is to help speed the writing process along, so I need to read the research prior to writing.
It might be a matter of reading up on a location. If my story is set in Italy, I need to get familiar with the geography, culture, and sites. Even knowing a little of the language helps in case I need to have a character ask for the bathroom.
I gather my research material and review before I begin writing. In the case of one book, Princes in the Tower, I watched documentaries. Anything that helped me prepare to just write was done. Before I actually begin the writing, I’m thinking about the stories.
Step 5: Accountability
While this is not necessary, it is very helpful in getting these 12 written this year. Have someone as a cheerleader and drill sergeant in your writing life. Report to them on a daily basis on your progress. Let them keep you on your toes.
Step 6: Set Goals and Rewards
You need to set goals for yourself if you really want to get this done. What is the goal of the Na..challenge? Typically you are to strive for at least 2000 words a day in 30 days. That will give you on average a 60,000 word rough draft in the end.
Step 7: Set D-Day
As you set goals, you need to set a finish date. That is your end goal. It is something to work toward.
Put it on a big calendar. Check it off everyday. Know that you have to get things done before you can be successful.
Step 8: Get Started
This seems pretty obvious. Yet too many struggle with actually starting a story. Actually starting anything, a diet or any life change, is the hardest part to do. Once you get started, you’ll find it easier to continue.
Push yourself. Have a friend help push you. Sometimes you need that kick in the rear to get going. Nothing wrong with that at all.