Writing a book in a short time frame — whether it’s 30 days, six weeks, whatever — is about quantity over quality. It’s about putting your head down and getting words on paper. Is it possible? Sure. Is it a great idea? Not so much, in my opinion. You’re interested in quality over quantity.
Please don’t misunderstand: Can you write a FIRST DRAFT in 30 days that you’ll then spend at least that amount of time revising and improving? Absolutely. But writing a draft in 30 days and then putting that book into production (that is, having it edited and formatted) is almost impossible if you’re publishing a high-quality book.
Writing a book in a short time frame might get you the desired number of words, but by the time an editor is finished with them, you might end up with half of what you started with. Better to, instead, take your time and get the text closer to right. (Notice I didn’t say perfect, and you still should have the text edited, but your starting point for the editing phase will be a more complete, cleaner text.)
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? That’s shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, and it happens every November. It’s a writing challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November, which averages to about 1,700 words each day. When I first heard of it, about 10 years ago, I thought, “That’s ridiculous. Now every fool on earth will think he is a writer!” The more I thought about it, though, the more I liked the premise behind it:
Write every day. That’s how you build momentum. (Tweet)
Just write that first draft — get it on paper and THEN revise/edit later. (Tweet)
Don’t overthink. Just write.
The next November I decided to put my money where my mouth was and try it. I wrote nonfiction rather than a novel, which is a different beast, but I loved the rhythm of writing each day, at the same time, and in the same place. What I found (from my experience as well as talking with other NaNoWriMo participants) was that writing daily and the importance of a writing routine are crucial for many, many people. If you’ve followed me for a while, those sound familiar because I regularly talk about them with regard to book writing. So I love that about NaNoWriMo and similar quick-writing challenges.
What I still don’t love, after all these years of following and, some years, participating, is that the challenge is a word total, not a finished draft.
What do YOU think about quick-writing challenges and the idea of writing a book in 30 days? Tell me in the comments!