In case you’re new here, or it somehow wasn’t abundantly obvious, I love to write. Naturally, I find myself frequenting writing blogs to see what tips and tricks are floating around. Most of them, I find I agree with, some are subjective and don’t fit my writing, but there are others, just a few that crop up occasionally, which are downright alarming to me. One such blog post? ‘I wrote a book in two days!’ or ‘I wrote a book in one week’ or others like ‘How to write a book FAST!’
I don’t come across these posts often, perhaps because most people know that writing a book generally doesn’t happen in such a short span of time, but still, there are a few posts out there encouraging newbie writers to pressure themselves into penning their novel in mere days.
Naturally, I had to try. I’ve been writing novels since I was twelve, but I’ve never given publishing a shot, so I don’t really know my credentials here, but the writing process is familiar to me. The challenge was to write a novel in a week.
And by write a novel, I mean start from absolute scratch. From nada. Nothing. Just the smallest little bit of an idea. But because I gather those who teach or talk about how to speed write a novel are only speaking about the first draft and not the editing, I’m leaving the editing out of this one. Everyone knows editing takes an age.
So, a simple challenge, but a big one.
I’ll spoil this now and tell you that this turned out to be the most anticlimactic challenge of my life.
I chose the busiest working week ever.
Did I pass my challenge? No. I barely cracked 10,000 words, but between working from 8am to anywhere between 6 to 11pm, writing a book is not achievable.
Did I actually think I would achieve it if I didn’t have a chaotic working week? No. No way.
Monday was really the only time I got to work on the project, and by that I mean I had two hours in the morning in which, I planned and plotted the entire thing, and wrote a hefty chunk for such a short time. Then, the rest of the week slipped by without me even opening the document. I’m not even sure I lifted the lid of my laptop for most of that week.
I never thought this would work. Why didn't I believe in myself?
There is one key reason I thought that writing a book in a week wouldn't work for me, and a few other minor reasons too. The key reason? I didn't believe I could come up with an idea in a week that I would fall in love with enough to find the passion, and dedication to commit to writing it. Writing a book is a hefty task, and to stick with it throughout its ups and downs, you really do have to love it. I didn't love my idea I came up with on that first day enough to commit my sleeping hours to it.
The minor reasons? I do not type, think or create quickly. I'm just not that person.
What would I do differently if I did it again?
I would change the rules. I'd give myself time to formulate an idea beforehand, fall in love with it, plan it and then leave the week to just writing. As I've said, I firmly believe that 'writing a book' is more than just act of writing - it's all parts of the process. But for a challenge like this, I'd take 'writing a book' literally, and only include the actual writing in my time limit. Do I think I'd succeed if I tried it again? Nope.
Why is 'write fast' such a harming and unachievable piece of advice for newbie writers?
Not only is it kind of unnecessary, but it sets up unrealistic expectations for young writers. As if writing a book in a week is just something that people sit down and do. As if writer's block isn’t a thing. As if words flow easily out of the brain.
I don’t know anyone whose brain is a coursing river, whose words flow so effortlessly and quickly out of them, that their fingers type incessantly and the result is pure gold, sentences that flow from one to the other like poetry if poetry was honey. If I had to compare a writers brain to anything, I’d compare it to rush hour. If rush hour was at midnight, and there were no lights and the thickest fog in history clung to everything, and the drivers of all the cars were frogs and the cars themselves were rocks, and frogs were stuck in the rocks, and the frogs in the rocks are our figurative words and the end of the highway is the beginning of the path out of the brain. In other words, words are hard (Unless that’s just me and I’m particularly incompetent, in which case, I’ll take that).
My advice to newbie writers feeling the pressure to get that book finished quickly:
Writing fast isn’t important, but writing well is. I’d rather read a book that took someone thirty years than read one that took someone thirty hours.
If writing fast is your writing process, and if that speed works for you, go for it. However, when writing an article intended to help, it doesn’t matter one's own capability, the reader matters.
So, writers, if you want to write, write.
If you want to speed through it, I’ll cheer you on.
If you want to linger in the corner of your mind with a tiny little paintbrush and embellish everything with minute detail that no one will ever see, you do that. Also, can I read your book?
Writing is art. The first rule of art is that there are no rules of art.
But if you’re a newbie writer, please don’t feel pressured to speed write.
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