How To Write One Novel In A Year


I recently saw a blog post that detailed how to write four books a year. Of course, I know some writers who write more books than that, but there are plenty who write fewer. Chalk me up on that latter list.

But you know what there isn’t? I’ve not really seen a sure-fire way to struggle and stumble your way into writing a book over the course of 365 days. So….here we go. (By the way, this is roughly the way I’ve written my latest book, which may or may not be finished within the calendar year. [sidenote: it will. {side-sidenote: I really, really hope.}]).

Day 1: Write 27 words as a Facebook status update. Make it funny in an ironic sort of way and laugh about it quietly as a half-dozen of your closest semi-anonymous comment and/or like the post.

Day 2: Write 43 words. Again as a Facebook update, but loosely tie it into the original post from yesterday. Give a little backstory and create some forward momentum. And be funny. Chuckle as only three people “get” your unique brand of humor.

Day 3: Based on the previous two days of Facebook posts, add a twist. The post should reference the previous two days, but give the reader a sense of purpose and originality that is lacking in most Facebook posts. (Author note: this only works on Facebook. Don’t try this on Twitter or Snapchat or any of those other loser social media sites.)

Day 4-10: Add some other junk to your previous smatterings and tie it together in what we writer professionals call a “plot.”

Day 11: Take a day off. You deserve it.

Day 12: OK. So this is a thing now. True, you’ve only written 987 words over the course of a week and a half, but that’s still something, right? Maybe you should examine your characters and their motivations or something like that. Double what you’ve written so far in a torrential downpour of words. Then delete those words cuz they were terrible anyway.

Day 13: Enter THE BROTHER. (Alternately, THE SISTER may be a viable alternative.) THE BROTHER…we’ll call him Saul…sends you a message. “I like your story,” it says. “I came up with a plot device,” it reads. “Can I write more and we incorporate it?” You quickly reply “YES” because what he’s written is about 1×10^26 better than whatever you’ve written so far. Whatever you thought you were writing — YOU WERE WRONG and you need to reevaluate everything. Perhaps even your breakfast choices. A toaster pastry is clearly so 1990’s, after all.

Day 14-30: Marvel at what THE BROTHER writes. He claims to be just taking your lead on the story, but clearly his ideas are better than yours. Maybe you were really adopted? Your genes aren’t coming up with original ideas like he is. What’s wrong with you? Maybe switching from toaster pastries to Cap’n Crunch Berries wasn’t the best move.

Day 31: Time to get serious. Between you and Saul, there are now enough words to actually publish and not be embarrased. Problem is that you only have the beginnings of a story. Only the “P” of an actual Plot if you will. So, take a look at Saul’s additions and embrace it. Switch the entire POV of the narrative and go with the side character that he embraced as his protagonist. Oh…and decide to switch from first person to third person, necessitating an entire rewrite of the story thus far.

Day 32: Super Bowl. Eat Lil’Smokies wrapped in Bacon and dip it in Nacho Cheese. Enjoy the Bathroom tomorrow.

Day 33: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 34: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 35: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 36: Continue pondering where to really take the story.

Day 37: Write a side plot cuz you can’t really think about what you really want to do with your main characters.

Day 38-75: Trade off storylines with THE BROTHER. Be envious when you realize he has the best storylines, and then realize he has the best ones because he wrote them that way.

Day 76: Realize he feels the same way about your storylines and accept that you might actually be a decent writer. Maybe. Perhaps.

Day 77-95: Take a break. You have a short story to write about zombies and football, so focus on that and let Saul take the lead on the book for a while. RIP Jellyroll.

Day 96-108: Stress over the potential edits of the aforementioned zombie/football story. Write 24-48 words a day while under the cloud of future edits, and occasionally go back and delete those very words a few days later.

Day 109: You’ve been working hard. Take a day off.

Day 110: Write a couple hundred words and wrap up a scene that’s been sitting open for two months. Breath a sigh of relief and throw out the Cap’n Crunch. All the cool kids are eating bagels anyway.

Day 110: You’ve been working hard. Take a day off.

Day 111-140ish: Work at a snail’s pace on the book, putting a rough plan in place to “HIT IT HARD” in the summer. As you and THE BROTHER are both teachers, the summer is like Shangri-la. A promised land with candy and time. This will be the summer of finishing ALL THE THINGS. Let’s do it!

Day 141-148: What were you thinking? You’ve got a vacation to start your summer break in the mountains of Tennessee. OK. Do the vacation and then when you get back, do ALL THE WRITING.

Day 149-150: Back from vacation. Worn out and the kids don’t seem to get the fact that you got stuff to do. Seriously.

Day 151-155: Another trip. This time a national tournament for the school’s quiz bowl team. OK. Have fun, and when you get back, do ALL TEH WRITING.

Day 156: Get back. Wife goes to her parents. Kids don’t get it that they need to stay quiet and work on their particle physics all day in their rooms. Especially the five-year-old. Sheesh.

Day 157-165: Wife still gone. Kids still kids. Manuscript still untouched even after weeks of summer break actually in existence and whooshing by like…things that whoosh by. Mind turns to mush after the tenth episode of “Bubble Guppies” in one day.

Day 166-180: Wife calls. Needs you at her parents to set up for an estate sale. Spend the next two weeks cleaning and emptying outside buildings and barns. Physical exhaustion sets in. An unfamiliar feeling…sleep beckons and will not be ignored.

Day 181: Estate sale done. Money made, but not for me. Book still unfinished. THE BROTHER notes your place at the bottom of the pit and tries to reach you. Unfortunately, he lives on the Left Coast and the humidity of the Midwest prevents his arm from reaching you.  Despair. Desperation. The book sits unloved on my Google Drive. It may never see the light of day.

Day 182: OK. First day of July. Let’s do this. Cracking the document open you realize the book isn’t half bad. It might not be half good, either, but it ain’t half bad. One of the kids is at camp…maybe you can get stuff done.

Day 183: Nope.

Day 184: Also nope.

Day 185: Add 500 words.

Day 186-194: Peck away word by word, but look forward to THE BROTHER flying to the Midwest in person. Know THINGS will be accomplished in his mere presence. Put your faith in the ridiculous idea you’ll write 40,000 words in a week of him and his family being around.

Day 195: Nope.

Day 196-210: Hang out with Saul. Talk about the book, but work rarely. Have 99 year old grandmother pass away in Upper South Dakota and have to travel there with the rest of the family. Manuscript survives. But just barely.

Day 210-220: School starts soon. Write a little, but prep for the Fall. Summer is gone and so was your chance to fully write. THE BROTHER starts school later, but he has second and third vacations so he doesn’t write either.

Day 221: First day of School. Yay.

Day 222: Second day of School. Double yay.

Day 223: Third day of School. The GRADING begins. Writing is tough enough without having to decipher the scrawlings of a 10th grade boy. Oy. Forget it. I’ll try again in a couple weeks.

Day 224-260: Try. Try to start writing again. Remember how great of a book this can be and write in spurts.

Day 261: Return of THE BROTHER, along with his cultivated ideas for where to take the story and how to finish. Shame upon your house for not getting it done, but praise be to THE BROTHER. Saul is your muse. Take it and run.

Day 262-285: Write. Write and write some more. Settle on the final details of the final scene. Realize your year-long novel writing plan may end up being a 10-month plan.

Day 286: Write a blog about how to write a book in a year.

Day 287: MAKE BANK>


TIME HEIST only $0.99 (for now)!


My buddy Anthony Vicino has his novel on sale for just 99 pennies today!  I’m reading it right now and am loving it so far. Go get it!

Get your copy of the bestselling cyberpunk technothriller, TIME HEIST, for only $0.99. Do it now or I’ll set my rabid robo-puppies on you!

Source: TIME HEIST only $0.99 (for now)!