Monday, June 23, 2014

Writing a Book in a Week

So, my incredibly talented friend Taryn does this thing from time to time where she writes a book in a weekend. I've seen her live tweet the process on twitter and read her post on doing it a bajillion times. During her most recent go of it, I wondered if it was something I could try doing. And I ended up getting an idea during that weekend. We write at about the same rate and I'm also childless, currently jobless (mostly), and not in school so...why couldn't I do it?

Well, a few reasons. One being my attention span. Another being that I did have SOME responsibilities. I had 2 manuscripts to beta read, one to read as a giveaway win, and some blog tour stuff to work out. A third was that I was going to be at my parents' for at least the next three weekends, which always mean running around, doing errands, trying to spend time with my mom since she works crazy hours, and baseball games.

So logically I should do it in a week instead. And of course, I had to do it right away because, as I mentioned, I was returning to my parents'. My brother was about to start half days at school, then the week after he would start being home 24/7 with only me until 4 in the afternoon. It would mean having to move rooms as various people wanted to do various things that are specific to certain rooms and helping my brother with the computer and taking care of pets and having friends who haven't seen me much wanting to spend time with me. And at my apartment, I had pretty much no responsibilities, no reasons to leave, and nobody to judge my weird eating/sleeping habits as I did this because my roommate's used to it.

To sum that up: Last weekend, Taryn wrote a book in a weekend. I decided to try writing a book in a week. I had my idea. Which brings us to the time line of actually writing the book:

Sunday Night/Monday: Develop the idea/characters slightly. Outline the first five major scenes.


1:00 am: Began writing. Reached 2.5K by 2:30, plus a lost ~1.4K (thanks new Write or Die web app. *glares*). This covered the first two scenes.
4:30am : Showered, read, played some games, now finally sleeping.
10:30am: Get up, goof off on my phone, eat a muffin, drink lots of water, set up for the next bit.
11:00am-11:30am: 1538 words courtesy of Write or Die.
11:30am-12:00pm: I hadn't left my room yet, so decided to take a bit of a longer break to stretch, refill my water bottle, etc.
12:05pm-12:35pm: Started sprinting with Nicole, got to 1559 words.
12:35pm-1:05pm: Break for chatting
1:05pm-1:35pm: 1577 words
1:35pm-3:00pm: Lunch break to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and recharge for a long sprint.
3:00pm-4:00pm: Long sprint! 3071 words. This pushed me over 10K
4:00pm-4:30pm: Break time!
4:30pm-5:00pm: 1327 (I took a 5 minute break during the sprint)
5:00pm-6:00pm: Tired set in. My internet was SUPER spotty which, in theory, would make me write more. But since I was using Write or Die's web app...not the case.
6:00pm-7:30pm: Laid down for a little bit. Accidentally fell asleep. Oops?
7:30pm-9:00pm: Tried writing. Internet went out for a bit again. Write 298 words
9:00pm-4:30am: Much tired. Kind of hungry? Baseball. Reading. Shower. More reading. There may have been an episode of Big Love in there.


4:30am-8:30am: Slept
8:30am-12:30pm: Continuously thought about getting up. Didn't.
12:30pm-1:00pm: Rolled around bed. Remembered I had a UPS package coming and thought I should be semi-presentable. Finally get up.
1:00pm-4:00pm: Package arrives! Baseball! Twitter! Trying to do work-ish!
4:00om-5:30pm: Run to the bank and Duane Reade. Buy ice cream. Eat ice cream.
5:30pm-6:30pm: 3316 words via Write or Die and Nicole. Cross 15K and 50 pages.
6:30pm-7:10pm: Goof off
7:10pm-8:05pm: Tried to stop at 8 with Nicole, but I was close enough to finishing a scene and she encouraged me to stay in it. 3111 words.
8:05pm-9:00pm: Goof off more. Talk about the book with Nicole. Do a little bit of work for one of my jobs.
9:00pm-10:00pm: 3307 words
10:00pm-1:00am: More goofing off. Play on twitter, watch Big Love, eat ice cream, play Kitchen Scramble. Realize how many cheerleaders I have and how excited people are for me. I've now crossed 20K and 75 pages. I've almost reached 10K for the day and still feel really good about things. I already know some of the work it needs, but I'm still itching to find CPs to send it out too.


1:00am-2:00am: Itching for 25K words, I wrote 3785 words, bringing me to 25,433 words and 90 pages. Wonder if so much typing has made me some kind of typing mutant. Nearly cry as I realize this might actually happen, I might actually finish a book. Debate trying to pass 30K before bed.
2:00am-5:00am: More goofing off. Reading. Showering.
5:00am-11:00am: Sleep
11:00am-12:30pm: Sort out my travel plans for getting back to my parents, goof around on twitter
12:30pm-1:30pm: 3181 words. Some water spillage slowed me down.
1:30pm-4:00m: I needed to eat lunch but kept putting it off with Facebook games and conversation. Finally made lunch and watched The Daily Show and The Colbert Report
4:00pm-5:00pm: 1740 words before I realized I was WAY too tired, but I wanted to pass 30K. Wait 25 minutes for Nicole to finish.
5:00pm-7:45pm: Napped
7:45pm-11:15pm: Listened to a baseball game, grabbed some dinner out so I would eat something that wasn't a PB&J sandwich, got really snarky.
11:15pm-11:45pm: 2052 courtesy of a sprint with John. Consider aiming for 40K for the night and definitely being 1/2 way through the book.
11:45pm-12:00am: Play around. Plot out next move.


12:00am-12:25am: 1318 words. Definitely slowing down.
12:25am-12:50am: I can FEEL 35K words and decide to go for it, despite the tired.
12:50am-1:35am: Waver between writing and playing on twitter and end up with 1497 words - bringing me to 35,228 in total.
1:35am-7:30am: Goofing off. Playing 2048. Showering. Reading really bad fanfic.
7:30am-2:30pm: Sleeeeeep
2:30pm-6:10pm: Ate, watched The Daily Show. Tried to wake myself up. Read more really bad fanfic.
6:10pm-7:10pm: VERY distracted word sprint. 2054 words.
7:10pm-11:15pm: Went out and got junk food. Consumed much junk food. Read more bad fanfic. Finally decided to write out the new plot bunny in my head that's really complex and taking up too much head space.
11:15pm-11:45pm: Sprinting with myself for 1473 words. I can't really maintain the long distance I'd been doing, but word speed is back on track. I also realize at this point I have to stop stressing about the point of view switching being well timed and perfect transitions. I just have to move on if I'm not sure how to blend perfectly - it's a rough draft for a reason.
11:45pm-12:00am: Take a break to write up this so I have the numbers. Drink water. Snack a little. Decide to join #writeclub for their next half hour sprint.


12:00am-12:30am: 1385, bringing me to 40,143 words



12:45am-2:15am: In a desperate rush to actually make this happen, I start writing again. I've realized the book is going to be MUCH shorter than I originally thought (as a first draft), and therefore still possible.  Write 5114 words, bringing me to 45,247.
2:15am-5:00am: Break to eat, shower, watch an episode of Secret Princes, and read a blog tour book.
5:00am-11:30am: Sleeeeeep
11:30am-1:30pm: Dentist shenanigans/driving
1:30pm-3:30pm: Brother wanted to watch Lego Movie/have snuggle time. As he's now 10, we NEVER SAY NO TO SNUGGLE TIME. Also lunch.
3:30pm-6:05pm: "I should be writing...wait let me check this real quick."
6:05pm-6:45pm: Write 1352 words. Words 1351 and 1352 are "THE END"

Originally, I'd estimated the book needing to be between 70K-80K. I was...really off on that, at least as far as first drafts go. The final word count on the first draft is 46,598. (If you try to add up everything I listed, it might not add up exactly to that since I would sometimes take the word counts I had, then as I was adjusting formatting from Write or Die, delete/add a word or two.) I already know a lot of areas where things need to be fleshed out more or developed more and there were some places where I just couldn't figure out a good transition, so I skipped it.

A lot of what I learned doing this was that first drafts need to be fast and messy, at least for me. I started writing when I was 9 and have only finished a couple short stories, a couple fanfics, and one other original project (my first NaNoWriMo in...2008? 2009?), in large part because I get stuck on imperfections. I see the mistakes and the issues and the plot holes coming up and find myself questioning every single thing instead of just writing. And you can't fix what's not there, so I try to make myself just finish the damned thing instead of going back and revising, but I'm too paralyzed to do that and then nothing happens.

But when I was writing this fast and so determined to just get it all down and win my self-made challenge, I couldn't worry about the issues. And in some cases, the issues worked themselves out as I wrote. A LOT of what I did came pretty organically. As I said, I only outlined 5 scenes. Very brief descriptions and I ended up stretching those into my first 20K. It was like nothing I've ever done before, not even in NaNo. I'm rarely a plotter/outliner, but just having those few things were a HUGE help and then I wanted to explore my world and my characters and could work from that.

I also learned that I want to do this again. It was occasionally exhausting emotionally/mentally, but...having finished...I feel pretty good. Maybe because I did take breaks to watch TV and read two books and live my life to some degree. It helped kick the exhaustion and keep me inspired instead. And I think writing a new book in between will help make editing work better. Hopefully. ;)

In the future, I would probably time myself better. Like you saw, I went 48 hours without writing because I was trying to sleep in my own bed as much as possible, then had to go back to my parents', was out and about a lot and spending time with them and enjoying a TV again and just had no desire to sit with my computer open since I can't write with them nearby. So maybe not letting travel/major amounts of errands overlap would be a good plan.

I'd also prepare more than 24 hours in advance. I ate a LOT of weird meals and junk food and slept all kinds of weird hours in the process. I didn't know much going into the story. Because of that, I never named a key character. Or the setting. I just avoided even trying and risking getting held up. I found out part way through that my main character was a woman of color. I also had this realization part way through about how things unraveled, but couldn't figure out a way to get it into the story.

And I 100% need need to but the Write or Die app as soon as possible. 98% of this manuscript was written in Write or Die on Kamikaze mode because I'm easily distracted and the internet in my apartment is unstable during the summer and the internet at my parents' house is technically stable, but not happy to work with me when ANYONE ELSE is also using the computer.

So...yeah. I learned a lot. I relaxed a lot more than I probably should have. But I'm going to do this again. Really, really soon. Because there's NO way it can happen again until next summer with classes, holidays, work, and repeat all fall and spring. (Although maybe I can sneak one in January...maybe.)



  1. You are amazingly awesome. I know you'll give me reasons to why you're not and why this isn't a big deal. But it is.

  2. So I so need to try this. maybe do a short story. I wrote one that was 32pgs a loooong time ago and This inspires me to go back and rework it to something longer.

    Off to scour your review section :)
    Where can we read your story?

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