Can You Write a Book in a Week?
Distractions, particularly digital ones, lie around every corner. Every writer has their own very personal set of writing goals and routines, and I find it very hard to write in the house – even if I’m completely alone. When the internet is there, singing its siren song, I’m never completely alone…
While I recognise how different we all are in our writing techniques, I’ll normally consider 1,000 words in a day to be my average, if I feel like I have something to say, and 4,000 words in a day to be very good indeed. The only way I can bring myself to truly write is with complete privacy, and if I allow myself this, something remarkable happens… I can write 70,000 words in a week.
Good words. Words that make sense. Not just “All work and no play make Jill a dull girl” written 700 times.
They need rewriting, of course. Sometimes a huge purge is required, a razing of tens of thousand of words to the ground. They’ll need refining and re-arranging… but with this method, which I’ve tried successfully three times now, I can write a first draft in a single week.
I’d love to share it with my fellow writers. Who knows? It may turn out to work for you, too!
STEP ONE: HIRE A HOLIDAY COTTAGE FOR A WEEK
No amount of privacy at home feels like true privacy to me if the internet’s around. Disconnecting it temporarily or trying all those bits of clever software doesn’t work for me. I have to be where the internet is not. So, when I can afford it and have the time, at least once a year I try to book a holiday cottage for a writing week. The idea that I am paying real money to write sharpens my intent wonderfully. If there’s WiFi access in the cottage I make a point of not enquiring about connection. What I don’t know can’t hurt me.
The only things I require from the cottage are: A curry takeaway facility (because otherwise it’s game over), a beautiful view that I will never explore, a writing desk and a chair.
STEP TWO: DON’T BREAK THE RULES
My rules were:
1) Start writing by 9am.
2) You haven’t finished for the day until you’ve written 7-10,000 words.
3) Writer’s block does not exist.
Just three rules, but coupled with the splendidly sharp focus that spending money you don’t have on a week away can bring, you will, I am sure, get results. I have never yet, in twenty-one days of doing this, broken these rules.
I have had moments of blank-mind panic, and cups of coffee that lasted longer than strictly necessary, but I never stopped writing to such a degree that I didn’t hit my daily word quota. When I’ve had doubts then, to quote Chandler, a man walks into a room with a smoking gun. A couple of chapters down the line and you’ll be pretty sure why he did it.
At home, the world exists. People exist. Job hunting and the internet exists. In this wonderful bubble of exile, the only things to exist are the next cup of coffee, the next meal and the next word.
Because these rules are ones I’ve chosen for myself, because there are no distractions, somehow I manage to achieve them. I am not one of nature’s achievers… yet, in three writing holidays, I have never yet failed to write 70,000 words of solid first draft material as a result.
Also, it turns out that the internet doesn’t fall over when I’m away. It’s still waiting for me, along with love and family and work and all the joys and burdens that a daily lifestyle brings.
If you get the opportunity, please do try the method and let me know; I’d love to hear if it worked for you. As the Co-founding Editor of Mookychick.co.uk, a wonderful feminist website and community for alternative girls and women, I can be reached at any time at editor @ mookychick.co.uk
And, if you are planning to write but in need of a distraction, Mookychick Online is always on the look-out for feminist journalists…