It’s not impossible to write a good manuscript in a month. In fact, I know many authors who have done it. A great example is Nora Roberts, aka J.D. Robb.
Another is Dame Barbara Cartland. Once of the most prolific authors in history, she used to write a book per week.
Are you wondering if those books were any good? Look, there have been excellent and poor books regardless of whether they took 30 years or 30 days to write.
Plus, I admit it’s not likely that something you penned down in 30 days will be fully formed and ready for publication. That’s a matter of practice, skill and editing.
But you can’t get down to edits and rewrites if you don’t have the initial manuscript to begin with. And that’s what you can expect to be ready in 30 days.
Can’t find the time or inspiration to write? Read this post on how to overcome these barriers. Once you’re done, here are the 5 secrets you should know to quickly draft your first novel.
#1. Put The Subplots On Hold
Depending on your level of master and style of writing, work on getting out a quick version of your novel, in which the subplots can be added later.
For most of us, it’s better to just focus on the main characters and plotline at first, rushing to the end. Don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
If you’re worried about forgetting the subplots that come into your mind, just make a note of all you’d like to consider during revision. And continue with the main story.
So you’ll know exactly what subplots you want to add and where, but won’t waste precious time and energy working on them just yet.
It’s not wise to start with subplots right away. This is because when you finish the first draft and working on rewrites, subplots are the first to be changed or removed.
Once you have finished the first main draft, you’d be easily able to notice where things aren’t making sense, where the pacing is slow, which characters need edits and what information is to be added.
Giving to much time to subplots in the beginning is a waste because as your main plot will progress, subplots will require even more changes in settings, characters, motives and transitions.
Although you’re in charge of your novel, and it’s ultimately up to what you think is best, but try not wasting time on subplots unless really necessary. It’s okay to forgo them for the sake of finishing the first draft.
#2. Keep Your Self-Esteem Properly Fed
Many people find it hard to keep up with their writing plans. And then they either guilt themselves into writing, or feel bad about themselves for not writing.
Feelings of regret and shame have never helped anyone feel good about themselves. And positivity is one trait you really need to finish your novel in 30 days.
Positive self esteem enables you to set goals and stick to them. It allows you to make time for doing what’s matters to you.
It’s only when you realize that you matter, you’ll understand that your goals matter too. And you should defend them from distractions.
It’s nice to be dedicated to others, but you gotta look after your needs as well. If you identify with one or more of the following statements, you need to feed your self-esteem.
- I always blame myself for not writing enough.
- Criticism of my work feels like criticism of me.
- I have ambitious writing goals, but it’s hard to get started or follow through.
- I want to write more but I don’t have a choice.
- I blame someone or something for not writing.
- Instead of writing, I do what others want despite not wanting to.
- I don’t say no to others and express my writing goals.
- I give up at the first sign of rejection.
If that’s you, it’s important to give yourself a self-esteem boost asap. Focus on your strengths. Stay away from negative people. You may also want to keep what you write to yourself for the first few weeks.
Once you have finished the first draft and you’re satisfied with it, you can start listening and sorting through the feedback from others.
Understand that you have the right to have your own writing time. Stand up for yourself and what really matters to you.
#3. Keep Moving Forward
Keep writing and moving on with the story. Don’t stop to rewrite whenever you change your mind about a character, scene or plot. Stay on the task.
Instead of rewriting there and then, you can take notes of the changes you want to do later. As you come up with new directions or ideas, just jot them down for now and keep writing.
This is because it’s impossible to do the writing and rewriting at the same time if you want to finish your novel in a month.
All the ideas that you come up with in the process of writing will not take up valuable space in your mind if you just take note of them and keep going. So you’ll free to generate even more ideas, and get the pages done.
Let’s say you want to change the name and occupation of a character while you’re in the middle of writing. Instead of going back and editing every page which refers to the character’s name and occupation, just take a note of what is to be done when you finish the draft.
For the portion that you have not yet written, just do the obvious. Use the new name and occupation that you’ve come up with.
Likewise, if you want to change a character’s background and personality, take a note of the new settings and any changes you would want to make in others’ reaction towards that character because of this new personality … issues to address later when you’re revising.
Or let’s say you’re writing a scene and suddenly realize that the scene only makes sense if there was a fight between two characters in the previous chapter. No worries. Take a note of it.
Think about it. If you suddenly shifted gears and started writing the fight scene now, you’ll get sidetracked and lose the momentum on what you have been writing so far.
So just keep your notes organized in a neat manner and keep going forward.
#4. Embrace Reality
Let’s face it. You’ll have to be realistic. If you’re someone who works two jobs, who has too many kids to take care of, or who is bogged down with health issues, it’s foolish to force yourself to finish a novel in 30 days.
Instead, set a goal to complete the story synopsis – an unstructured outline of sorts. Work on a beginning, middle and end. Develop characters and their motives. Write opening lines and hooks. Write anything and as much as you can in the month.
As long as you’re gentle on your yourself, creativity juices will keep flowing. Set an ambitious, unrealistic goal and your creative blocks will get stronger and more difficult.
When you get too upset about delays and setbacks, a bad hour or day can easily turn into more. Finally, this may lead to a creative dread and giving up the journey altogether.
If you couldn’t write on a given hour or day, brush it off and make the most of the time you have left. Stay positive.
#5. Believe In Yourself & The Process
One reason many people don’t accomplish their goals is devaluing their capacity to tackle whatever challenges may surface along the way.
Having faith in yourself and your approach is the best gift you can give yourself. When you trust yourself to handle whatever comes up, the anxiety goes away.
For example, it’s easy to get bogged down by the thought of what if the manuscript you write isn’t any good. Highly unlikely. Even if it’s really bad, you can work on edits and rewrites.
What if you get rejected? It’s okay. Don’t see your novel as a reflection of yourself. Trust yourself to deal with rejection, accept feedback gracefully, and make changes as required.
What if you don’t finish in 30 days? Have faith that you’ll take an honest look at the reasons why this happened and make adjustments instead of beating yourself over it.
Have faith and start writing. What’s the worst that can happen? You won’t finish in 30 days. But may be you will in a few more days or weeks. It’s not a matter of life and death. Relax!
The source of most writing blocks is lack of trust in yourself, which breeds fear, anxiety, guilt, anger and several other bad emotions. Each day is another chance to start fresh and make a difference.
We all have lives to lead and things to do other than writing. Sometimes they can mess up with our writing time. But what matters is what you did with the entire month, not what you couldn’t over a day or two. Take the pressure off.
Time To Get Started
You’ve set out to do the thing few people risk doing – achieving their dream. At the end of 30 days, you may not have a perfect novel, but you’ll have a completed manuscript.
Many have done it before you. So no more excuses and no more stalling. Commit to writing and visualize how’d feel with a finished manuscript, way ahead of others who keep on dreaming but take no action.