How to Write a Book in Five Minutes a Day

I know novels seem like HUGE projects, but they’re truly not–if approached correctly. Last week I showed you some graphs showing how much you could write in a given period of time. You should check it out, because it shows just how productive your writing could be if you really gave it a chance. Today, though I want to talk about the exact opposite.

I want to talk about how little you can write, and still be productive. Since some of us don’t work well in groups, and others simply don’t want to, it seemed worthwhile to talk about writing in small bites. This might not fit you any better than the binge-writing described in its companion article, but . . . well, let’s just look at it, shall we? I went into my reasoning between the numbers in the other article, so I’m just going to give them here. If you want to know why you have to read the other one.

How Long is a Book?

A book is almost always between 60,000 and 120,000 words long. Most come in between 80-100,000 words.

How Fast Can We Type?

An average typing speed of 60 words per minute (WPM) seems reasonable. If you type much slower than that, but want to make a living writing, you should probably practice more.

What Does This Mean?

Well, it means that we can type three hundred (300) words in five minutes. So we do a little math . . .

. . . And we see that, in a year, we have time to 109,500 words.

109,500 words!

Now, that’s not a finished work, probably, that’s a draft. But that’s also a finished draft. Once you’ve done that you aren’t “writing” a book, you’re not an “aspiring” writer. You are a writer. You have written a book. You’ve crossed a line that can’t be uncrossed, and few of your fellows ever reach.

I could stop writing right here. We’ve done the math, we’ve proven it’s possible, but that would feel like laziness to me. What I’ve done for you is put together an actual PDF plan that fits an entire novel into a year.

What’s In the Plan?

Your novel doesn’t need to be 109,500 words long, so we’re going to aim for 84,000 words. Given our assumed average pace of 300 words in five minutes, that’s 280 days of book writing. That leaves 85 days free for the other critical pieces of a book.

  • Initial Plotting
  • Characterization
  • Plot Outlining
  • Revisions
  • Editing

I know a lot of people don’t like to outline. I don’t really, either, but I do it because I write for a living and it saves gobs of time. What’s more, since you’re taking such small bites, you need to plan out where each one is going to be, or your going to have to . . . spit them out and chew them again, I guess? This metaphor didn’t really work out. Which is exactly the sort of snafu good outlining avoids.

See how I turned that around? Listen to me folks, I’m smartish.

Alright, here’s your plan. If you stick to this plan, you will have a probably  passable (according to your own abilities) and definitely complete novel a year from today.

Stick With It

Sprints are good, but a nice ambling sort of jog is what really gets you places. Commit five minutes, every day, to this, and you’ll cross that line.

The 5-365-1 Book Writing Plan

So here it is, the 5 x 365 = 1 Book Writing Plan!

It’s very much a work in progress. I wrote it today (which will be yesterday when this posts), and I only had about two hours to spare. So there may be some errors, and there may be later updates. If anyone wants to provide feedback on the general theory of the thing, I would really appreciate it. The document includes spreadsheets for tracking your progress, a rigid schedule, explanations for each of the steps, and so on.

The idea is, even if you don’t follow it exactly, you gain a sense of the right organizing principles for efficiently writing a book. You could, for example, take these same principles, dedicate an hour a day, and be done with your first draft in about two weeks. It’s the principle of taking the monumental task of novel writing and applying organization and priorities which will allow you to Get. Things. Done.

I really hope people like this,


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