East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Five Days Novel – I can’t do it, but…

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Based on my current wordcount (32.000), it is plain to see that I cannot write and edit a novel, from conception to finished draft, in five days. Granted, I had a few time-wasting accidents along the way, and will end up with a solid fill-length novella, still needing a thorough review.
But 50.000-words worth of novel ready for upload on Amazon in 5 days?

For me, the limit for that sort of feat is seven days, and in this I find myself more in line with Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing a Novel in Seven Days. One full week is more my sort of thing – five days are too tight if you can’t fully isolate from the outer world.

But while more hangups loom over the weekend (including a deadline for a submission I want to hit), crippling the final mile of my marathon, there are still a few takeaways from the whole experience, and this is good. Let’s see…

  • Pacing is everything – and I do not mean pacing on the page, but in the work. Observing the right pauses, taking a short walk once every hour, drinking plenty of water and eating a decent meal, are essential.
  • Trust the process – this is the most important “strictly writing” point of the whole experiment. If you have all the pieces in place – a simple outline, a solid list of characters, a good theme and three ideas to rub together to fire the plot, the story will take care of itself. Characters will provide incidents and depth when needed, and events will unfold logically.
  • Scrivener helps – working in blocks, with the ability to arrange them later with a minimum of fuss, is precious. When the basic plan is to put as many words as possible on the page, stopping is not an option. Get stuck midway through chapter four? Drop it and go on to chapter five, or six. Of course Scrivener is not the only software that allows you to do this, but it’s the one I use.
  • Find someone that will cook for you, and turn off the web – as I mentioned above, isolation is essential. In these four days this far I was involved in a lengthy (and quite interesting!) discussion online, I recorder an episode of my podcast, I revised a story for publishing and submitted another, and took an interview. There is just so much you can do before or after writing hours without getting derailed.
  • … but do not turn off the web! – because it’s still the best research and documentation tool out there.

So, now what?
Now I will keep writing, aiming at a solid 35.000 words novella in 5 days instead of a lousy 50.000 words novel.
It is a matter of choice.
So, expect more updates.

Will I try it again?
Well, why not?

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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