Can you write a book in a month?

Let’s talk about you.

You’ve got an idea for a book. You read a lot and you’re pretty sure it’s a good idea. You may have even started writing it and gotten bogged down by the sheer enormity of finishing it.

But you probably have a real job. On top of that, there’s your family, job, church, kids, hobbies, all sorts of things demanding your time and attention.

It’s not like you can simply drop everything and head for that classical drafty garret to sequester yourself until you finish writing it. (Even if you can find one—garrets aren’t big in architecture these days.) And on top of that, there are the realities of publishing.

The average advance for a novelist is less than five thousand dollars a year. It takes from a year to eighteen months for a manuscript to be published by most major publishers. Most publishers do not want to bring out more than one book each year from a particular writer.

Can you live for a year on five thousand dollars?

So, given those facts, you’ve probably got two problems:

  • That whole real job and real life thing
  • You can’t live on what publishing is going to pay you.

How are you supposed to make a living as a novelist? Is there any way to make your dream come true?

Couple of ways: first, you can work your butt off on PR and sell a lot of books. That’ll result in an increase in your next advance.

You hope. But you have no control over that part of the equation.

Second, you can sell more than one book a year.  Using a few pseudonyms, a different name for each publisher, you can generate enough income to go full time.

I usually write six to seven books a year. Write and sell, or publish through one of the imprints I run. It’s very possible for anyone to do this. Naturally, if you don’t have all the real job/family/kids/dogs stuff, it’s easier. But even a part timer should be able to polish off two manuscripts a year.

In this book, I’m going to show you how to do just that. This isn’t an elegant dissertation on the sheer joy of writing. It’s not a personal essay. It’s the down and dirty of how to write a book in a month.

I should warn you ahead of time that we’ll be spending zero time on your precious inner child.

I know this way works. It’s how I do it. It’s how I teach it.

Think it’s impossible? Let’s do a little math.


The Math

How long is a novel? Come on, you’ve got to know this one. If you don’t know, you need to drop back ten yards and do your homework. You’re not ready to write, not by a long shot.

No, do not talk to me about pages. Nobody cares how many pages you’ve typed. Nobody.

WORDS. How many WORDS?

Talking about ms pages (you do know ms is short for manuscript, right?) simply brands you as a novice. So does asking whether headers count. Or page numbers. Or the title.

Just run the danged word count function in your word processor and round it off to the nearest hundred. Or thousand. That’s way close enough for novels.

Let’s assume that novels in your genre run 80,000 words.

Now, how fast can you type? Let’s assume you’re slow for a writer. Call it fifty words a minute.

            80,000 words.  50 words a minute.

            80,000 ÷50 = 1600 minutes

            1600 minutes ÷ 60 = 26.67 hours.

            26.67 hours ÷ 30 (30 days in a month) = .89 hours.

You need to type .89 hours (or 54.3 minutes) each day. That’s how you do a novel a month.

But WAIT. Is that all it is, typing?


Sometimes. If you’ve done the hard work up front.


Seriously? It’s that easy? So why haven’t I been able to finish my book?

Three possible reasons:

  • You’ve been taught wrong,
  • You’re undisciplined
  • You have no idea how real writers work.

Sorry. That’s reality. See disclaimer above about precious inner children.

You can’t waste time, not if you’re going to generate income. Not if you want to finish a book in a month.

Now, actually, we’re not going to be typing for 30 days. We need a few days up front to do the groundwork. So if you average it out, you will be typing around an hour a day.

The up front work is hard. It’s not always fun. It’s entirely worthwhile. It’s what distinguishes the novice from the pro.

The essence of BAM is getting a first draft done. If you’re relatively new at writing novels, you need somewhere to start and a way to arrange the pieces. That’s what BAM gives you.

Let’s get started. We’re going to do the hard stuff first. It gets nothing but easier from here on out.


BAM Overview

The essence of BAM is planning. It’s not complicated but it is hard, at least at first, and it’s only hard because it isn’t fun. But once you see how easy it makes the actual writing and how the planning frees you up, you’ll love it.

Now, on to your book. (Another aside here, sort of an apology. I keep referring to it as “your book”. It’s really not. It’s your story and it’s going to be your manuscript, but it ain’t a book until it’s published. While we’re on the subject of pet peeves—you don’t publish. You are published by. Unless you’re actually a publisher. Back to your story.)

If you’re really a writer, ideas are the least of your worries. You’ve probably got more potential plot lines than you’ll ever be able to write, yes? Thought so.

Here’s an overview of how I do it and how BAM works. Once I’ve picked out the idea, I:

  • Develop a rough logline, fleshing out my story and protagonist.
  • Work out end-of-act fly-to points.
  • Rework the logline.
  • Set up a Word document outline for the chapters.
  • Draft 48 potential scenes.
  • Write.
  • Rewrite three times.

Used to be, I would write my first drafts very quickly, like in about ten days. I used to write 10-15,000 words a day in first draft, doing massive chunks of prose, working with my plan, and then rest for a couple of days before rewriting.

These days, publishing and running a nonprofit corporation takes up a lot of my time. I’m back down to around 5,000 words a day during rough draft, but that’s still pretty respectable.

I type at least 100 words a minute. That’s fifty minutes a day. Even at my slower rate, I can still do a novel in thirty days.

Now, certainly, sometimes rewrites can extend that time. But honestly, if you have a solid first draft, well-structured and planned, the rewrites are much easier. You don’t waste time flailing about fixing problems that easily could have been avoided.

So let’s get to work. Before we can start on your logline, we need to talk about your story.

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