I’ve always wanted to say, ‘I wrote a book last week’, and now I can. It’s not pretty but I have a completed first draft of my WIP and it took exactly seven days to write.
The good thing is you can do it, too. It just takes a little practice, a lot of planning, and the right gear. That the gear can include anything from a hiking pack to a sun lounge on a tropical island is a bonus.
Don’t get me wrong, writing is hard work, however you go about it. But there are ways of making it easier. My days of forcing myself to sit at my desk until my daily word count is done are over.
No more guilt trips, cleaning bathrooms with toothbrushes, or lack of time excuses. By the end of my novel-in-a-week week I could easily achieve 7k words in an hour. Break that down, and a spare ten minutes gives me, well, a lot more words in a lot less time.
Over the week I learnt a lot about myself and put in place a few tricks to get myself writing. I also learnt that storytelling is a far more natural way of getting a story onto the page than writing it out.
Being able to throw myself into the emotions of my story was fun. I call it getting the tone right. My animals just think I’m nuts.
So here goes, in case you want to have a little fun with your writing, too…
1. Know thyself
I own a few books about writing fast, I’ve interviewed prolific writers, and I’ve written a lot, but if it’s a glorious day there’s no way I’m hanging around inside to work. I’d rather be out walking the dogs.
2. I like writing with pen and paper
I always carry my notebook because I like writing with a pen and paper. The beauty is now I can start my scene with pen and paper, then read it into my Voice Recorder Pro and keep going. I’ve learnt it’s a good trick to get me started. Yep, hitting the ‘record’ button is as daunting as staring at a blank page.
3. I do my best writing in my head
I do my best writing in my head and I’ve always found that when I finally coerced myself to start writing, I forgotten half the good bits. I blame the dogs.
Nowadays, I use my iPhone with a Voice Recorder Pro app, and when I get home from whatever adventure I’ve dreamed up I airdrop my recordings from my phone to my computer, hit transcribe on Dragon Dictation 15 individual for Macs, and voila.
Easy, huh? Not so fast…
I did a lot of research and fiddling – and spent a few dollars – before I settled on my iPhone Voice Recorder Pro and I haven’t even started on mics.
First, I used the mic on my phone. Gobbledygook. Then, I bought a Rode Lapel mic. Better.
Now I have my new toy, a fancy Rode HS26, made for energetic types, such as aerobic instructors. It might be a bit of overkill for me and my dogs but if you’ve ever walked two Jack Russells who insist on peeing on separate sides of the footpath then you’ll know it can be a bit of a workout.
Tip: I could have saved a few dollars if I’d brought this straight up but I didn’t know if I was going to like Dragon Dictation and I wasn’t cashed up. My lapel mic cost $100, HS26 $300.
The advantage of the HS mic is it will sit on my head and I can forget it. I was always fiddling with the lapel mic. I think it had something to do with the fact that I always wore it on my T-shirt.
What I’m not telling you about is all the false starts, the lost recordings, the gobbledygook because I had the wrong mic, or worse, after several successes I got cocky and dictated a whole chapter, only to find it didn’t work because I left the cover on my iPhone and the mic didn’t connect to the iPhone.
Tip: always check your gear.
4. A novel in a week? It’s all in the planning
I’m writing a series, three novellas, and I’ve been procrastinating about these for what seems like forever. I’ve lived with my characters and settings, and even had draft covers designed.
It was time to get serious.
My novel-writing-in-a-week took place anywhere from on my veranda drinking my morning Milo with the cat, to my local parklands and beyond. Each day after my cuppa (and several thousand words) I packed the dogs, chair, notebook, phone and mic, and headed off on my adventures.
TIP: You are not bludging if it takes all day to complete an hour’s writing. By the end of the week I could dictate 7k words in an hour, so what about the rest of the time?
It’s almost too easy to write 1k to 1.5 words in 15 to 20 minutes, then what? Resist the urge to keep going just because you can. The last thing you want to do is get ahead of your own story.
Dictating in short bursts is a good thing. By the end of the week I could dictate 3k words in half an hour. This, for me, is a scene, and writing a novel scene by scene was a natural rhythm to fall into. I’m guessing as I get better, I’ll extend this.
Tip: it’s not easy until it is…
I always jot down the sentence or quick paragraph to come back to…it’s a hangover from the good old days where the advice was to stop at a point where it was easy to pick up the next day.
This trick is what has allowed me to write a novel in the week. This, plus my subconscious. I trust it implicitly.
Your subconscious is your friend. It knows better than you what comes next in your story. Always.
5. The commands I use
You don’t need a lot to get you started. I mostly use ‘new line, full stop, open quote, close quote, and comma’. When I start to get them muddled I know it’s time to take a break.
Tip: dictating allows you to throw yourself into your story. I admit I find people in my park avert their gazes and give me a wide berth for the most part. But it’s worth it. Talking in “tone” is fun and it gives my writing a freshness it lacked when I sat at my computer.
Tip: remember the days when we clung to the idea that pen and paper was better than typing, but heck, now we couldn’t imagine not typing our stories. I’m fast approaching a space where I can’t imagine not talking my stories and I’m already researching the link between oral story telling and creativity. Watch this space.
I’ve heard it said we read differently than we hear things, and that this should be reflected in our writing. I wonder. We’re wired for storytelling, not writing, and now we have the technology…
6. Thinking time is important
If I’d charged on and dictated two hours straight, first I’d been exhausted and hated it, but more importantly, I wouldn’t have had time to think. Taking breaks between sessions gives you time to mull stuff over.
Did I mention a Facebook group? You can request to join here.
And my inspiration? My chat with prolific Indie author, Bella Andre, here. She doesn’t use dictation – well, I don’t think she does – but I wanna grow up like her, anyway, which means I have to start writing more books.
Which brings me to my podcast chat with Christian White, who reminded why I’m a writer in the first place. You can listen in, here.
I love having my freedom back. I’ve always written my stories, in my head and now I found a way to get them onto the page. I have choices about how and where I write, and when.
Oh, and I have a small confession to make. My novel in a week project was really only six days. We may have taken a day off to go to the beach.
I blame the dogs.