There’s something deliciously thrilling about slamming a thick stack of papers on the table and saying, “I wrote this novel in one month!” By this point, your grin is rivaling the Cheshire Cat’s and your satisfaction (and, yes, a bit of smugness) is well earned.
In your hands is the story of a world that didn’t even exist last month, but now it does because you wrote with fierce dedication for the last 30 days.
But if you’re not quite there yet, you may find yourself wondering exactly how to write a novel in a month?
Holding your completed novel comes with a specific sort of thrill — it’s proof that magic exists.
But is it possible to write a novel in a month?
Or is this one of those challenges for people with infinite leisurely days — or who never need sleep? (AKA vampires. Maybe vampires invented this concept. We have our suspicions.)
Is It Possible to Write a Novel In a Month?
Writing a novel is often a slow and ponderous process. But there are infinite ways to draft your story. And if you’re committed to writing a novel in a month, it’s definitely possible!
Slow writers exist (George RR Martin writes only a few pages per day) and fast writers exist (Stephen King apparently writes 2,000 words every day). Both methods can produce novels that make a cultural impact on society.
You have to find what works for you. But if you’ve never written a novel in a short amount of time, how do you know it isn’t your perfect process? Being an author is about experimenting with different processes.
Writing can be daunting. As they say “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it”.
It doesn’t need to be easy: it just needs to be possible. And once you start breaking down the process into manageable steps that have been proven successful, writing a novel in a month is less of a fanciful concept.
Anyone can write a novel in a month. You just need to decide to do it, stick with your decision and have a story to tell. Oh, and probably stockpile some coffee. You’ll want that later.
What Is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo an initiative that encourages authors to write 50,000-words in a month.
50,000-words is technically a novel-length and perfect for a first draft, which is arguably still messy and in its raw stages, even after you type “the end” for the first round.
Fast drafting a novel is about making it exist, not making it perfect. Editing comes later.
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and you can sign up on their website to log in your daily word count all through November.
It also has forums to exchange craft tips, writing buddies to connect with, and you get stickers for milestones. Stickers are so motivating, don’t knock this.
Of course, you can choose any month of the year to write your novel, but the comradery of NaNoWriMo is exciting.
The important part is this: get your novel finished no matter what.
How To Make Time To Write
Now that you’ve pledged to write a novel in a month, you have to find the time to do it between school or a full-time job or raising a family or the thousand other things that make up our busy everyday lives.
Time isn’t going to magically appear. You do have to hoard it like a priceless treasure.
Try setting aside some sacred hours for writing. You will have to give things up to fit it all in, but don’t be too tough on yourself.
Writing isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to be torture!
You need to exercise discipline if you want to hit your daily target word count to make the 1-month goal. So take into account how fast you write and how many hours you need.
Carve space in your day. Or night! Writers are notorious night-owls.
I personally enjoy writing in the mornings, but usually night is when I have uninterrupted hours.
Figure out when you work best, but also when it’s most practical for you to work. (After work hours? When the kids are in bed?)
If you’ve got more time on the weekends, write a bit extra to pick up any slack that might happen on the weekdays.
5 Tips For Writing Your Novel In One Month
1. Outline Your Novel
Sitting down in front of a blank screen to write with only a vague story idea and a looming deadline is a great way to terrify yourself into writer’s block. If you want to write fast but purposefully, you need to go in with a plan.
Writer’s block not only sucks, but it’s also a real time-waster. And you’re already trying to pack in a lot of words in a short amount of time.
So before Day 1 rolls around in your quest to write this novel, do some prep. It doesn’t have to be an intense outline if you naturally shy away from them. But give yourself a bullet point list of scenes to hit.
Figure out how the books ends.
Brainstorm the first sentence so you don’t get stuck on that when you go to write.
Develop your characters ahead of time so you’re familiar with how they’ll respond to whatever you throw at them throughout the plot.
One of my
If you can’t craft a few juicy paragraphs that will pitch your novel in an exciting way, chances are you need more hooks and twists in your plot! Knowing that before you launch into writing the actual novel can save you so much time in edits.
But whether you have a 10,000-word outline (this is what I do!) or a simple 3-paragraph pitch or a bullet list of scenes and character qualities – make sure you have an attack plan. This will keep you moving forward.
2. Set A Daily Word Count Goal
Time to do some maths! If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and aiming for that 50,000 words in a month, you only need to write 1,667 words per day. And honestly? That’s not much.
If you think your novel will be meatier than that, adjust your word count to fit. Know how much you need to write each day so that each writing session is purposeful and focused.
Log your process!
I keep a calendar with my daily word count jotted down so I have a visual representation of my progress.
It’s both encouraging and motivating! Plus the log tells you if you need to catch up one day, or if you can dial back on a weekend and take that coveted afternoon nap.
3. Remove Distractions
As tempting as it is to tweet about writing, it isn’t increasing the word count in your book.
Some people recommend disconnecting your WiFi to avoid distractions, but it depends on how strict you can be on yourself.
I like to have the internet at the ready in case I need to look something up (or name a character; names are so hard?!). I also allow myself to timed social media breaks. A 1-hour writing =
But the important part is: focus. If you can’t focus with the temptation of your phone nearby, remove it.
The hardest part of writing is often starting. You’re not in the zone yet, your brain is buzzing, you got a text.
But once you pair down the distractions and get immersed in your book, you’ll find the words will come faster.
Get into the flow. Find your rhythm.
If distractions can’t be removed (voices in the next room, a dog barking, neighbors are playing loud music) try wearing noise-canceling headphones or taking your laptop to a library to write.
Treasure your writing time, especially if you don’t have much, and mentally prioritize your book.
4. Write Without Writing
I can see you raising an eyebrow at this one, but hear me out: some of my best writing is done far away from my laptop. I personally work best in short writing sessions with lots of physical activity.
If my body moves, my brain moves. Often times I’ll be stuck in a scene and if I get up for a glass of water, that short
I’ll return (probably without the water because I just forgot it) with a new idea for a scene and excitement to write it.
If you can’t focus on writing for hours straight, don’t force yourself! Writing is frustrating enough without added pressure.
Take a walk, plan out your chapter, and then come home and write victoriously. Write smart.
5. Edit Later
When writing a fast-draft, don’t think about editing. The point of this draft is to exist, in all its ugly and lumpy glory.
You want a book you can hone and polish later, you want a draft that is full of raw potential.
So yes there are typos and that last scene was superfluous and you only got the hang of your narrator’s voice after 10,000 words. That’s fine. Turn off your inner editor (smother that voice, it’s okay).
Your job is to write the story that’s on your heart and pour all your passion into it.
Ready to Start Writing?
Write a book that deserves to be written.
Plan. Focus. Drink water. Edit later. Make magic.
About the Author
CG Drews is a YA book blogger with the goal to read every book in existence. She’s aiming for immortality for this. When not reading, she writes novels and blogs at paperfury.com.