I am about to embark on a rather ridiculous challenge, if I do say so myself. I’ve been trying to find something to sort of motivate me more than I already have been, and this is the way that I plan on doing that, as well as hopefully serve to inspire you in some way. I’m going to try and document this process here, and hopefully share some tips for you along the way.
The challenge is to write 12 books in 12 months. This idea came to me as I was thinking of a book for writers that I’d like to write. The book would be about time management, focus, and productivity for authors, and as I was thinking of good titles for such a book I thought having something like “How to Write 12 Books in 12 Months” would be a good way to draw people in. But then I realized, if I were to write such a book, I’d have to actually write 12 books in 12 months to prove these methods were effective!
Now, there are many authors that already write this much in a year. In fact, there are many that write a lot more. However, most of these people are probably going to be full-time authors. I am not a full-time author. Not yet. I work a full-time job as a member of a marketing team for a higher-ed organization. So all of my writing is done in the hours before work, during my lunch break, or after work. I typically get about 2 writing hours per day, though I could probably work in a third if I spent less time watching television.
So let’s discuss the ground rules. First of all, how long are these books going to be. I currently have 2 series in the works, my Roots of Creation series (YA Epic Fantasy) and my Alice: The Last Founder (Urban Fantasy). The former tends to hover around 75,000 words each, while the latter averages around 45,000 words each. And the general consensus for what constitutes a novel is anything over 40,000 words. In those two series I have yet to write five books of the Roots of Creation series, and 6 books of the Alice: The Last Founder series. That’s 11 of my 12 books right there. For the 12th book, I’d like to write a non-fiction book about how to start out as an author. In that book I will document my experience as a recent first-time author, and tell you all of the techniques that made it work. This book will be a bit shorter at around 30,000 words, which is not unusual for non-fiction books of this type. All together, these books will have an estimated word count of 675,000 words. Again, I know a number of authors that write upwards of 1,000,000 words per year, but they are full-time writers.
This project will start on Monday, October 1st, and I must complete my first draft of the 12th book by the end of the day on September 30th, 2019. That’s the next ground rule. I don’t have to write one book per month, as some will take longer than others, but they must average out to one book a month. The third ground rule is that a novel counts as “finished” once I’ve completed a first draft. This will not include all the editing that follows the initial writing.
Now, I’ve actually written a book in one month before. In fact, I’ve written several in that time if you count up all the days I actually wrote. Those days weren’t always right next to each other, however. Sometimes it would take me a few months to finish a book, even though the number of actual days spent writing probably totaled to around 25-30. But I have already written 5 books, and so I have an idea of what I’m capable of doing.
So here’s my schedule:
I will write approximately 3,000 words per day, which is already about what I do. I’ve scheduled the books out so that I don’t have to write on Saturdays if I stick to the prescribed schedule. However, I do plan on working on Saturdays. These will be days when I’ll assess where I’m at, and work on what is needed at the time. This may be more writing if I’ve lagged behind a bit. But it might also be other things. Remember, I’m only writing the first draft each month. I will still need to do editing of the previous book and outlining of the next book while I’m working on the current book. Saturdays will be prime time for that, and I will also find some time in the evenings to work on that stuff as well.
So at 3,000 words per day, I can finish a first draft of the 75,000 word books in approximately 5 weeks, not including weekends. For the 45,000 word books, I can do it in 3 weeks. For the non-fiction book, I can do that in 2. Also I am allowing myself some non-writing time. This is partially for my mental health, but also because I’m getting married in February and I already know that I will not be writing during our honeymoon. I’m not even going to try and pressure myself to do that. It’s going to be a busy time, and I have to account for that.
As I’ve currently scheduled it, this means I’ll finish all 12 books in 12 months, with an allotted 5 weeks of wedding/vacation time, and 2 weeks of a buffer, for when things inevitably don’t go as planned.
So to sum up, I’m going to write 12 books in 12 months, for a total of 675,000 words, while working a full-time job and getting married in February. Sounds completely doable, right? I’ll also update you regularly here, and give you some of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned enhance productivity and avoid things like burnout.
By the end of this challenge I hope to begin writing that book on productivity, explaining the principles I’ll be using to keep myself on task for these 12 months. I look forward to this fantastically crazy and exciting journey, and hope you will take it with me.