On Writing,  publishing

Chapter Two: Writing a Novel in Five Days While Traveling



Third day of traveling and I will be starting the novel tomorrow. So doing these introduction and preparation chapters first for the nonfiction book as I go along. A sort of writing travel book. Sort of.

Travel Today…

I have my computer set up just fine where it will sit for the next five days.

And today was a much easier drive than the previous two days by a long ways. I left Fresno, CA around 11 a.m. and was in this suite in Las Vegas before 6 p.m.

I went out for dinner by 7 p.m., then a long walk to do some research for a friend (not for the coming book), then did the workshop assignments I needed to do for the rest of the night.

So now I am ready to start writing fiction tomorrow.

Again, I do not have a clue what the book will be about. But let me give a few more hints about getting ready to do something like this. And a couple of warnings if you are thinking of a challenge like this.

Hint #1… Attitude is everything. Once I decided to try this, I started working on my attitude. Positive attitude.

Every time a negative thought or worry crept in over the last four or five days, I would go back to the basics. The basics are the hours this will take.

I have the hours in the next five days. So if I use the hours correctly, I can enjoy poker tournaments, spending time with friends over lunches and dinners, do my e-mail and business stuff, and still write this novel.

What do I mean by the hours? I know that to do 8,000 words of fiction in a day, I need to spend about 6 hours or so at it. Maybe a little longer. So I picked 7 hours per day of writing time to be safe. That’s what I mean by hours.

Hint #2… Plan the days ahead to convince yourself you have the time.

I have no intention of following some silly plan while here, and no way I can control my friends or if I go deep into a big poker tournament. But I had to lay it out ahead of time to make sure the hours really were possible. There are seven hours per day for five days easily on this trip.

Hint #3… Plan on not thinking about the book. In other words, I plan on just getting out of my own way, slamming my critical voice into a corner to whimper for five days, and write a clean novel. I will not rewrite this. (I never rewrite anything anyway.) So I will be writing clean and if all things fall into place I will have a finished 40,000 plus novel by the end of five days.

This is back on the attitude point. Attitude and belief  are everything.

And planning to have a good attitude and a belief something is possible.

Some basic warnings.

Warning #1… If you are deathly afraid of failure, never try anything like this. About a thousand things could go wrong to derail this or any challenge like it. I am prepared for failure if it happens. Not afraid of it.

Warning #2… If you don’t have all the myths of writing cleared out of your system, don’t even think of trying this. If you have to write perfect, this challenge will kill you dead. If you write sloppy, this challenge will be a waste of time. If you think everything your write is important, run from this idea.

And so on and so on.

Warning #3… If you don’t know exactly how many words you can write in an hour, tested over time, don’t try this. Chances are you will be wrong about your writing speed and you will just set up for an automatic failure.

This gets deadly when you think you can write at a certain speed and suddenly a story becomes important to you for some critical voice reason, so you slow down, and the challenge pressures you into madness.

Warning #4… If the fear of doing something like this kills the flexibility I talked about in the first chapter, run away from this idea. Fear often makes people very rigid and if you are naturally one of those people, find other ways to challenge yourself.

Also, if you are normally a ridged schedule person in real life, the needed flexibility to do this kind of challenge will kill you. Avoid completely.

Warning #5… If you can’t handle an emotional up-and-down ride, don’t try a challenge like this one. No chance on the planet this kind of thing will not be a bumpy ride emotionally.

For me that will be part of the fun. Writing into the dark completely will mean at times I will be stuck. And when stuck here, there are lots of other things for me to go do. Oh, oh…

What will happen next?

Each day I will do a chapter here about the day, the details of the day, and how it shaped up and how I did with the writing.

You will be able to follow the progress of the word count and when this book and the novel are eventually bundled together, you will be able to see exactly what I wrote on any given day.

I will also detail out how I am feeling. Tired, excited, and so on. In other words, the ups and downs of the ride through the writing of the book.

So here we go.

I have driven three days to get here to Las Vegas. And tomorrow my friends start arriving. And poker tournaments start.

And tomorrow I start a brand new novel called Ace High: A Cold Poker Gang Novel.

Not a clue what it will be about, but it will be set here in Las Vegas, I know that much.

Stay tuned. The ride should be interesting, if nothing else. Just hope I can keep this ride on the tracks.


  • Harvey

    Hey Dean, Up in Hint #1 (in the final book) you might mention work ethic too. Perfect opportunity. I suspect a lot of writers can’t imagine writing for even six hour per day. Thanks for posting these.

    • dwsmith

      I do that and writers run away. (grin) For fiction writers coming in, they have mostly bought into the myth that all you have to do to make millions is work an hour or two per day and you can learn an international profession. That’s one of the myths that has to be cleared out. Learning this profession takes years and a lot of long hours. Just as any other profession.

      And what is really,really funny is that writers think that working two hours a day and writing a thousand words is WORK! And they of spend more time convincing their family around them that a few hours a day is work than actually writing.

      And if you can spend eight or ten hours at a day job in a day, you can spend the same amount of time making stuff up in a day if you have the hours. Just a focus.

      And this comment just hit a bunch of people really wrong. But calling bull-pucky on a myth does that. (grin)

  • Scott


    You’re speaking to the choir with me, but the one thing that jumped out at me was your comment about hours and knowing how long it takes you to write 8,000 words. Thanks to the lessons I learned in your Speed Workshop–yeah, that’s a plug for anyone reading this other than Dean–I have been keeping track of how long it actually is taking me to write this first novel of 2017. With the power of a spreadsheet and math, I know that I hit the halfway point in this morning’s writing session. I’m keeping track of all my data, so that when I complete this novel and start the next, I’ll have my numbers in place and can plan out February more precisely. As a writer with a full-time day job, this is vital. So, thanks again, Dean. It is so refreshing to have this data in place.