Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Introduction: Living at Pulp Speed Five

Or At Least Some of the Introduction…

I might cycle back and add stuff to the introduction for the book. But for now, a day ahead of the challenge starting, I’m going to write some of this introduction. It is below.

So many of you will have heard some of this on the ramp-up to this challenge. But I have to put it all in the introduction to the book, so hang on.

Also, still two spots left in the follow along to the challenge, where I send you a letter every night and you get to read whatever I manage to write way ahead of it coming out, in uncorrected proof form. That’s right, you will see my actual draft after Kris reads it. I will have WMG run it into epub for easier reading, but besides that, it will be what I wrote. Mistakes and all.

Honestly, can’t believe this didn’t fill in a day or two. I would have given just about anything to follow closely along and read what a major professional writer was doing on a daily basis. Guess I was wrong. Or maybe that attitude is why I am here with 200 novels behind me and 40 years of career. But anyway, eight folks are going to enjoy it, I promise. And learn a ton in the process. Two spots left.

So here we go with the public face of all this for the book. Got a hunch in 100 days I will do about twenty blogs total (2 per novel). That will make this nonfiction book 20 chapters, a decent size.

Nifty cover, huh?

INTRODUCTION to Living At Pulp Speed Five.

This is a book about the process of writing ten novels in one hundred days. Yup, that simple and that crazy.

This book will take its original shape in blogs on my website and I hope to add a bunch more to the book in the final form once the one hundred days are complete. But the origin will be on my blog as the one hundred days goes along.

And as I write this introduction, I have no idea at the outcome, if I will be able to write ten novels or not. I am writing this introduction the night before the first day. This is a challenge for me, one that actually worries me as I start into it.

But if you are actually reading this introduction in a book, you know I managed to do it.

So I hope you get the sense, as you read this, of the fun and the pressure of this challenge. I have no idea what books I will be writing. I will think about what the first book might be tomorrow, on the first day. I have done no outlines or any prep work beyond trying to get some business projects done and out of the way.

During the one hundred days, I have at least one trip planned, a full week of a workshop to teach, my birthday, a marathon to run, and Thanksgiving holidays. And I work a lot of hours each week as the CFO of WMG Publishing, plus teach online workshops. And I exercise at least three hours a day on top of that.

In other words, I am going to do this with my real life going on.

What is Pulp Speed?

Pulp Speed comes from Star Trek Warp Speed and is a way to sort of shorthand the speed that old pulp writers used to write at regularly for years.

Pulp Speed One is 1 million words per year or about 83,000 words per month. So if you write 83,000 words in a month, you wrote at Pulp Speed that month.

Pulp Speed Two is 1.2 million words in a year or 100,000 words per month.

It goes up by .2 million words per year from there for each speed. So Pulp Speed Five is 1.8 million words in a year. Or about 150,000 words per month.

My challenge to myself is to write ten novels in one hundred days.

I count any words that will be consumable, as a friend of mine called them. So here is the math.

I tend to write 40,000 to 50,000 novels. I will be averaging a novel finished, final draft, every ten days. Plus my blogs that I will combine into this book will add up to over 150,000 per month or Pulp Speed Five.

The title Living at Pulp Speed Five comes from the fact that in each chapter I will detail out some of my life and the ups and down of the writing.

Many writers, as they are coming in and learning and writing around families and jobs, can manage about half pulp speed, or about 40,000 words per month. That’s a great amount.

One more thing I need to get clear right now. I am a horrid typist. I manage about 1,000 words per hour, often slower. So writing like this is nothing more than spending more time, more hours every day, in my writing chair. I also produce finished copy and with every word, every book, I do the best I can do.

And considering that I have over 23 million copies of my books in print now, readers seem to think my best is pretty good.

What Do I Hope To Accomplish By Doing This?

Besides getting ten novels and a non-fiction writing book to sell?

Part of why I am doing this is simply to have a decent year writing when it is all over. My wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and I had a sudden move to Las Vegas this year for health reasons. Dealing with over twenty-years of stuff in a large house on the Oregon Coast cost me almost half of the year. So if I actually can complete this, I will be back to a pretty normal year of writing with about 14 novels and about fifty short stories done.

Yes, that is a normal year for me.

Second, I hope to push myself, and my fear of this challenge tells me I am pushing myself to the edge of my limits. A good thing.  I also hate thinking that age might limit me. I will turn 68 in the middle of this challenge, so this will also prove that age means nothing. I like that.

Third, I hope to learn a ton about writing and the process as I go along. Each book I will be practicing something, each road-block or set-back will be a challenge to climb over and to learn from.

The next one hundred days will be anything but smooth, but I got a hunch they will be fun.

Grab a seat, buckle up, and hang on for the ride. And maybe you too can learn right along with me how to write ten novels in one hundred days.




  • Marsha

    Dean, I would love, love, love to be one of the ten but spent every spare dollar I had earmarked for the year on my Lifetime Subscription, which by the way, has been a great value. I will however eagerly follow what you share in the blog and am amping up my own writing to see what I can do. So, cheering from the wings here.

    • dwsmith

      Marsha, glad the lifetime subscription to the workshops is working for you. It will continue to bring rewards for years to come.

  • Jo

    Okay it’s gone now….-shrug-

    My email address is public information, as a member of the oregon bar, so if my address is somehow made public no biggie.

    Weird glitch I guess.

    Lol, have fun on your challenge!!!!

    • dwsmith

      Jo, not sure what you are talking about? Nothing I can find on this side shows your address. And yeah, sometimes the comments here leave a previous name and email in the form. Just change it. We are trying to figure out where that occasional glitch is coming from. It is strange, that’s for sure.

  • James, F.E.

    As with many of your offers on challenges, seminars, Kickstarters, etc. I would love to participate in the follow along for this but I simply do not have the funds. Don’t assume that it was a bad idea or that people don’t want to participate because all 10 spots didn’t fill up.

  • JM

    As the suggester of this challenge, I’m looking forward to watching as you do it.

    Don’t forget to remind people that writing is FUN and this challenge is giving yourself permission to have hours and hours of fun for the next three and a half months.

    • dwsmith

      Well said, JM. And the stress I am feeling is because of doing something new in a new place and a new schedule.

      I should talk about priorities as well I suppose. My priorities are Kris first, always. Then eating right and exercise. Then workshops and business. Then the writing. So this entire challenge needs to fit into a 4th spot.

      • Jo

        Regarding family and health/fitness, those always have to come first. For sure. Without those two things taken care of there can be no 3rd or 4th priority.

    • Rikki Mongoose

      “There is nothing in the world that can hook you like creative writing. To see the words appear out of the typewriter which has sucked them from your brain via your fingertips is close to tripping on Owlsley Purple. No matter how hard you work on a story, the check you receive almost seems like a gift, for writing the story was so much fun it was almost pay enough in itself.”
      -Dean Koontz, 1970

  • Janine

    I would have loved to partake in the challenge, but due to lack of funds at the moment and my doubts in being able to keep up myself (I’m still struggling to get myself back to Pulp Speed One), I will have to respectfully decline. Thanks for offering this though and I hope the eight that have signed up so far, plus the last two slots, will get a very close look in how writing fast and clean is not a myth. I’m hoping to get myself to at least Pulp Speed Two by year’s end and build up my creative voice and self confidence much more (though you have already helped a ton).

  • Loyd Jenkins

    Like James, F E , I just don’t have the money to sign up. Instead I will be here, reading your posts and picking up nuggets of wisdom (hard earned). And cheering for you.

  • allynh

    I also hate thinking that age might limit me. I will turn 68 in the middle of this challenge, so this will also prove that age means nothing.


    I don’t see why you keep talking about “age” when you clearly have 40 or 50 years of busy life still ahead of you. Writing is the one thing that you can keep doing until the end.

    He’s 101, Unless He’s Only 98. And He Just Wrote Another Novel.

  • Rikki Mongoose

    I’ve found out a fun way critical voice stops an author.

    Sometimes you have an idea you like. But critical voice says that “your skill is too low, you will spoil your great idea with bad realisation. You have a great title, you shouldn’t use it for bad work”.

    Maybe, just a challenge can beat it.

  • Michelle

    I’m with Marsha and James. Burning curiosity, no funds. Looking forward to the blog posts though – I’m sure there will be plenty to learn from those too. Hope the writing goes well.

  • C.D. Watson

    I have absolute faith that you’ll master this challenge, and in spite of not having a full complement of folks following it on a personal, detailed basis, the rest of us are following along and rooting for you.

  • Esmerelda

    Thank you for this inspiration! I plan to follow along on my own, but I’ll be doing the lower end of Pulp Speed Five, clocking in at 5k a day (I can’t currently make it to 10k/day, but perhaps I can work up to it). Even 5k a day on a regular basis would be huge for me. I’m starting a few days behind (it’s September 14 today), but since I’m committing to only 5k, I think I can eventually catch up as long as I don’t miss a day.

    I really needed this. Thank you!

    • dwsmith

      Esmerelda, by my math, if you did 5,000 words a day, you are solidly in Pulp Speed Five. That’s fantastic. But the real key is to have fun. That is everything.