Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Topic of the Night,  Writing in Public

Topic of the Night: Writing a Novel in Seven Days: Chapter Four


Chapter Four: Day One

The Challenge is Simple.

Day One: 3,000 words.

And then each day after that add 1,000 words to the amount needed. Seven days, if my math is right, I will have a 42,000 word novel.

3,000… 4,000… 5,000… 6,000… 7,000… 8,000… 9,000 words.

7 Days.

Day One

Here we go.

I’m going to detail out my day so that anyone reading this can extrapolate their own days and see how it works. The idea is to help others with similar challenges like this.

And help writers with just controlling their own fears and time.

Side Note First on Structure

On the comments on the last chapter, which will not be available in the book, I was asked how I was going to handle doing extra words on some nights or was I going to just stop when I reached the world count?

I decided that this challenge is total word count. Finish a novel is seven days. I need at least 3,000 words done today, the first day, then adding 4,000 on the second, I need to be past 7,000 words total by the end of the second day.

And so on.

That way I don’t have to be worried about stopping exactly on some word count.

How I will deal with the ending if I am short or long on the novel I’ll talk about at the end. Not a clue at the moment, actually.

The Day

Started off by climbing out of bed at 1:30 p.m. and by the time I got around to leaving the house to run errands, it was 3 p.m.

I got to WMG offices a little after 3 and worked with Josh there for about forty-five minutes on the new store, then I went to my office and worked for an hour finishing loading up a Smith’s Monthly to the printer.

Then I worked until around 7 p.m. on workshop stuff.

So for those of you counting, about four hours at WMG and workshop work today away from my writing office.

I took a short nap when I got home, then cooked dinner and watched some news and such.

Got in here to my office around 8:30 p.m. to do e-mail and other things.

Finally, around 9:30 p.m. I moved over to my writing computer and started the novel The Idanha Hotel: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

First Session:

I managed about 600 words before I had to go lay down because of a headache. (Eyestrain I think.)

Second Session:

Around 11 p.m. I was back in for another session. This time I managed 800 words starting up this novel before going to take a break and watch some television around 12 midnight.

So two sessions so far for about 1,400 words starting up at just under two hours writing.

Third Session:

Around 1:30 a.m. I came back in to my writing computer and did another session of 1,100 words as the novel started to pick up speed.

Fourth Session:

A five minute break at 2:15 a.m. and another 1,200 words before 3:15 a.m.

So stopping at 3,700 words for the day.

A perfect start. Novel, as I said to Kris, wants to be written at the moment. No idea where it is going and the short story didn’t help much at all since I changed out the two characters from the short story and changed the focus right from word one.

Not sure why I did that. I never ask, I just type.

700 words ahead going into tomorrow’s word count now. I need to be past 7,000 words on the book by the end of tomorrow night.

The Day in Summary

4 hours of work at WMG.

Just under 4 hours of writing time to get 3,700 words on the novel.

This chapter and the daily blog will take about an hour combined.

So 9 hours starting at 1:30 p.m. and going until 4 a.m. of structure time between my day job and writing fun.

The rest of the time was napping, cooking dinner, watching television, and other regular life things.

Onward to Day Two.

The novel is started. That’s all that mattered today.


  • Linda Jordan

    Okay, you’ve convinced me.?

    I’m going to spend this week clearing the decks and begin the novel next weekend. That week will be spring break, so not ideal as the house will be fuller. But that’s life.

    I’m more than a bit afraid. Never written this much in a week before, but I’ve got to get the final book in a series done. And it would be awesome to do before I release the first book in late April.

    So diving in.

    The worst that can happen is I’ll only get part of it written in the week. Win!

  • Gnondpom

    You’ve convinced me as well 🙂

    I’ve never ever written any fiction so I started small, but I’ve decided to give a try to the Writing into the Dark process you’ve described so well. No specific goal for me apart from just writing something, which in itself is a huge step from not writing. And over the last two days I’ve managed to finish a children’s short story for my daughter.

    My daughter is absolutely delighted, and I did have fun writing it. I always thought that I had no imagination since I couldn’t get ideas from scratch, but the Writing into the Dark process is really liberating, it allowed me to go from one small idea to the other, and get a full short story in the end. That’s truly amazing, thank you so much for sharing so openly your process!

      • Gnondpom

        Does the fact that I’ve written a short story once make me a writer? I wouldn’t go that far, it probably depends on what I do from now on.

        What is a writer anyway? I think I’ve read – probably somewhere on this blog – a definition that made the most sense to me: a writer is somebody who writes (I know, duh, but apparently it is not all that obvious). But how many words per month does it take to be a “real” writer? Dean, I know how you talk about how many words are “pulp speed”, but I’m just wondering whether there is a minimal number of words to just be called a writer.

        • dwsmith

          Gnondpom, just any words moderately regularly. I know some writers who do one thousand words a week because that’s all they can manage with full time jobs and family and health. And they are regular at it and the writing is a focus for them, so I would certainly call them a writer. You don’t have to be full time or writing at some silly level of speed. Just a focus and interest and some words every week as life allows.

          Full time writer is another definition. That’s when you make your living at your writing or are working to make your living with your writing. A different form of focus. Doesn’t mean you don’t have a day job, just means your focus is all writing and to make a living with your writing. That’s a full-time writer. I am a full-time writer because I make my living with my writing even though I do a ton of other stuff as well.

          In poker, for example, a professional poker player is a person who makes their living at poker. A part-time professional poker player is a person, like me, who sometimes makes money at their poker. A poker player is just a person who plays poker for fun at times and doesn’t make money regularly at it.

          • Gnondpom

            Thanks Dean for your detailed answer. Yes, it makes a lot of sense to consider the focus more than a number of words.

  • B

    I have accidentally decided to join in on this too as I have a story due soon that would benefit from the words. It’s not exactly the ideal time as I’m about to work 10 days straight and need to manage some weekend trip cooking too but why not? Time’s the one commodity we don’t have enough of.

    I managed 3000 words on a story I had already started and my plan is to add 4000 more today. I’m halfway there.

  • Marsha Ward

    Dean, I’m a long-time follower. When I read Writing into the Dark, I finally got solid validation for my quirky writing process (so, so similar to yours!), and quit feeling guilty for NOT doing endless edits before publication. I use trusted beta readers, have my computer read the work back to me, and check for production values and stray goof-ups, but that’s pretty much it. I seldom have reader complaints. Thank you for exposing the myths writers are led to believe.

    I’m not going to do the seven-day novel, but will proceed on a modified schedule thereof with my seventh book. In the meantime, I’m waiting on a cover for a novella I’ll release in a couple of months (book six just launched). Thank you for all your good work with writers–and writing!

  • Dane Tyler

    Wow, great start, Dean! Off like a rocket! Fun to see (even though I’m seeing after the fact). 🙂

    I have to admit, this sounds like a fun way to spend vacation time. And with no day job during the vacation to interfere, I’d have clear decks to work on it. Very intriguing idea. And the 10-day novel idea is too, but that’s a lot of time investment (vacation-wise, not writing-wise).

    Great fun to see so far!