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

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


Chapter Nine: Day Six

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 Six (8,000 word day)

Once again made my goal for the day.

This goal today at 8,000 words was pretty much my focus for the day. I still worked up at WMG Publishing, but for not as long. (Yes, I still worked my day job, got my e-mail, and did these blogs while writing 8,000 words.)

Counting 3,000 words for Day On, 4,000 words for Day Two, 5,000 words for Day Three, 6,000 words for Day Four, 7,000 words for Day Five, and 8,000 words for Day Six, I needed to be at 33,000 words or beyond.

Hit that once again.

I had 2,950 words in the bank before today, but didn’t want to use the words today and it worked out that I didn’t once again. In fact, I added to the bank a little. Very little. 50 words actually, to make the bank after tonight 3,000 words even.

The Day

Thursday for me is a normal day I work on workshop stuff up at WMG offices and I did that as well today. I got there, after a half hour of errands, around 2:30. I worked there upstairs in the new store and on workshop stuff in my office until just before 5 p.m. when I headed home. So basically three hours of work there.

I did some e-mail and other things quickly, then by 5:15 I got started writing on the novel The Idanha Hotel: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

First Session:

5:15 p.m. I started and managed 800 words  in forty-five minutes before taking a very short break.

Second Session:

Back in here around 6 p.m. and managed 700 words in another 45 minutes.

The weather at this point gave me a break. I find it difficult to write when the sun is streaming over the ocean and into my office. Even with the blinds pulled, it is hard to see my computers. But just after I started the fog rolled in and I wrote without a problem with the window open and the ocean crashing on the beach.

Third Session:

Another short break and managed 750 more words in another 45 minutes before stopping to take a nap and have dinner at 7:30 p.m.

2,250 words in three sessions. Book was going slow at this point because it was very complicated and I had to stop and do a quick check on facts a number of times. (Remember, I only write one draft. I never leave anything and I don’t write sloppy.)

Still, 2,250 words before dinner made me happy.

Fourth Session:

Got back in here around 9 p.m. after some dinner and television. By 10:15, a long session for me, I had 1,300 words more.

Fifth Session:

A little longer break and from 10:45 until midnight I got in 1,500 words.

Book is back picking up speed at this point.

Sixth Session:

Watched some television, so didn’t get back into this office until 1:30 a.m. From then until 2:15 I wrote 1,000 words even.

Yes, even on an eight thousand word day I watched television twice and took a nap. That ought to mess with some myths. (grin)

Seventh Session:

From 2:20 a.m. until 3 a.m. I managed 950 words.

Eighth Session:

From 3 a.m. until 3:45 a.m. I managed 1,050 words.


Made it. Eight sessions.

I got 8,050 words for the  day, bringing the novel to 36,000 words total so far.

I needed to be at 33,000 words after today on the challenge, so I have 3,000 words in the bank at the moment on the challenge.

Going to finish this tomorrow.

How Am I Feeling at This Point?

Very, very, very focused now.

I am on jury duty starting tomorrow, but I luckily don’t have to go in until next week. That would have been fun.

So I am able to stay really focused going forward now, which at these longer word counts, you have to be.

Tomorrow it feels like this book will finish up. Not at all sure how long it will end up, so I am planning on spending a real focused day on it. Nine sessions, which means I have to watch my time carefully.

Just wish I could see the ending. I think I have caught a glimpse, but it’s some words away. Or at least it feels that way.

Going to be interesting. If I have to write ten or eleven thousand words tomorrow to finish this thing, I will.

Stay tuned.

And then on Sunday night, I’ll do a final chapter on this nonfiction book that these blogs will turn into. I’ll talk about the challenge from a day’s hindsight and if such a challenge like this is worthwhile. And so on.

But got to finish the novel first.

The Writing of The Idanha Hotel: A Thunder Mountain Novel
(The number in parenthesis is what is needed for the challenge.)

Day 1.. 3,700 words. (3,000)  Total words so far… 3,700 words.
Day 2.. 5,100 words. (4,000)  Total words so far… 8,800 words.
Day 3.. 5,600 words. (5,000)  Total words so far… 14,400 words.
Day 4.. 6,050 words. (6,000) Total words so far… 20,450 words.
Day 5.. 7,500 words. (7,000) Total words so far… 27,950 words.
Day 6.. 8,050 words. (8,000) Total words so far… 36,000 words.

The Day in Summary

4 hours of work at other things counting the hour to write this chapter and other blog post and e-mail.

7 hours or so of writing to get 8,050 words.

Just about 11 hours for the day total. The rest of the time was napping, watching television, eating lunch and dinner, sleeping, and other regular life things.

Onward to Day Seven, the last day.


  • Dane Tyler

    Nicely done, Dean! I love that you show room for living regular life stuff while still producing a big chunk of words in a single day. Makes so much seem possible, attainable, once the attitude adjustment and mental focus are in place.

    Bravo! I can’t wait to see the rest.

  • Kim Iverson

    What I like most, and can relate to, is the “at least” part of your goals. I’ve found that to be what I stick with too when I set things to do. It really helps! Either it’s, I need to read “at least” this amount of pages to finish the edit by [insert date]. Or, it’s in terms of getting at least a certain amount of words written each day. I even do it (just realized) for my final word count in books, short, etc. Keeps things fun and not stressful.

    The other day (yesterday, I think – bad memory, haha) I was going to mention something about a comment you made. You said you didn’t know why this challenge ended up being with a novel/series for you that tends to be difficult, or just sluggish. I read that and thought to myself, you wanted a challenge to get your writing back up to speed so your own subconscious did it for you. There was no better book/series to push you to do that than this one. From the outside looking in (exposing my love of psychology here) no other book would have pushed you and challenged you as much. 🙂 Would have said this then but I finished writing a book, started another, and have one releasing today so my brain is focused there and made me forget. Yay for remembering! Haha

    • dwsmith

      Might be right on that, Kim. But I just go along for the ride on what my creative brain wants me to do. I know that’s horrors for the young writers who tell everyone to write to market, but for me the fun is in letting my brain just go. Luckily, it wants to play in series a lot.

  • Anita Cooper

    Thanks for running through this process with us, Dean.

    It’s really encouraging to know that if I simply practice the BIC method like you do, then I’ll get faster and better with my writing.
    Right now I only do about 800 words per hour, sometimes less, sometimes more, but it is getting easier. Learning a lot!

    BTW – I hope readers of this blog realize you’re revealing the “trick” to being prolific, lol!

    • dwsmith

      Yup, and I’m still not up to the levels of the most prolific writers who have worked out there. But this week I got close. (grin)

      And if you have an average word count per hour, then you can figure the hours it will take to do something. I think this book, for me, is going much better per hour than I normally do, or my normal has jumped up again. (I do think I took my normal from writing short stories, which are another animal.)

      • Gnondpom

        If I may ask, you’re saying that short stories are another animal, do you mean that they are slower to write than a novel? (on average of course, I guess it must depend on the story)

        Maybe because then you have more universe to set up, which I could imagine may take longer than going with the flow of an already well established story?

        • dwsmith

          Yes, all those reasons. But mostly with a short story, it’s always like starting up. So for me, a short story is often done at the same speed as the opening of a novel. Slower. Ends of books often move faster. So when only doing short stories, my words per hour is way down, as would be expected with opening after opening after opening.

          • Gnondpom

            Thanks for your answer. Come to think of it, it is not very different from my reading experience: starting a novel or reading a short story requires me to adapt to the author, to the writing style, to the story, etc. and so it is slower (and requires more concentration, I find it more difficult to read when there is noise around or if I’m regularly interrupted).

            Whereas once I’ve been reading a novel for a while it goes quicker, I don’t stumble anymore upon words or sentence constructions that sound strange, I know the characters already and come to expect what they might do. And the ending usually just flows.

            BTW, that also makes your short stories in a given series quicker to access for me (as opposed to a random short story by an author I don’t know), since I know the characters already and I can read more quickly through the descriptions of things I already know (the gods and superhero explanations in Poker boy for instance). Maybe it is also quicker for you to write a short story in one of your series (of course once you know you’re in this series)?

  • Michele Laframboise

    Always a big inspiration to “see” you working!

    I got back to the challenge and managed 3500 words today, a lot for me (I began with 700 words, adding 700 each day). The whole story got unstuck when I immersed myself in another scene. :^)

  • B

    It’s always so fascinating seeing working writer work. I had to cut out on the challenge on the 6k day because I was too tired during my day job. I got 12k words so not a bad way to go.

    Do you have any tips on how to get the cycling aspect of writing established that you haven’t already discussed in the various Writing into the Dark materials? I find I have the hardest time going back to add in and such when I could be writing a new scene but then I have to fix so much when I’ve written everything. I’m hating that a lot.

    • dwsmith

      Bibi, just start teaching yourself to write cleaner the first time through. Fixing is your critical voice saying something is wrong and you have to go back. That’s why it’s hard. Just write it and leave it alone and ignore the critical voice. That’s where the problem is for you. All critical voice.

      Cycling is part of writing itself, not rewriting to fix.