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


Chapter Ten: Day Seven

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 Seven (9,000 word day)

Got the book done!!!!

The goal today was at 9,000 words and needed to be the focus of my day because I had no idea how many words I would actually need to end this book. I had 3,000 words in the bank, so that helped the worry some.

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, 8,000 words for Day Six, and 9,000 words for Day Seven, I needed to be at 42,000 words or beyond to hit the challenge.

Hit that solidly. The novel came in at 43,050 words.

Seven Day Novel Challenge Hit!!!

The Day

Friday for me is normally an errand day. I got out of the house around 1:30 p.m. and ran errands all over the place including banks, mail, the WMG store, grocery store, you name it, I was there this afternoon.

Got to the office around 4:30 and worked there until just before 5:30 p.m. before heading home.

I did some e-mail and other things quickly, then by 6:00 I got started writing on the novel The Idanha Hotel: A Thunder Mountain Novel.

First Session:

6:00 p.m. I started and managed 700 words  in thirty minutes before taking a very short break.

Second Session:

Back in here around 6:45 p.m. and managed 900 words in another 45 minutes.

Sun was out and I had to block the sun coming into my office, but managed to make it work. Book was going slow at this point because I honestly had no idea exactly where it was going or how it would end.

I also decided to take a nap at his point and then dinner and some television. So slower than last night.

Third Session:

Got back in here around 9:30 p.m. and managed 1,100 more words by 10:15 p.m.

Fourth Session:

10:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. I got 1,200 words more.

Stopped to watch some television at that point. Yes, even on a 9,000 word last day I stopped and watched some television.

Fifth Session:

1 a.m. until until 2 a.m. I got in 1,100 words.

Book is back picking up speed at this point and I know the ending now.

Sixth Session:

2:05 a.m. until 2:50 a.m. I got 1,000 words done.

Seventh Session:

From 3 a.m. until 3:45 a.m. I managed 600 words.

Eighth Session:

From 3:45 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. I managed 400 words.

I also spent a lot of time going back over all 50 some chapters to make sure the dates at the top were right. Time travel and loops are really confusing, but for the most part, I got them all right.

So I printed up the book and put it on Kris’s spot to read.


Eight sessions.

I got 7,000 words for the  day, bringing the novel to 43,050 words total. That’s about normal length for all my Thunder Mountain books.

How Am I Feeling About Finishing?

Relieved and surprised it wasn’t harder than it was.

I had to stay focused for the week, but I didn’t not do something. I still worked and watched television and got regular night’s sleep. I didn’t really do anything differently except that I was focused on the writing instead of playing around with other things.

In the last chapter of this nonfiction book about the writing on Sunday night, I’ll list all the details about the challenge. How many hours it took me to write, how much I worked at my job outside of the writing, and so on over the seven days.

But I want to say this right now. I had thought that writing a novel in a week was a young person’s thing. Learned I am wrong on that. I’m 65 years old and this didn’t even begin to stress me.

So now that excuse for me is shot out the window.

Back Sunday with a wrap-up of all this and a final chapter on the nonfiction book.


Where Can You Read This Novel?

In about a month, this novel will be out in Smith’s Monthly #30. (That’s right, I will have done 30 issues of a monthly magazine with a full novel in every issue, plus short stories.)

Then in about four months, the book will come out in paper and electronic editions stand-alone.

Subscribe to Smith’s Monthly to not miss it, or support this blog on Patreon. Either way you can read this novel in a month.


The Writing of The Idanha Hotel: A Thunder Mountain Novel

Day 1.. 3,700 words.   Total words so far… 3,700 words.
Day 2.. 5,100 words.  Total words so far… 8,800 words.
Day 3.. 5,600 words.   Total words so far… 14,400 words.
Day 4.. 6,050 words.  Total words so far… 20,450 words.
Day 5.. 7,500 words.  Total words so far… 27,950 words.
Day 6.. 8,050 words.  Total words so far… 36,050 words.
Day 7.. 7,000 words.  Total words so far… 43,050 words.

The Day in Summary

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

6.5 hours or so of writing to get 7,000 words.

Just about 12 hours for the day total. The rest of the time was napping, watching television, eating lunch and dinner, sleeping, and other regular life things.

All done. A novel is seven days.

It was great fun.


  • Jes

    Wow, it’s been a joy reading these Novel in a Week posts. It gives me lots of food for thought. I’ve been thinking. I have let myself off the hook too easily with the amount of time I dedicate to writing and I think you may have proven my point. Now to set up my own challenge.
    I have a question, my next story (novel length) takes place in a country I know little about, yet. Do you research before you write? I will probably get my code for the lecture series on this topic so I can review it again, but I was curious if you research ahead and how long you set aside for research.
    Also, if you were doing this challenge again is there a type of book you wouldn’t do?
    Thanks again for all you do.

    • dwsmith


      If I really must write a book in a place I don’t know, I research when I am writing something else. Research isn’t writing and is actually dangerous at times to writing because writers never ever feel like they have researched enough, so critical voice can keep you away from writing for a long time in that trap. So caution. Put the setting of the book in some place you know.

      Or do what I did when I was hired to write a book set in Northern Thailand. I got a Fodor’s guide, opened it beside my computer as I started writing, and looked at two pictures and tried to imagine what it would be like standing there in the picture as I wrote. Reviewers and the editor said the setting was thick and rich. Go figure. (grin)

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Matt. After the long winter, it felt good to be up on ground effect again. With the new store I might drop the wheels back to the pavement, but might not.

  • Ian H

    Congratulations but wow Dean the things you do for fun! I had full confidence that you could write the required number of words each day, and do a full day job, because I once managed to write 6000 words in 24 hours myself and I never let anyone forget:-) But still, I was reading through my fingers since about day 5 because it didn’t seem likely that life could leave you uninterrupted. So you needed luck and you got it. A bit nerve wracking to follow along, but very instructive in showing that the only reason most of us are not writing a novel every month is because, excuses. Thanks for sharing.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, I stayed healthy even though everyone around me was out with bad colds, and the Jury duty ended being pushed back until Tuesday. So yeah, luck on the life side of things.

  • allynh

    Dean said: Sun was out and I had to block the sun coming into my office, but managed to make it work.

    See, it’s hard to “write into the dark” with that much light in the office.

    When I write into the dark I need “night-lights” otherwise I trip over things. HA!

  • Kathleen

    For transparency’s sake, my week went like this, days 1-4, hit the word goal, but day 4’s words weren’t very enticing. Day 5 dropped to the 2000’s but they were better words. Day 6 — oy, only 881 but again, much much deeper scene. Day 7 — I cut out huge chunks of previous chapters and started in a new direction. Because of the massive cuts I lost track of the word count, but it had to have been only in the hundreds.
    For me the challenge taught me that for the depth I want, I can’t push the words per hour (yet) but it also taught me I can get in 2000 a day comfortably, and still stay in the scene and out of the judge brain (and still take care of the other parts of life). So not finished, and only around a third of the words I’d aimed for but as we say at my house, a VLE (valuable learning experience). Thanks, Dean, and congrats. Looking forward to reading the book.

  • Linda Jordan

    This is exciting. I’m glad you did this. It’s so inspiring. I start on Monday. Still have to get a few things off my plate this weekend and then I’m off.

  • Horace

    Awesome, Dean. Thanks for doing this challenge. Love seeing what’s possible with some discipline.

    • dwsmith

      Horace, not sure I had any real discipline. More just a focus and I was having fun with that focus on writing.

  • Cora

    Thanks for the inspiration Dean. My production is way up since you started talking about this. And since it’s not a New Year’s resolution, no pressure. I’m planning to keep up my pace or better it for the month. At least three weeks helps make a habit.

    • dwsmith

      Cora, you have that right. Habits are really important in writing, of that there is no doubt.

  • Kathy

    Congrats and Bravo, Dean!

    Before I started taking your classes, my first book took 6 months to write. Over the last two years, I’ve taken WMG classes from cover design, internal book design, and electronic book design, to the Depth workshops, Pitches & Blurbs, etc. (My goal is to take another class this summer, since I’m writing more in less time and will easily be able to fit a class into my schedule.)

    Your sharing of your inspiring, intriguing challenges serve to spur me on, and I very much appreciate you sharing your adventures. Just wanted you to know that I’m working on Book #4 of 2016 (30% or so complete already), and that I give have your example and WMG workshops full credit for guiding me along a productive writing path.

    Thanks so much and hat tip to you,


    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Kathy. Just keep having fun. Sounds like you are and great job on the three books. Fun, huh?

  • D S Butler

    Dean, you are an inspiration! I really want to give it a shot. Thanks for showing it is possible.

  • David Anthony Brown

    Awesome! I’ll have to try your seven-day schedule in the future.

    In the mean time I’ve played along with my own challenge. I need a number of novellas completed soon. Finished one a week ago, wrote some short stories, then decided to write the next novella a chapter a day. Figured 20 days, because more chapters than that and it’d be a novel (oh well). i work in half hour sessions, average 500 words or so each, and three sessions gets me a chapter normally. Started Sunday and so far have hit everyday.

    Next challenge for me is get from one chapter to two chapters a day, then I’ll be hitting pulp speed!

  • Stephanie

    Was there doubt you’d finish? Seriously though, congratulations!

    It’s a huge motivation for me to see what’s possible when it comes to words on page. (Now to get the huge family to realize that no, the world won’t end if I’m busy writing for an hour here or there. Mostly I steal sleep hours to write but… that’s becoming unsustainable.

    Awesome work finishing on time. Love the whole ‘words in the bank’ concept, may have to use that for future work.

  • D J Mills

    Same as the comments above, congratulations, and well done!
    I knew you could finish the novel, but thought you would “fail to success” because of life interrupting, so was pleased to see you did finish the novel.
    I like the idea of having a small excess of words banked each day to help on the final day of a challenge like this one. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, the bank helped ease the stress a little and made the ending be open to whatever word length it came out to be.

    • dwsmith

      I’ll do a wrap up post Sunday night. Some interesting details when I step back and look at the seven days. Thanks!

  • brad

    Hey Dean,

    Congrats! I have blog topic request that has been inspired by some of the recent changes you made to your website of late. What I’d be interested in reading about is your ‘ideal/dream author or publisher’ site. I’m setting up one for my publishing company and ideas would be super welcome.



    • dwsmith

      Brad, just stay with the basics, which I don’t tend to do. Just a page about you, easy access to your work, upcoming work, and series reading order and a newsletter sign-up.

      Anyone else? I’m just trying to get to the basics with this site, which doing it after the fact is a bad, bad idea. (grin)

    • Harvey

      Brad, for my publishing company it’s more complex because there are multiple authors, all my personas and pseudonyms. That’s at

      For my author website, it’s a little more complex but not much. I separate the shorts, collections, novels & novellas, and so on, but keep the site only about myself. Each of my personas has his own mostly static website, much of which points back to the publisher site. My pen names don’t have their own website yet, but I’m working on that.

      I’m also moving toward cutting out my personas, but some of them just don’t want to go. (grin)


      • SAM TURNER

        Harvey, YOU started this stuff for me! Then you pointed out DWS’s site. I am a happy camper. Now to put my cover artist to work and take your class on that. And I thought NANOWRIMO was a challenge. HA! THIS (that you guys do) is absolutely FAN… tastic!
        Thanks for opening the door, the window – heck — just knocking down some walls. What fun! AND I learned a new way to say DAY’-um. How much better can it get!

  • Tim Tresslar

    Congratulations, Dean! I knew you’d finish, but I expected it to be a lot more difficult than what you’ve described. It seems like you did a really good job pacing yourself, certainly a good lesson for yours truly.

  • Dane Tyler

    GREAT work, Dean! Congratulations and job well done! It’s been a heck of a ride, watching you get it done. I can’t believe how easy you made it look. Focus, attitude, book…that simple. 🙂

    Again, congratulations!

  • Dave S.

    If some folks think writing a book in less than a year is a shock, wow are they going to be even more shocked now! You’ve not only shown that a novel per month is possible, but now a novel per week. I know that many of the pulp era writers wrote at such a clip, and a few writers still do today, but it’s not widely realized that this sort of thing is possible. Thanks for yet another inspiring “myth bust” Dean!

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, Silverberg wrote five novels a month about the length of the one I did for about five years. He said it made him rich.