Challenge,  On Writing

Writing In Public…


Decided to do it. Write a novel in public again, detailing it out in blog posts every night. Totally insane, but great fun, which is why I am doing this.

The last few days were interesting. The more I looked at the next ten to twelve days, and looked at deadlines, and publishing and other writing projects I will be doing, the more I realized how much I had to do. So the sane thing would be to just push off trying to do a novel quickly and in public. I’ve failed a number of times trying this because of scheduling issues the first year I was here in Las Vegas. But those issues are gone now.

Now I am writing fine, just stupidly busy with other projects.

But even being normally busy, I still pretty much write every day, so I figured why not give this a try again.  Just add a push with a deadline and track every detail.

I am going to start tomorrow, February 18th, 2021.

I will detail out my day here with one post per day, but will add to it as the day goes on, keeping track of exact time, what I am doing in general, and the number of words done. I will even tell you if I take a nap. I will do a summary of the word count at the end of each day.

I am shooting for 12 days instead of ten. And a 40,000 plus word novel. Twelve days will give my eye a better rest with all the other work I am doing as well. However, I think I will call this blog series “Writing a Novel In Half a Month.”

I could (in the old days before I lost one eye) do a novel of this length in about four days. 10,000 words a day was not unusual for me. And I could still do that if I cleared the decks and really was careful with screen time. But I want to maintain my normal life with this book, get lots of sleep, do all the other projects and meet other deadlines. So twelve days is sane for me at this point.

And I will be writing at a pace most could manage, even with a day job. Stay tuned, you will see how that will work.

Besides, 12 days works out to about two novels a month, which is why the title. And with blogs and introductions, which I count, doing this will take me over 100,000 words easy in February. Closer to 120,000 actually, so a decent amount.

I will not talk about the actual book itself or even the genre or title of it. I never do that when writing anything and won’t start now. So please don’t ask. This is just about time management and producing words. The book will be called “The book.” You know, like beginning writers call the thing they have been working on for years.

So I am finishing this prolog at 1:35 am on Thursday, February 18th. After a good night’s sleep, I will be back with a post starting Day #1 after my first session here.

(And this post totaled around five hundred and thirty words.)


  • Karen

    Go, Dean! I love it when you do this!
    Today I will look at my own schedule ahead to see if I can squeeze this in as a follow along. Might be fun to finish a book too- while publishing the two already in the pipeline! More later!



  • emmiD

    Your challenges are fascinating! I’ll be rooting for you. I’ve decided on my own challenge for March. I’m a little panicked even though I know it’s doable. It’s the daily persistence that worries me–because things interfere.

    If you get ahead, will that give you “time off”?

  • Philip

    I love seeing you do this, Dean. These are the posts that really crush a lot of myths.

    And I’ll keep saying this until the cows come home: 40k-50k is the perfect length for a novel, and I say that as a reader. The old pulp paperbacks were all around that length, maybe–maybe–60k. The pace is excellent and there’s zero fluff. I despise all the fluff you see in New York books nowadays.

    • dwsmith

      Yup, back when I started reading in the 1950s and for the next 40 years, standard books were between 35,000 and 60,000 tops. Most in the 40,000 to 50,000 length. Only New York greed and writer contracts forced them to get longer in the late 1980s. So all the books I loved and read and studies were in that length, so when I got out of the silliness and stupidity of New York, my novels went back to my natural length. And indie publishing allows me to do that.

      Kris’s has two natural lengths. She flat loves novellas, so she writes a lot of stories in the 25,000 word length, and then her natural length for novels tends to be around 100,000 words, give or take. So every writer is different because of how we imprinted when we started reading and how stories fit in our minds.

      • Jeremy

        Glad you posted that about Kris. The last few books I’ve written came out right around 30K and when I finished the last one a thought popped into my head. I should’ve made it longer. For about ten minutes I went back through looking for a place I could add something, then I stopped myself and said No! this story is done. Haha

  • allynh

    I’m reading through your book, “Writing into the Dark”, in honor of you latest writing-in-public.

    I wish there was a way for you to record your writing the way Sanderson did. The most powerful way to show how you “Write into the Dark” is to actually let us watch you typing away.

    What’s fun about watching the video is seeing that he will write something slowly, stop and delete that sentence, then quickly write more because he saw something better.

    I just noticed that he double spaces after each period. HA!

    Writing the Stormlight Archive volume 2 Rysn interlude: Part 1

  • Tony DeCastro

    Looking forward to this Dean. I’ve read (one of) your other Write a Novel in xx days, but it wasn’t in “real time” as you were doing. I suppose that isn’t a big thing as far as content goes, but I’m still looking forward to observing as it happens this time.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, should be interesting, considering I just did a list of “Things to do” that is over 15 items long. Well, at least I am slightly organized. (grin)

  • Sheila

    Title for how-to book: The Two Week Novel. Put that out, watch the screaming and denial start. Whoo boy!

    My preferred novel length is about 40 to 60K. I began reading in the early sixties, and that’s what you got. It was good, clean writing, no fluff, no invented stuff to make it longer. And like Dean, my preferred writing of novels is the same, though I really like writing short stories the best. 🙂

    • dwsmith

      I got a book out on how to write a novel in five days while traveling. People either like what I do with these kinds of things, or they just think I’m a nut case and ignore me. I’m fine either way. I’m still here after 40 some years and 200 novels. Go figure. (grin)