Before you panic and begin hyperventilating after reading this headline, hear me out. Not only CAN you write a complete manuscript draft in less than a year and in one draft, but you absolutely SHOULD!
The more time you spend working on your manuscript draft, the more likely it is you’ll keep finding ways (subconsciously or otherwise) to drag the process out longer and longer. And the longer it takes you to write that first manuscript, the longer it will be before you can get to that next book you’re already thinking about (don’t deny it!).
Besides, the sooner you can complete your draft, send it off to your professional editor, and prepare for your launch, the sooner you can release your book baby to the universe and start getting those blessed royalty deposits you’ve been dreaming of.
Okay, but HOW on earth do I write an entire manuscript in less than a year, let alone six months?
The “how” is more manageable and less stressful than you think. A lot of new writers have this perception, which they typically hear from other new authors, as to how long it takes to complete their manuscript, as well as how many drafts it should take. These authors should start jamming their fingers in their ears anytime they hear another new author saying how things “should” be done.
The reality is, the basic math does not support the idea that it should ever take you more than six months, let alone a year or more!
Don’t believe me? Well, I’m not a math wizard by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, despite having straight A’s in every other subject throughout high school, my parents had to hire a tutor for me in eleventh grade…for basic algebra.
Still, I’m able to perform basic math calculations, especially since I keep my lovely little purple bling calculator near me at all times.
Before I show you the math, let’s do a quick refresher on word count. Here’s a graphic that shows you the average acceptable word counts for the most common categories and genres of fiction.
You can also find more indepth information about novel word count topics here.
Now, with that in mind, let’s say you’re writing a suspense novel. That means you should be aiming for an average word count of 80,000. If it took you an entire year to write this novel, how many words a day do you think that has you writing?
Well, thanks to my handy dandy aforementioned calculator, I’ve already done the math for you:
80,000 (word count) / 12 (months) = 6,666 word per month
6,666 (words per month) / 30 (days) = 222 words per day
If it’s really taking you a full year to write a book, you’re averaging less than 250 words written per day!
I know you have other areas of your life that demand your attention and other priorities which take precedence over your writing most days (as well they should), however, if you truly want to be an author, and your goal is to make any sort of living off your book sales, those numbers just are not going to cut it. And if you can’t set aside enough time to write more than 200 words a day, it may be time to reevaluate your future plans.
“Okay, so, how do I write a full manuscript in only one draft AND in less than six months?”
It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
It just takes determination, drive, and discipline. You should approach novel writing the way you would approach any other thing in your life you are passionate about.
For example, if you really love roses, and you always dreamed of owning your own flower shop, despite how much you have always loved buying flowers and having them in your home, that fact alone would not be enough for you to start, build, and grow a successful flower shop. You’d have to first dig in and learn everything there is to know about roses AND running a flower business. Then, you’d also have to learn all you could possibly learn about business and online marketing. And the learning process would never end, no matter how long your shop was in business.
Well, guess what?
You should absolutely approach novel writing the same way you would any other business venture!
Why? Because unless you are simply writing this book for posterity, and it will go straight from the printer to your own bookcase where no one but your grandchildren will ever read a single word you wrote, being an author is absolutely a business venture!
Here are the very first steps you should take in order to write ONE complete manuscript in six months or less:
– Designate a period of time for planning your story!
– Set a launch date on a calendar for about 6 months out!
– Set a productive yet manageable writing schedule and stick to it!
Let’s break down each step in slightly more detail, shall we?
Designate a Planning Period
This part is the most overlooked yet most important part of the writing process. Way too often, new writers get so excited about the idea of becoming an author and their new story idea, they just dive right in and start writing. And I bet you can relate to this, too. I know I certainly can. But taking some time first to get all your writing ducks in a row will help you in two major ways.
– It will make your manuscript ten times better than if you just “winged it.”
– It will help prevent from getting “stuck” as often so you can write more efficiently and even faster.
Look at your calendar/planner and set aside one to two weeks for you to thoroughly develop your idea, create your cast of characters, build your setting, and make a to-do list of ALL the things you must do for your book to be successful once you publish it. For a full list of all the steps you must take before you launch, be sure you’re signed up for our newsletter, and you’ll instantly receive our Ultimate Book Launch Planner for free!
Set Calendar Deadlines
In the last step, you made a task list of all the things you really should be doing in order to have a successful book launch. Now, in this step, you’re going to pull out your planner or wall calendar – anything you can keep right by your writing station and visible at all times – and you’re going to pick a date 6 – 9 months from now when you want to launch your book. Then, using our Ultimate Book Launch Planner, go through and mark all the important dates and deadlines, including one 3 – 6 months from now that says “Finish Manuscript!” This will not only give you a visual cue and remind you of all your important deadlines, it will motivate you and serve as a way to be accountable to yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much motivation, encouragement, and accountability can drastically improve your writing career. It’s why I quit my corporate career and started coaching authors full time! I love seeing the results authors get when they do the hard work required of them.
Create Writing Schedule
With all your proverbial ducks in a row and your notes and outline ready to transform into a novel, the one final thing you must do before you can start the writing process is to create a productive yet manageable writing schedule. I can’t give away ALL my secret sauce here (that’s reserved for my VIP clients!) but I will tell you this… the best, most effective way to create a writing schedule that will not only be reasonable but will absolutely allow you to finish your book in 3 months (or less) is finding the days and the times when you are less distracted and still have the energy and clear headedness to be able to create something you can be proud of. Mark those time slots on those days down on your calendar or in your planner and STICK TO THEM!
If you want all the secret sauce on how to create and stick to a productive and manageable writing schedule, consider hiring me as your writing coach! Let’s chat about it!
Now that we’ve established the fact that you can certainly write an entire manuscript in 3 – 6 months, let me explain why I take the firm stance that…
in 95% of the cases, authors need no more than one manuscript draft.
So often, I hear authors telling me they’re on their third, fourth, or even eighth draft of their manuscript. But I want to help you avoid this painstakingly tedious process, which will also, in the end, help cut back the time you spend writing the manuscript.
Hyper fixating on writing the best possible manuscript and in turn writing multiple drafts can lead to:
– Perfectionism: trust me…your book will NEVER be “perfect” in your eyes
– Imposter syndrome: the more time you spend on your draft, the more you’ll start to doubt your own abilities
– Burnout: the last thing you want is to get sick of your own book!
And if you’re sitting there thinking it’s impossible to write a manuscript in one clean draft…you are correct.
I never said you can’t revise your manuscript more than once. I’m talking about not completely starting over every single time you type THE END.
You only need one manuscript draft. You can work off and revise the same first draft as many times as you need to, but please, please do not waste your time starting over from scratch each and every time you want the change something.
In my 10 plus year career coaching clients and editing their books, I’ve never once told a client they need to scrap their entire manuscript and start over. And I never will.
– It’s incredibly time consuming.
– Your (first draft SHOULDN’T be perfect.
– Only worry about getting the story down on the page.
– Worrying about the little plot holes is what professional editors are for!
(if you would like information on how you can become an editing client, fill out this short form)
It’s going to take some patience on your part, as well as some grace and allowing yourself to be creative and perfectly imperfect while writing, but even if you realize you have made a mistake as you are writing, you do NOT need to rewrite the whole darn thing!
Simply make a note of it, highlight it, and/or flag it with a bubble comment in the margin so either you can fix it during revisions, or your editor can fix it when it goes to him/her.
But when you do find errors, mistakes, or plot holes in your manuscript, and/or when you do begin revising that one (and only) manuscript draft…
DON’T DELETE A DAMN THING!
If I had a dime for every time I said this to my clients/students/followers, I could retire early!
Never delete anything. Even scenes you don’t care for whatsoever. You never know when it might work in another manuscript or even lead to a whole new story idea!
Instead, keep a document where you can “dump” cut sentences, scenes, or chapters, call it your “Dump Doc,” and save it for anytime you need inspiration or a little nudge figuring out what to write next.
While it sounds daunting and super overwhelming to hear me say you absolutely can (and should) take only 3 to 6 months to write a complete manuscript in one single draft, hopefully, I’ve shown you that it’s more than just possible.
It’s the best, most effective, most time efficient way to make your writing dreams come true.
So, the next time you are ready to start a new book, remember that it doesn’t have to take you years and several drafts to get to launch day.
There is a better way.
And if you ever need someone to help you stay on track, set a manageable but productive writing schedule, or encourage you, motivate you, and hold you accountable, be sure to reach out for your free coaching consultation with yours truly by visiting the CONTACT US page and filling out the short form. Someone will get back to you within 24 hours with directions on how to set up your first call.