I was inspired by my friend, Susan Kim, to write about how easy (literally) it is to write your first novel. We were talking about writing and the ups and downs of it, when it occurred to me that the majority of people I know dream of writing a book and yet fewer than 5% of them have actually done it. So, as I was taking my Scottish shower (see my earlier blog post for this most energizing and creative way to cleanse yourself – Take a Cold Shower) I started thinking about this more. I decided it was article worthy.
Did you know that most publishers consider 40,000 words to be the minimum word count in a submitted book? My autobiography, Survivor, has approximately 100,000 words in it. That said, there are a few authors that stuff 160,000 or more words into a book; which is more like an encyclopedia in weight and reading time! For simplicity’s sake, I decided to do a few calculations based around a 120,000 word book. This will give us more than enough for an average sized book. The other piece of the calculation that we need to guess is how many words per minute you can type. I believe that the average person in today’s computer age can type 60 WPM (words per minute). This is even true of single digit hunt-and-peckers like me. I can actually type close to 100 WPM with only my pointer fingers and thumbs! I assume most of my friends with aspirations of writing a book can beat the average of 60 WPM, but let’s stick with 60 to cover all bases.
Now for the fun part (I love math). The calculation part… Considering 60 WPM, you could literally type 120,000 words in under 34 hours. You read that right! For all of you procrastinators out there, you literally could write the rough draft of an entire book without sleeping! As a matter of fact, this is exactly how Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky, when he sat non-stop and wrote the entire thing in three and a half days!!!
Now, most of us mere mortals cannot sit in front of a keyboard for 34 hours straight. At the very least there are things like food and potty breaks. However, don’t you think this is encouraging?? Now let’s dive a little deeper and be more realistic.
Most writers that I have read say that they normally write for about two hours per day. With that in mind, you could bang out a 120,000 word book in under 17 days
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. Even two hours per day is a bit tough for us weekend warrior types. So, what if I asked you, “Could you find thirty minutes each day to write?” Think about it… Can’t ANYONE squeeze thirty minutes out of a super busy day to write? Of course we can. Now that we know what we can absolutely do, let’s look at the math:
At one half-hour per day, you could write a 120,000 (remember this is a thick book) word rough draft in 69 days (actually 68, but I really love the number 69 – plus this gives us one cheat day. HA!) So, even with some missed days, any of us could type in a rough draft in a mere two-and-a-half months!!!
What are you waiting for? Stop being a lazy procrastinator and get off your ass! I mean it! It is seriously that easy!
Now… Since we got the math part out of the way… In future blog posts I will talk about ways to outline and write your desired story. And, where to pull creative juices from. And, finally we’ll talk about things like polishing your rough, getting it edited, and finding an agent and/or publisher. This is fun! And, simple! Remember what I like to say, “Just because something is simple, does not make it easy.” And, writing is a perfect example of this quote. However, now that you have the math laid out before you, you have no excuses!
While you’re waiting for my future writing posts, be sure to checkout all of my previous ones in the InkSlinger section.
I honestly expect to hear from at least one friend in three months time who adamantly thanks me and thrillingly says, “I did it! I wrote my first novel!”
Love you all,
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Hi Vaughn, how’s your summer been? You always sound as if everything’s on the up, ever more exciting!
Hi Janice! I am pretty much always “on the up.” Mostly due to attitude, which I believe is 93% of EVERYTHING.
Look for an upcoming blog post about the down times I (and everyone else) experience and how we handle them.
Thanks for the support and comments!
I really needed this post. Seeing the time calculated out mathematically makes it easier to wrap my brain around. I have a few outlines – non-fiction is my genre, and none of them are going very far. It is easy to get all tangled up in words.
Your ideas have inspired me and I can’t wait to check out more of your inkslinger section. Seeing that you are HIV positive makes me have even more admiration for you. I was diagnosed with HCV 3 years ago and finished treatment with success. Unfortunately, I was left with non-alcoholic End Stage Cirrhosis. My mental fatigue slows me down a bit.
Your attitude matches mine in that I know anything is possible when we have possibility thinking. I believe finishing a book is possible!
All my best wishes to you on your continued success.
It’s great to read your inspirational comment! Thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing. I had Hep C too, and was able to beat it about nine years ago. That was literally ten months of a living hell (as I’m sure you know). However, it is so cool to have beaten it. I have many hemophiliac brothers who are not able to beat for various reasons and HCV is killing some of us off. Write your book! And then please share so I can read it!
Keep up the inspiration and positivity!!!