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5 Things I Learned From Writing 50k Words Of A Novel In Just 1 Month

How To Write 50K In 1 Month

Earlier this year I finally got round to writing a novel (91k words) and absolutely loved the whole process. As November appeared on the horizon, I decide to take the challenge of writing 50K of a new novel in November.

That works out at around 1,667 words every single day. I made it to 50K and came in at just over 52 thousand words!

So here are five thing I learned while doing the challenge. Ready? Let’s go …

1) Preparation is key

In the weeks leading up to November I plotted the outline and story beats and spent time thinking about the stakes for each character. These helped drive the story forwards and have been there when I’ve floundered. I did character sheets for each main character so I know what drives them and why.

Someone once described novel writing as being like a boat journey. When you set off you can see the shore but at some point the shore disappears and it’s just you and the deep, blue sea until you see your destination. Of course, scenes change as you start writing, but having that spine to go back to means that you don’t end up sinking when the start line is out of sight.

My takeaway: It really is worth doing the groundwork properly before starting on the fun bit of the writing. We all know Lee Child writes without planning, but he’s Lee Child. MORE: A Better Way To Set Your Goals (And Achieve Them)

2) You just have to get on with it

We writers can sometimes be a bit precious. We need our favourite mug, our lucky socks or the stars to be in alignment before our muse can appear. Knowing that I had committed to writing every day made me much less lazy than usual. Even if it had been a long, intense day at work I still sat down and added some words, if just a handful.

On days where the writing felt like climbing Kilimanjaro in roller skates, I gave myself a one hour time limit. Once that hour was up, I stopped. It’s amazing how a one hour target stops me faffing around on social media too!

My takeaway: On difficult days it helped to reframe the writing as less of a dreaded task and more of a gift to myself. Writing is fun, kids!

3) Slow and steady wins the race

I tend to be more hare than tortoise and will have marathon writing sprints before collapsing in a heap. My daily word count was lower but I still made my target by plodding along steadily. I often stopped at my daily count even if I wanted to carry on. You still have a life to get on with.

During November I managed to cram in performing at spoken word events, singing at choir gigs and a few nights out on top of work and the usual daily commitments.

My takeaway: Just remember what all work and no play did to novelist Jack Nicholson in The Shining!

4) Find your way of getting back into the story

You don’t really have time to wander lonely as a cloud or to gaze at the bottom of an absinthe glass when writing every day. If time is short you need to get straight into it and I found that allowing my mind to drift while doing mundane tasks like cooking, showering or walking to the shop helped me mentally prepare for that day’s writing.

I also make a playlist of music and use that to get my head into the story. My key song for this project is Robyn’s Dancing On My Own and a quick bop around the kitchen to get the blood pumping and brain fizzing.

My takeaway: Find the small moments during the day where you can allow your mind to wander into your story without causing danger to yourself or anyone else!

5) Kitchen disco!

Talking of music, getting physically ready for writing is helpful too. I’m often surprised at how many people don’t have a daily boogie around their kitchen as part of the creative process! I use my playlist or just some upbeat favourites, let it all go and hope no one walks in. Our families already know we writers do things a bit differently, right?

My takeaway: throw some weights around, jog up and down the road or walk the dog. Getting physically ready is as important as getting mentally ready.

Bonus tip:

Rewards can be motivating! I was going to treat myself to a fancy beauty advent calendar but they had all sold out (that’ll teach me!) so I bought myself a cute necklace as a ‘well done’ present.

Reward yourself with a meal out, trip to the theatre or little personal gift (maybe all three) and enjoy that feeling of accomplishment of making it to 50K. MORE: How To Write Faster Like A Pro 

Right, I’ve got another 40k words of this book to write so I’d better get on with it!

Good luck with your own 50K in one month!

BIO: Siân Rowland is an education adviser, trainer and author with a background as a deputy head teacher and local authority adviser. She advises on and creates education resources for clients including Scouting UK and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She continues to work with schools across the country while working on her playwriting and scriptwriting career.

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