An old joke asks, “How do you eat an elephant?”. The answer is “one mouthful at a time.”
If someone asked me, “How do you write a novel?” I’d give them a similar response. My answer would be, “700 words at a time.”
One of the most important aspects to being a writer is to write. In my case, once I have worked out the outline of my novel, I aim to contribute 700 words each and every day. Maintaining this rate over a period of a week will see around 5,000 words generated. Maintain this for ten weeks and 50,000 words will have been created. If the average novel is 50,000 to 100,000 words, this means you can have a first draft ready anywhere between ten and twenty weeks after completing a detailed plan.
Of course, writing seven days a week is not easy. Even by maintaining this rate for 5 days a week, a first draft could be completed in fifteen to thirty weeks.
700 words a day is not an impossible task, even for someone with a full time job and family responsibilities. To achieve this may require anywhere between thirty and ninety minutes a day. This could be achieved by waking up early, using your lunch break or foregoing a television show.
Of course, this approach assumes you’ve been able to develop a detailed plan and you maintain consistency in your writing. More about both of these topics later.
The other really important message is that completion of a first draft does not equate to having a novel of publishable standard. That too is a topic for another day.
For now, and assuming you do want to write a novel, think about whether you could achieve a production rate of 700 words per day.
Originally Posted on February 1, 2012 by Pete Abela
Permission Granted to repost April 20, 2015