How to Write a Book in One Month

How to Write a Book in One Month. Click for writing tips and tricks so you enjoy the ride! Creative writing, hacks, books, novel writing, writer's life #Writingtips #books #novels #writingtips #creativewriting

You can write a book in one month

All it takes is an idea that excites you and a few tips I learned during Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month. Read on to find out how!

Writing a novel may seem like a huge undertaking given how many hours it takes to complete a draft. With holidays, family, work and everything else in life that gets between you and your story, you may struggle with it for almost two years. That’s how long it took to write my first. I had no idea what I was doing. My book writing journey chugged along like a car with a flat tire toward a brick wall crowned with barbed wire. Yep, it was that bad.

Then Nanowrimo came along. I finished a draft of the second book the series in twenty-two days. It took me nineteen to hit the fifty-thousand-word mark to win Nanowrimo this month. I’ve been on a seven-day break for company (you gotta do what you gotta do and family always comes first) and plan to finish the last few chapters this week. The first draft of my new novel will probably be around 60,000 words.

Outliners vs. Pantsers. It makes a huge difference in the writer's journey! Click to learn how to write a book in 1 month! writing tips, creative writing, books, writing and publication, funny, writers life #writing #writingtips #creativewriting #novelwriting

Before you write, come up with an idea for your book.

You need a spark. Something to start the carburetor to take you on a wild ride through writing an entire book. Even if you’re a pantser, like me, you should have a vague idea of the basis of the story. That becomes the foundation, (Okay. We’ll stick with the car metaphor), the road on which to drive your story.

It’s hard to get into the flow when your head is whiplashed from accelerating then slamming on the brakes because you don’t know where to go. Have you ever driven with someone who drives like that? Ow. You don’t have a map and your compass is so messed up, it reads north in every direction. Unless you’re an outliner who sticks to every detail with magnetic precision, you will run into a momentary dead end. No worries, my writer friend! Since you have a basic idea of what your story is about you’ll be able to blow through that wall with stream-of-conscious writing mentioned in this blog post.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but your super amazing idea should pop into your head at odd times and bug you while you’re driving to the grocery store. It should nag you to write its story when you’re in the shower. Pester you while peeling potatoes. The idea will worm its way into your work out. Don’t ignore its persistence or overzealous alliteration.


Inspiration can come from anywhere.

The idea for one of my novels came to me when I was frustrated and slid books on a shelf with a thump. Sounds boring but that scene starts the climax of a thriller. Another story idea popped into my tiny cranium when I drove up and down the hills in Maine while mist collected on my rental’s windshield. OoooOOOooOooo! Yep. That one’s a thriller too.  The book I wrote this month came from the view from a Scottish castle outside of Edinburgh where we stayed in October. Sometimes the scene ends up in the beginning or near the end. The fun part is writing what happens to set up that scene that got you excited and then what happens next.

Get a novel idea? Write it down fast.

I wrote the bookstore scene thirty minutes later while waiting for a hair appointment. I typed it in Notes on my iPhone then emailed it to myself. I do that a lot.

I wrote a scene for my new fantasy in that castle’s library while looking out the window. It takes place much later in the story, maybe even in book two, but the idea shifted my imagination into high gear and it hasn’t stopped motoring.

When I returned to Boulder, I wrote pages of notes to work out the world, rules, and logic before writing the first page of the novel to make the fantasy believable. (It’s a lot more work than thrillers.) I only used about a tenth of my ideas, but the story makes sense, to me anyway. We will see.

This year, I won Nanowrimo but it’s my first foray into fantasy and I write thrillers. I had no idea if I could pull it off. I had a few, “This is so stupid!” moments when I forced an idea. As soon as I let it go and let it flow, (Hmm. I like that rhyme.) the story eased into the fantastical elements at the appropriate times. Then there are the November birthdays, the start of ski season, and family who flew into town for Thanksgiving.

So how did I do it?

The 20-minute rule for writers.

Many times, I wasn’t in the mood to sit down and write. The fantasy genre intimidated me. I used Pomodoro’s technique, but cut it down from the twenty-five-minute rule to twenty. I told myself, “Come on! You can write for twenty minutes!” Every single time, I wrote for at least an hour. Once you have momentum, you can take your foot off the gas pedal and coast.

Find a place to write your book.

My kitchen counter is my old reliable. I would do the majority of my writing while sipping coffee every morning. Then, I would walk upstairs to my office. My Bichon, Roxy, became restless this fall. She started pestering me to play every morning. I had to come up with a new location. I had been sick for two weeks in October and brought my laptop to bed with me. Roxy slept at my side for hours. Peace and quiet. Yay!

It worked so well, during Nanowrimo in November, I wrote 50,000 words tucked under the covers with the drapes drawn. I have to admit to feeling guilty about it, but I was hitting 2000 – 3000 words a day, consistently and it worked. Why fight it? And it was so comfortable.

I’ve written chapters in coffee shops. I find it funny how they can be so noisy and I’m borderline ADD, but I can tune it out. The key is that no one is going to pester you like my Bichon, hopefully.

Lots of warm drinks

Most writers speak of snacking and carbo-loading while writing. My motor runs on coffee and tea so I keep a mug filled at all times. Keeps me hydrated. When I run out, I rev up my engine by taking a break to fill my mug again. (Even I’m getting tired of the metaphor, but it’s so hard to stop.)

BTW, I’d switch to decaf by noon or I’d be so hyperactive, I wouldn’t be able to sit still.

Taking breaks from writing.

This is the BIGGEST change I made. Instead of pounding the keys for hours on end, I forced myself to take breaks. I’d eat a meal, watch a half-hour of a movie and work on a puzzle, run errands, read, take a walk, go skiing, anything to get my mind off my writing. Later, sometimes much later, I’d jump right back into the driver’s seat.

Writing trick alert!

Here’s a trick for you. Quit writing before you hit a writing wall. Sometimes I start a new chapter and stop towards the end of a scene while the ideas are percolating. Why? Because when you sit down again, you will be able to continue your flow. It’s a heck of a lot easier than waiting to take a break when your ideas in your brain are exhausted. (See what I did there? I held back. I could have said out of gas.) You might write into a dead end or a twelve car pile up. It might be hard to start again with the walls closed around your characters, while they bump into each other like robots and have inane conversations. Writing words just to maintain a word count total is never the way to write a first draft. Stop. Breathe. Stretch. Go outside. Make sure you’re wearing pants, of course, then hit the keys again.

Finding time to write

I had always wondered how people with kids or a full-time job ever wrote a book. I’m a full-time writer and have tons of time. But in the last couple of weeks (especially on the weekends), I didn’t have time to write until late in the day. I had never written chapters of books after dinner. But at 8:00 or 9:00 PM, I’d tuck myself into bed. Instead of reading a book, I’d write my own. Then I’d read for a half-hour before turning out the light.

Funny thing. I slept really well with lots of thoughts of my new characters dancing in my head.

Get excited about your novel!

As my novel progresses, the characters continue to flesh out. Their world is transforming from black and white letters to living color as the plot twists and turns. I’m hooked. I’m excited. I want to know what happens to everyone. Only knowing the basic plot points gives me the freedom to let my imagination take hairpin turns on two wheels while sticking with the general direction of the story. I never know how a scene is going to play out until I write it. It can be very exciting with the windows down and the wind whipping at my face. (Please make it stop!)

I’m in the middle of the heart-pounding climax.  I have a general idea. BUT do more people die? Do these challenges change my protagonist in some way? What decisions will she make? Will mistakes be made? What kind of diabolical evil will she face next? With fantasy, there’s so much more I can toss into the plot to mess with the characters. It feels magical. I feel magical. Lol!

I get the exact same edge of my seat feeling while reading a good book. I’m not saying this first draft is good, it’s not even meh. It’s terrible. It will go through lots of revisions like everything else I write. But it’s fun. I enjoy the thrill of writing. (I made it through two paragraphs without a car, truck, or minivan. Ha!)

After spending so much time in revisions while finishing another thriller over the last year, it felt good to set everything aside to focus on a creative project every day. I keep thinking if I can write a draft in less than three weeks, how many can I crank out in a year?

The benefit of writing every day:

I wrote my last 800 words to win Nanowrimo then drove to the mall to buy birthday presents. I thought it would feel very satisfying to hit 50,000 words but it felt strange and unsettling to stop. When I returned home, I opened my laptop and wrote a little more before running to the airport. Writing every day has become a habit. I want to finish my new novel. I need to finish it. I WILL finish it.

If I quit writing for a long time before a first draft is complete, I lose the flow. All those creative juices dry up. I have to reread the whole draft to refresh my memory. Sometimes the energy and excitement are hard to recapture. There’s no way I’ll ever let that happen again.

Now that writing so many words a day is a habit, I should be done with my book by Friday, November 30th. If I hit a traffic jam, I’ll let my imagination take me in another direction. Compasses and road maps are great, but the real excitement happens when I discover a new road; one with lots of twists and turns. Who knew writing novels would be so much fun?

Are you a writer? Do you have any tips to share? Are you a reader who can tell when a book has hit the I-80 stretch of boredom through Nebraska?

PS – Since I finished before November 20th, I didn’t validate my 50,000 words until just now. I have to admit that the short congratulatory video made my eyes well up. I threw my hands in the air. Now I feel just like I did in 2014. I’m official.

Congratulations, WRIMO! 50K

Feeling pretty triumphant after winning nanowrimo!

Click for more blogging and writing tips.

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How to Write Thousands of Words a Day

Make a Vision Board and Reach Your Goals!

On Writing, Querying, and Perseverance

How to Write a Book in 1 Month! Click to find out how you can write one too! Writing tips, Writing novel, Books, writing and publishing, Creative writing #writers #writing #writingcraft #books

75 thoughts on “How to Write a Book in One Month

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  1. Good job. Self motivation, wherever it comes from, is alway the key. Just so you know, coffee and tea are diuretics. If you really want your brain working, match every cup of coffee with a glass of water.


  2. The trouble is that I only write when the motivation hits…that’s why I haven’t released anything since 2015, but you and Stephen King have written loads!


    1. Start making a list of ideas in your phone. When you’re unmotivated to write, check it out. It may spark an idea! I run into that with blogging sometimes. I have tons of things to write about, but I need to be excited about my posts.
      Thanks, Daya!


  3. Some good tips here! I think the secret is to discover through trial and error what works for you and then stick to it. I remember reading “101 Habits of Successful Screenwriters” and noting how no two writers were alike — some wrote in the morning, some at night; some outlined, some let it flow; etc. But the real key, no matter what we try, is to get started!


    1. EXACTLY!!! I never would have thought of working at 8:00 night. Now I look forward to it. My monkey brain slows down before sleeping. LOL!
      Are you working on a screenplay?
      Thanks, Paul! Always great to “see” you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! Congrats, Susie! That’s wonderful. With work and family responsibilities, my NaNo didn’t quite go as planned, but I did learn a lot about my writing style. A short chapter a week is about what I can do, while doing the required research and not letting the rest of my life fall apart. However, I’m always thinking about the characters and their stories, as you say–in the shower, out driving… Got to keep them alive, even away from the computer!


    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca!
      That is so great that you learned about your writing style. Any writing counts!!! Some day, you’ll have more time to write. Now that I’m an empty nester, I don’t have any excuses, but sometimes having unstructured time is a problem. I’ve learned to make self-imposed deadlines and carve out break time instead of spinning my wheels. LOL! That metaphor snuck out!


  5. Congratulations, Susie!! It’s almost as much fun seeing another author getting excited about a project as is when I’m excited about a project. One of the things I’ve learned is to sit down and start writing, even if I’m not excited about it. I may spin my wheels a bit (now you got me doing it…lol) but eventually I get into the flow.


    1. Ha! I love it, Kassandra. There are enough driving metaphors for another blog post. LOL! I’m the same way and really get into other writer’s accomplishments. Anything to keep my motor running… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So interesting to read all about your writing techniques Susie. Fascinating to learn just how you work and some of your writing tricks. I’ve always wanted to write something but never had the self-discipline or compunction to do it. Wish i did.


    1. It’s a super huge time commitment so you gotta love it! Most people have a story to tell, but there’s also the huge learning curve in learning how to write a book. I’ve been at it since 2011 and I’m still learning!!! I picked up a book written in 1906 and learned something from the way the author described everything. I’ll always be a sponge.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It totally is!! I put a deadline of the 18th in my head since my mom came out that night. I learned that I can seriously motivate when I want to. Now, if I could just motivate to go to gym every day. LOL! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I did take a mighty walk yesterday up in Breck, but turned around in a snowstorm for fear of falling into a placer mine. Skiing today! Now if I could just get into the gym on a Tuesday, Thursday schedule….

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Susie. Once again you have taken time out to help others. What a wonderful trait you are blessed with. This time, instead of just saying thank you, I have taken up the gauntlet. I have started a first novel, a murder mystery. I just finished by first sitting and have 1035 words. I have threatened to do this over the past few years, but could never pull the trigger.

    It’s very true what they say. It’s a matter of putting the first words on the page. From there it just seems to flow. Ideas about the story change but the satisfaction of creating remains constant. Thanks again for the encouragement. If I follow this through to the end you will surely be on my acknowledgement page!


    1. Awwww! You just gave me shivers, Al and the best kind!
      Writing by the seat of your pants in mystery is the best. I’ve heard many mystery writers interviewed like Ian Rankin, who doesn’t know “who dunnit” until the end. Most pick the least likely person and then rethread the story to make sense but not give it away. That’s how I write. Good luck and check in once in a while to let me know how it’s going!!! 🙂 Thank you!


      1. Absolutely, Susie. I don’t have a clue about the whodunit yet, but I have chosen the murder weapon and starting to weave it into the story, ever so subtlely. Patty, my wife, is my proof reader and she is so excited!!


  8. I have hit 50052 words after losing and rewriting 800 words, computer glitch , this morning. Tomorrow which is supposed to be rainy I want to pound out another large group of words to try to finish my book. I will validate it in the late evening. I have loved my sixth Nanowrimo. Even when I have missed days I have been able to catch up the word count on the next day. Once the story stick till I skipped to the next chapter, completed that and then went back and finished the previous chapter. It was my most wordy day.


    1. Wow! Congrats!
      There must have been something in the air or my MacBook Pro because mine froze up this morning too. It gave me about 25 recovered Word files of my second to last backup. Luckily, I backed up my latest and sent it to myself through email on Tuesday. Gave me a heart attack! I double checked just now to make sure. One of them days!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats. I just validated NaNo novel last night. Good thing as came home to no internet! I always stop when I know what I want to write next – gives me juice when I sit down. I like the focus of NaNo and being part of a community. Story not done so will be writing later tonight.


  10. I love this line “My book writing journey chugged along like a car with a flat tire toward a brick wall crowned with barbed wire. “…nothing like starting a story with a strong image (and hmmm, that could even be the start of a novel/story if you only switch out/altered the first 4 words…)
    great post and write on!


  11. Great Post! Well Done! I don’t know if I will ever be able to even start such a task as a book in a month,most of my enthusiasm is gone,s, so short stories may start again, but I get those moments of thought – we will see.


  12. Wow, this is so impressive!
    I find it difficult just writing my 4 blogs in the first week of the month so I can schedule these for the month, and concentrate on building my replacement photography site. I’ll try to follow some of your advice.


    1. Thank you!
      Blog posts are different since they are short individual stories that have to be polished for posting. If I honed every chapter to be ready for publication, it would take me forever to write a book. LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Many many congrats on completing the Naniwrimo. I tried a few years back and failed and never had the courage to participate again.

    Writing daily is a habit and this is a fabulous post with great tips. I hope I can incorporate some of this and find my writing mojo back.

    Aditi |


    1. Thanks so much, Akaushiva!
      I hope so too!
      I started the month with the idea that if the idea didn’t gel, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I would still have the start of a book. I went for it and it all came together. Good luck with your book idea!


  14. Hi Susie,
    What an amazing post. I started blogging not too long ago. I am loving it and hope to write a book at some point. At this time I am happy to just post a blog post per week. Like you said setting aside time everyday to write is a great idea and making notes in the phones. Thank you for sharing.


  15. “knowing the basic plot points gives me the freedom…”. I’m a pantser, for sure. (My first memoir took seven years). But, this phrase jumped out at me and I want to give plotting a try. Thank you.


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