Is this a joke? Ten days? That can’t possibly be long enough to write a book.
I’m not making this up. There are plenty of successful authors who write books in 10 days. Some write them in even less time. But it can be done.
And I don’t mean just a short novella. I’m talking full-length books. Books with chapters, multiple storylines, and all the different features you would come to expect from a professional book.
But 10 days?
Yes, many authors can take years before their work is done. And I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong way to do this. Every author must work at their own speed. But if you want to be writing books a lot faster, you have to have a system in place to do just that. You can’t just sit down with an open Word document and try to knock it out in a little over a week.
So let’s talk about what you have to do in order to completely draft a book in 10 days.
First, let’s talk about expectations
We’re not talking about publishing a book in 10 days. It can be done, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Why? Because even if you take years to write a book, it needs to go through the editing process. If you want a professional book written and published, you need to make sure that you have time for that step. And unless you have 5 days to edit a book and 5 days to write the book, which is really putting pressure on yourself and your editor, let’s just assume that we’re talking about 10 days just to get the words on the page.
This is not a time to be a pantser
Plotters and pansters are different beasts.
Plotters want to have every detail of their book written down ahead of time. They want to work out all of the beats and major plot points so that they know what they are writing.
Pantsers, on the other hand, like to see where the story is going to take them. They like to play in the moment, and let the Muse guide them.
Again, there is no wrong way to go here. If you like to write without plotting, go ahead. But don’t expect your book to be done in 10 days.
No, if you want maximum speed, you need to know what you’re going to write. You don’t have time to sit and figure out plot lines. Those all need to be written out and outlined ahead of time. So writing a book in 10 days means plotting. Take the time to do this separately, and have all your plot points and characters fleshed out before you ever begin to write.
Forget about editing as you write
Many people like to edit as they write. If they see that they made a typo, they hit that backspace button and clean it up before they move on to the next sentence. Sometimes, they find themselves staring at a paragraph that they just wrote, tweaking it to make sure that the words are perfect before they continue.
As you can imagine, this is going to slow down a writer tremendously. Writing a book in 10 days is all about drafting, not editing.
That means that your number one focus needs to be writing. And only writing. Everything else is a completely different task with a completely different mindset.
Turn off the editor in your brain. You are not going to achieve any kind of speed in your writing if you’re trying to edit as you go.
Set a timer
One of the best ways to write as fast as possible is to set a timer and keep the fingers moving on the keyboard. Because you’re turning off your editor, you allow yourself to get as many words down on the page as you can in the amount of time that you need.
This also has the added bonus of increasing your speed over time. If you measure your output in a spreadsheet, tracking how long your writing sessions are and how many words you’re getting down, you’re going to see those numbers go up over time with practice.
Start small, however. Don’t sit down to write for 30 minutes if you’re not used to it. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Or even one minute. Go easy on yourself, and take as many breaks as you can. Once you get in the habit of doing this, you might be surprised at how quickly your book gets written.
Increase your speed
Obviously, you’re going to be limited by how quickly you can get words on a page. If you are a slow typer, you’re probably not going to have that much success.
So there are two ways that you can address this. First, you can practice typing. Take a typing test online. Learn more about the actual proper method of typing. Maybe you are wasting time and energy in ways that you didn’t realize.
But there’s another way to speed up your writing without having to find a way to make your fingers work faster. That way is dictation.
Before you skip this section, understand that dictation is actually a very powerful tool. Many authors and famous thinkers used dictation on a regular basis. Now, in those olden days, they had someone who wrote down what they were dictating. Today, we have an apps and services designed to allow you to dictate your work.
Some of these are free. On your phones, for example, most keyboards already have a voice typing feature. Google Docs has voice typing built-in. These tools are relatively accurate, and they don’t cost a penny to use. You can invest in a cheap microphone or even a really nice one, and you can have a setup that will allow you to knock out words at a much faster rate.
How much faster? It’s not uncommon for some writers to knock out 5000 to 7000 words an hour using dictation. Even if you’re able to increase your speed from 500 words an hour by typing to 1500 words an hour with dictation, you triple your typing speed just like that.
Plus, dictation allows you to hear your words as you are writing them. This can often help your language become more natural and more effective.
Of course, dictation will require editing when you’re done. But you can move that to the editing phase of your writing anyway. Plus, dictation is a very easy way to turn off the editor in your brain. Many dictation services and apps allow you to edit your work using certain voice commands. But they become so cumbersome to use, it’s far easier to simply dictate your work and then go back and edit it later.
Have a motivation
No matter what tools or services you use, or even what approach you take, writing a book in 10 days is difficult. This is especially true if you’re not used to drafting so quickly.
If you want to be able to write a book in 10 days, you need to have a bit of stamina. The easiest way to build your stamina and keep going is by having a very clear motivation for why you’re doing what you’re doing.
If you’re just writing a book in 10 days because you’re curious about it, you’re probably not going to be successful. Now, if you are writing a book in 10 days because you are building a business that requires you to publish books on a regular basis, and you know that there is a financial motivation in doing so, then you might be more prone to stick with your plan.
Your motivation can be anything, and only you know what works for you. But you need to have something in place ahead of time that you can lean on when the times get tough.
Clear your schedule if you can
This is one of the most effective tips on this list, but it’s also probably the most difficult. If you have a day job, you might have a hard time coming up with the time to write a book in 10 days. But if you can take some time off so that you can focus on your work as much as possible, you stand a much better chance of success.
That doesn’t mean you have to take off 2 weeks. If you use weekends as an example, you can get 9 days of writing in while only taking 5 days off of work at your day job.
You might have to get creative, but all the tips in the world won’t help you if you don’t have time to actually get to your desk and work on your book.
Finally, don’t worry about quality just yet. Quality comes in the editing process. But don’t assume that you are settling for a poorer quality book simply because you are generating it fast.
Many writers can create very good works while still focusing on speed. Plus, the more you write, the more you learn. If you are drafting a book in 10 days, you’re going to learn a lot about the writing process that could have taken years to learn had you worked at a more relaxed schedule.
For that reason alone, writing a book in 10 days is a worthy goal.