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I talk to groups about this fairly often, and sometimes I feel kind of guilty. Because there really is no "trick" to writing a book in 30 days. You can do it with enough PBIC ...

That would be Put Butt In Chair. 

It's true, just putting in the time will get you pretty far. But how do you determine how much time? How do you organize and plan ahead, so you can determine a deadline for your book?

There are a couple of formulas that can help. And before you run screaming—because MATH—give this a shot. It may actually reduce a lot of the stress of this.

TWT / TDC = TDT

There ya go! Now ... go write!

Or ... you could hang around, find out what those letters mean, and how they work. That's good too.

TWT = Total Word Target

TWT stands for Total Word Target. In short, this is the length of your book. This is the number of words you need your book to be in order to actually be a book.

You may be lucky enough to know exactly what your TWT should be. Most people aim for around 100K words. Some people shoot for 50K words. Either is fine. More is fine. Even less can be fine.

But if you'd like something that feels a bit more specific, try this:

  1. Go to your local book store and find three books that are more or less like the book you want to write.
  2. Find an average page in the first book. This would be a middle-of-the-chapter kind of page, with no large gaps for chapter heads and no images or charts eating up space. A basic page of text is what you're after.
  3. Find an average line of text for that page. The second line of a paragraph is usually perfect. Count the number of words on that line. Now count the number of lines on the page. Multiply those two numbers.
  4. Multiply your answer by the number of pages in the book. Now you have a more-or-less accurate word count for the entire book.
  5. Repeat this for all three of the books you selected, then add your totals for each book together and divide by three. Now you have the average length of all three books—and that's your new TWT.

TDC = Target Days to Complete

In simplest terms, TDC is your deadline. And, since you're glued to this article at the moment, you already have one in mind. We're trying to get you a book, from brain to page, in just 30 days. Totally doable. 

Of course, you could set this to any value you want, technically. 365 days (seems kind of long). 90 days (reasonable). 1 day (holy crap ... are you Stephen King?!?). 

For now, let's stick to 30 days. 

TDT = Total Daily Target

Now that you have your TWT and your TDC, you can figure out your TDT with basic math.

So let's say you determined you want to write 50K words in 30 days.

50,000 / 30 = 1,667 words per day

Get it?

To write 50K words in 30 days, you just have to PBIC and commit to 1,667 words per day. In terms of page count, that's about 4-5 pages per day. 

But what if you want your weekends free?

In that case, the formula would look like this:

50,000 / 30 days - 8 weekend days = TDT

50,000 / 22 = 2,273 words per day

A bit more challenging to do on a daily basis, at about 6-7 pages per day, but still doable.

Now, all of these numbers are for generating your first draft. But what if you wanted to write, edit, and publish your book in just 30 days?

The 15-Day First Draft

My advice—write the first draft in 15 days instead of thirty, and use the rest of your time to edit and do other publishing-related stuff (layout, cover design, etc.)

If you were to commit to writing 3,500 words per day, you could knock out a first draft in just 15 days. So that's about 8-9 pages per day to go from idea to page in half a month. 

Sounds like a lot, I know. And it is a lot, for most people. But would it surprise you to know that I and hundreds of other authors (especially some of my author coaching clients) do this all the time? In fact, once I'm on a roll, I can often chunk out 8-10K words per day, which means I could write a 50K book in a week.

The thing is, "getting on a roll" comes pretty easily when you get into a daily writing habit. Once you've trained your brain to do this, it kicks in automagically. And if you commit to writing something every single day, it's that much easier to kick it into automagic gear. 

Here's what I recommend:

  • Start small — Rather than trying to force yourself to go from zero to 3,500 in one go, start by committing to writing 500 words per day. That's a little over a page of writing.
  • Once you've got that down, try bumping it up to 1,000 words per day. And then 1,500. 
  • The easiest way to do this "bump" is to split up your writing time. Write 500 words in the morning, and then 500 words at lunch. Then add 500 words in the evening when you're ready to do 1,500 word per day.
  • Once you're used to that, start increasing the word count of each session. Write 1,000 words for one session, then two, then three. If you get up to 3,000 words per day this way, you can add that extra 500 words by spreading them out among all three sessions, or just gun it for one of your usual sessions and knock it out.

Easy? Not so easy.

I won't lie to you. This isn't going to happen in an explosion of awesome. You're building a muscle here, and it takes time to build a muscle. But if you do it, you will not ... and this is so important I want to start again ... you will not regret the time and effort and energy you spend on it. Getting yourself into a daily, high-output writing habit will benefit you in ridiculous ways you've likely never thought of before. 

Go. Try this out. And let me know how it works for you. I'm here if you need a pep talk or some advice. If you'd like some author coaching, chat me up and we'll discuss a rate and schedule. If you just want some cheerleading, I can offer that, too! 

Good luck! And be sure to let me know  how this is going. Call me at 281-809-WORD (9673) and leave me a voicemail about your progress. I may even play your comments on my Wordslinger Podcast!

You can also email me using the contact button, or leave a comment on this post. 

Good luck!

 


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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