How to Write a Novel in 30 days

16257558Ok, so you asked for it, and here it is.   My recipe for writing a 60,000 word novel in 30 days. 

For those of you who are wondering what I am talking about, I posted on Facebook yesterday that I was in Corfu for 6 weeks, and was planning to write a novel in 30 days.  If 100 people or more were interested in how to do it, I promised to share the secret.  We are currently at 173 and counting, so here it is.


Writing a novel in 30 days only works under certain conditions.  

You’ve got to really have a novel you want to write.  You have to have a plot in mind, characters and scenes that have been popping into your head since a while.  You’ve got to actually be pregnant for my system of induced labor to work!

It may be helpful, but not essential, to write down the basic elements of the plot in an outlining program.  But you don’t need to know every detail, and it can be short  (like 2 pages).

You need to be in a relaxed place, like I am right now.  You can do this on vacation, or during a special writing retreat time.  You need to stay relaxed, with enough sleep, exercise and good food. Stress and a crowded schedule does not allow you to be creative.

You will also need a voice recorder.  I use the Sony UX512.  The main thing is that it should be easy to plug into your computer and download the sound files.

And you need an inexpensive and accurate transcriber.  Very easy way to find this is on  Find someone with consistent 5 stars and 1000+ hours of experience.  Total accuracy is not needed, as you will edit it all later.

What to do

You will need a place where you can walk, for about an hour, where you don’t see too many people.  Here in Corfu I walk along the cliff above the ocean very early in the morning. Lucky for me, the Greeks are not early risers.

Now we can start.  Every day, at more or less the same time, go for your creation walk for about an hour.  Walk fast, so you get a little out of breath.  Swing your arms as your legs move.  Breathe deeply.  This gets the brain unstuck.  After about ten minutes start telling the story into the voice recorder. 

  • Don’t think too much,
  • Just move it forward every day. 
  • Don’t worry about prose quality,
  • Don’t edit as you go,
  • Just walk and talk.  

After 35 minutes of walking and talking, you will have 2000 words.  (I said an hour a day to be on the safe side, in case you have to stop now and then for early morning joggers who think you are nuts.  It happens.)

When you get back from your creation walk, plug the machine into your laptop, and transfer the sound files for today.  You will need a dropbox account, which is free.  Upload  all the files to dropbox, and send a short e mail to your transcriber to ask her to get busy.

Spend the rest of the day in pure and undiluted enjoyment.  Swim, eat, walk (no recorder this time). Make love.  A lot. Tell your partner that Arjuna said you have to, for creative purposes.  Take an afternoon siesta and go to bed early.  Don’t read fiction, as it may infiltrate your own story.  Don’t do any other work.  Don’t read or try to edit what gets transcribed till after the 30 days.  Just enjoy yourself.

I wrote my entire first novel, The Last Laugh, in this way.   I plan to have this new book “4 Fathers” done by end of July.  (My 30 days will have a short break in there for a trip with my son and his girlfriend through Italy.  Its a tough life, but someone has to do it).

Editing will come once the entire first draft has been downloaded in this way.  You can do it yourself, or hire a pro for a few thousand dollars.  Once you get a publisher, they will give you an editor as part of the deal.

Questions… Comments?    That is what the box below is for.  Lets talk.

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