How to write a novel in 10 days

Several years ago, US author Dean Wesley Smith wrote a novel in 10 days — and documented the process on the web, charting his progress with regular (and often multiple) updates each day.

It was a “ghost” novel. Not a novel about ghosts, but one commissioned by a traditional publisher to be written in the style of a big-name writer who had failed or was struggling to deliver a manuscript on time.

I was hired to write a ghost novel for a major author. I will never tell anyone who the author is or even why I am writing this for this author. Not a word. Ever, so don’t ask. But I can tell you that when this comes out of New York, it will be a major bestseller because this author’s books always are.

I hope to write the book (70,000 words) in 7 to 10 days and then turn it in to the publisher. One draft.

I will talk about my moods, my feelings, and so on about the writing. I do not have an outline and will be just writing off into the dark on this one, so it might get kind of scary and entertaining. I hope, anyway, because I hate being bored when I write. (grin)

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Two caveats when (if) you read through his posts:

  • Smith is a professional. He’s been in the business 40-odd years and reckons he’s written over 200 books.
  • He keeps odd hours, typically rolling out of bed around lunchtime and working into the wee small hours. Take this final entry from Day 1, for example:

At this point at 4:26 in the morning, I’m at 7,625 words for the day. I could go a little farther but this is a ton better than I had hoped for the first day so I’m going to stop and go downstairs with my cat and veg out on some stupid television.

I still have no idea at all where this book is going. Just making it up as I go. But at the same time I’m feeling no worry at the moment either. I have a hunch that will come. (grin)

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Buried Treasure

There are all sorts of nuggets buried in his posts, like this from Day 4:

Today I also made it through that deadly one-third spot in any novel (1/3 of 70,000 words is 23,300 words) where the energy is gone, everything seems like a pile a crap, and you lose interest in the book and even writing more. I have never had a novel that I didn’t go through that. It’s where most beginning novelists stop cold. Professional novelists know about this and just power through. I went through it today, actually this afternoon. So that feels good as well to have that barrier behind me.

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It’s a fascinating look at the work habits of a writer who believes

The quality of the final product has no relationship to the speed, method, or feeling of the writer while writing.

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You can read the full account of his daily progress (going from bottom to top) here.

He also compiled the posts into a book.

And just for the record, two years ago he wrote a novel in five days — while travelling! And documented that process too.

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