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)


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)


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.


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.


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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