How not to write a novel in 30 days…

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OK writers, and anyone who’s ever wondered what the hell it’s like to try and write a book reasonably quickly. Here are a few tips from my own personal experience, sitting here in Bali. I may not know what to do exactly, but by now I think I know what you should NOT do.

Do not sit down at your desk and then remember that oops, you can’t start writing yet because you haven’t folded the end of the loo roll into a hotel style triangle/ensured your bike isn’t on fire outside/plucked your eyebrows/painted each toenail with a different intricate design based on flowers from around the world. Start writing NOW and don’t stop till you’ve done something you’re proud of. Even if it’s just one paragraph.

Do not write when you’re drunk or high. Well, maybe write when you’re high because who knows, you might unlock something marvelous within the deep recesses of your tragic mind, which will render you the literary mastermind of your generation and score you a Pulitzer. But chances are you’ll just sound like a wanker and hate yourself when you read it back.

Do not stop what you’re doing to read a book that someone says sounds a bit like yours. Chances are it will be better and you’ll feel like shit, or it will be worse and you’ll still feel like shit because now the pressure’s on to write something better. Write your story your way and fuck everyone else. Unless it’s about vampires. Then just don’t bother… Please.

Do not keep checking your word count. We’re all guilty of this. You might reach 35,099 words and think “yay me!”, how fabulous, I’m a third of the way there, and later realize you have to cut that 5000 words you wrote in one day from the point of view of the hamster who witnessed the murder. Because you were drunk. Or high. You wanker.

Do not pitch your top, future award winning novel to every agent you see online (or in the Writers & Artists Yearbook) before it’s finished. Whereas some agents might only ask for the first 30 pages or so, most will want the whole manuscript and the last thing you need is for them to love a 30 page murder mystery told through the eyes of a hamster, only to find you’ve run out of weed and can’t write the rest. Again: Wanker.

Do not set yourself a word count per day. Seriously, if you order yourself to write 5000 words every day and then find you’re too tired, or uninspired, or just drunk or high or busy having sex with your muse you’re going to feel like you’ve failed. Unless your muse looks like Ryan Gosling and is offering to build you a house AND take you on an inspirational tour of all the Nicholas Sparks movie locations. In that case, fuck the book. Life has favored you. You’re already winning.

Do not distract yourself from the task in hand by spending your entire working day Googling all the luxury places you’re going to go on holiday when the six figure advance for your book comes in. Honestly, on a good day we can get ahead of ourselves and it’s great to be confident in our abilities, but planning that hazy, dreamlike future as a minted fiction writer when you should actually be writing fiction isn’t doing you any good. You’re just a poor, deluded wanker with a laptop. And no weed.

Delete your Facebook account. Or if that’s too extreme, set aside some special time with it each day and don’t let it draw you in outside of your appointment.

Do not procrastinate by writing lists for other writers about what not to do when writing. You’re wasting your time and everyone else’s. And you sound like a wanker. Just write goddammit. Write write write write WRITE!!!

Go write. Now.
I’m going to fold my loo roll again…

My newest novel, the new adult romance Before He Was Famous is out on Amazon now. I did not write it in 30 days.