This Series on Writing Fast Will Blow Your Creative Mind–and Inspire You

This morning, thanks to Karen Woodward, I was introduced to a series on ghostwriting a novel in 10 days by Dean Wesley Smith.

Yes, I said 10 days.  As in, writing a full, complete novel in 10 days.

Dean Wesley Smith is ghosting a novel contracted by a major publisher for an author who is a bestseller and whose name would be recognizable to all of us.  (Yes, the world of ghostwriting is sometimes a shady place.)

He's set himself the goal of finishing the novel in 10 days, and along the way, he is documenting his progress with regular updates to his blog.  It's really worth reading.  Here are the posts so far:

Day one.

Day two.

And you might want to read this one as well:

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writing Fast.

When Smith says he writes fast, he means it–he gets up, gets to the computer (he uses two–one with no internet access and thus no temptations) and gets to work.  It appears that he writes in bursts, knocking off a 1000 words or so before taking a break to eat or answer email (at the second computer) or what have you. And then he rinses and repeats, on and on throughout the day.

But here's the deal: he's writing.  Not endlessly revising, not thinking about writing, not wondering if his work is any good (confidence is not this man's problem), but writing. 

I think we can all learn a lesson from this.  I know reading his posts  inspired me and afterwards, I polished off the first draft of a short story I'd been agonizing over.  I'm sure I spend way too much time pondering deep thoughts and not actually writing. Even if we don't want to emulate every aspect of his practice, we can learn from parts of it.

Oh yeah, and guess what?  He starts out with no idea where he's going.  And he doesn't rewrite.  This draft will be it.

Freakin' incredible.

Here are things I noted/wondered about as I read:

–When does he take a shower?

–When does he exercise?

–He has a wife to cook for him.  Or someone.  Dinner magically appears.

–He probaby has a house cleaner as well.  There's no attention paid to such mundane matters.

–He's able to set his own schedule (stay up until wee hours of the morning, sleep until 1 PM).

But even with all that being said, his accomplishment is amazing.

What do you think?  Does this appeal to you or do you think he's a hack (he's got a gazillion novels to his credit)?  Do you write slow or fast?  I'd love it if you left a comment.

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6 Responses to This Series on Writing Fast Will Blow Your Creative Mind–and Inspire You

  1. Amanda Martin 04/22/2013 at 04:04 #

    I can write a first draft in ten days, but they’re separate days as I only get two days a week without the kids. I need the time in between to let ideas settle in my mind and refill my creative well. And of course, it’s a first draft (so pretty rubbish) Hats off to someone who has a well of creativity so full they can write non-stop like that!

  2. Charlotte Dixon 04/22/2013 at 07:11 #

    Yes, come to think of it, if I had ten uninterrupted days I could write a first draft.  But, as you say, it would be rubbish (I love the words you Brits use).  And, knowing me, it would go off on all kinds of tangents.  So I admire anyone who can write a draft in 10 days and have it not need rewriting!

  3. Jessica Baverstock 04/24/2013 at 02:11 #

    I think there are several things to take into consideration.

    As he points out in his post on writing fast, every writer and every project is different. Some stories do come fast and I think the point he’s trying to make is we shouldn’t think that fast writing automatically equals bad writing.

    Some of my stories come very fast and require very little editing. Other stories I slave over for weeks to get them to work. In the end though (as he points out) readers won’t be able to tell the difference. So just because you write something fast doesn’t mean you should pick it to pieces afterwards. Bad writing, yes. Fast writing, not necessarily.

    Another consideration is why you’re writing. Dean Wesley Smith and his wife treat writing as a business and they are very good at it. They are also very experienced writers (and became so from writing so prolifically). Mathematics dictates that the more products you have the more chances of sales.

    I think the point he’s trying to make (and one I think is very good to consider) is that the time something took to write is not an accurate measurement of the quality of the writing. Moving on to new projects will always teach you new things. As writers we can easily spend too much time editing and not enough time getting to work on something new.

    *Looks at shoes. Shuffles around a little and heads back to writing.*

  4. Charlotte Dixon 04/25/2013 at 07:41 #

    Good points, Jessica. One of the models that’s emerging from everything going on in publishing is that you can make a living as a fiction writer if you have a quantity of projects in the marketplace (this thanks in part to Ebooks). And I do think that’s what he and his wife are doing successfully which is appealing to me.

    I told a friend about this and she immediately labeled him a hack, which I thought was interesting viewpoint and speaks to the point that people do equate writing fast with crap.

    I think looking at all this topics–or myths, as he calls them, is interesting and illuminating for all writers!

  5. Jessica Baverstock 04/25/2013 at 20:17 #

    I found this post by his wife to be very interesting.

    I love the idea of just getting out there and experimenting. It’s true, the more things you try the more likely you are to find something that works well.

    If all your eggs are in one basket (novel) then that sounds like far more of a gamble than getting out there and trying something that has a 50% chance of working.

    I too find it illuminating. :)

  6. Charlotte Dixon 04/26/2013 at 06:58 #

    I think they are an interesting couple.  And even if we don't agree with all their writing methods or ideas, there's tons to learn from following them. I've been reading Dean's blog about getting the novel written every day.  And yes, I love the idea of putting things out there–we're lucky to live in a time when we can do that.

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