Book in a Week

Starting the first Saturday of each month, interested members of HCRW can take part in the Book-in-a-Week challenge.

The system got its name because some of the people who first tried it actually got a rough draft of a (short!) novel finished in that week. Most people don’t do nearly that much; the goal is to write, write, and write some more in every free second you can scrounge. There’s no revising, no looking back. This way Ye Inner Editor gets turned off. You’d be amazed at the surprises that pop up without that old biddy around!

At the end of each day, you make notes to yourself for the following day on what you should be writing about (since you’ve invoked that “no looking back” clause, see above), and then you post on a BiaW-only eloop how many pages you’ve managed. The guilt that comes with posting in public is one of the perks of BiaW. It will usually be enough to get your butt in that chair and produce something. Anything. You can do one page, just 250 words, right?

Yes, there may be days when all heck breaks loose and page total is zero. No, no one will make fun of you (unless your excuse is really funny!).

You will edit and revise afterward, not during. Before BiaW begins, get your manuscript or basic idea into order so you don’t have to stop to draw new charts, figure GMC, worldbuild, whatever. Also, inform the people you live with that you won’t be available for one tiny week. Either fix your meals ahead of time or appoint a substitute chef. Let the housework go! Buy a case of Febreeze and say adieu to the laundry.

The idea is to invest as much of your energy as possible in new writing for one week.

BiaW is great for starting books. You’ll discover if this book truly interests you or if there’s something in the story that needs a complete redo. It’s fabulous if you’ve been stuck or if the end of your book has been looming for a long time and you haven’t been able to reach it.

Personally, I like setting my BiaW daily goals to just a page or two more than usual. The results won’t awe anyone, but I can get a reasonable chunk of the book done that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

Remember, BiaW is for a rough draft only. The idea is not to be perfect, but to churn out pages that can be made perfect… later.

What kinds of totals can you expect? In December of 2004, we had 10 people write 216.2 pages, with one person contributing 72 pages of that. In January 2005, there were 14 people and a total of 309.2 pages. Our highest producer managed 60 pages. Things haven’t cooled off since–in August 2012, we had 11 people with 249 pages!