Can you really write a book in a week?

Tweets and ads promise that you will be able to write your business book in a week or even a weekend. Is that possible?

The short answer is, “Yes.” The long answer is a little more complicated. The long answer requires you to consider the answers to three questions. The most important one is the first one.

Can You Do It?

It really doesn’t matter if “someone” can write a book in a week. What matters is whether you can do it. So, let’s lay out the challenge.

I’m giving you a six-day week. After all, the Bible says you should rest on the seventh day. It also makes calculations a little easier.

If you’re going to write a full-sized book, you need about 60,000 words. That’s 10,000 words a day. Can you write that much? Have you ever written that much?

Let’s say you don’t feel the need to write a full-sized, 250-page business book. Let’s say you’re going for a Kindle Short Read of 12,000 words. Then, you’ve got to write only 2,000 words per day. Can you write that much? Have you ever written that much?

I have clients who can do a couple of thousand words a day. Not many. I don’t have any clients that can do 10,000 words a day. I can’t, either.

But I said there were people who could. Who are they? Most of them are journalists. They learned to write quickly and well.

There are some writers like my client, Blaine Strickland. I call “burst writers.” They rent a hotel room, or go to a cabin in the woods, or a condo by the sea. Then, they write without interruption for a few days until they’re done.

Do You Have Everything You Need Before You Start Writing?

Before you start writing, you should know your subject cold. That’s easy for speakers and trainers who have been using the material on live audiences for years. It’s harder for other people. If you don’t know your subject cold, you must do some research.

You must organize the material. You need to know what stories and examples you’re going to use and the order you will use them. If you’re asking the reader to do exercises, you should know those before you start.

What Will You Have When You’re Done?

When you’re done with your week of writing, you won’t have a book. At best, you’ll have a first draft.

You must revise that first draft. Most of my clients revise their book three or four times. If you send it out to beta readers, you may need to add a revision after you get their feedback. Then, you’ll send the manuscript to a professional editor, who will suggest more changes.

The important thing to remember about first drafts is that they aren’t any good. Seasoned writers expect their first drafts to be awful. Some use more colorful terms. I like Ernest Hemingway’s statement. Like all his writing, it’s short and to the point. Hemingway said: “All first drafts are crap.”

More Questions

I think you should write a book you can be proud of, or nothing. If you can crank out a book in a week, you’re going to be a long way from that standard. Do you want to launch a book into the today’s intense competition if it’s just okay?

Let’s turn the issue around. Would you want to read a book that someone wrote in a week?

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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