Many authors, living and dead, have written their novels in a matter of months, sometimes even weeks. Faulkner is purported to have written As I Lay Dying in only six weeks. Zora Neale Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in just under two months. Joyce Carol Oates cranks out her novels at a breakneck pace, sometimes publishing two or three novels a year. I had a chance to see Oates speak at the New York State Writers Institute in 2006, and during the Q&A an audience member asked her how it felt to be such a prolific writer. Her response was indignation: Why don’t contemporary writers write more?
Good question. Today, however, rarely does one rely on writing as her sole livelihood. Most people I know describe themselves as “a writer and a teacher” or “a writer and a software developer” or “a writer and a (fill in blank with an occupation that gets the bills paid).”
Even, still, I think Oates was on to something. It doesn’t have to take years to write a novel. What’s the trick? Habits. Good ones. Daily ones. The kind that force you to sit down everyday and write, even when you don’t feel like it.
I believe a well-drafted novel can be completed in about three months. My book 90 Days to Your Novel will be out from Writer’s Digest Books in the fall. To prove that a novel can, indeed, be written in 90 days, I’m going to follow my own advice, step by step. This site will chronicle my insights, progress, and frustrations as I develop, outline, and write that first draft.