My two-week novel, reflections and thoughts

My blog is generally intended for readers, not fellow writers, but I do occasionally write about things that might be interesting to other writers, and today I’m going to do that. If you’re a reader, a long writing process post might not be all that interesting to you. You have been warned.

So, at the end of December, I decided that it would be cool if I could be Elle Casey. Elle Casey wrote a million words last year. That was the first year she ever wrote books. Yup. She just read a blog post by Amanda Hocking and said, “Hey, I bet I could do that.” And then she DID. Elle Casey published twelve books in 2012, and she made a six-figure salary. Did I mention she also has a part-time job being a professor or something? Oh. And she lives in France. That’s so cool.

Anyway, in contrast, I have been writing books since I was twenty-two…so exactly ten years now. In that time I have written twenty-three novels. Last year, I wrote seven of them. That’s a far cry from twelve. Also, I did it full time, with no other job. And I only made $29,000. (Well, less, actually. I haven’t deducted all my expenses.)

As you can see, the prospect of being Elle Casey sounded enticing. So, I conceived a project. I would write a novel in two weeks. Ten days of actual writing time, with the weekends off. I wanted my book to be about 80,000 words long, so some quick math told me that I’d have to write 8K a day. Which, incidentally, is 2K less than Elle Casey does.

I have decided that I no longer want to be Elle Casey.

I’d still like to sell as well as she does, but that may never happen for me–as it’s got relatively little to do with my output. I do have more books available for sale than she does currently. More books don’t necessarily equal more money, though. More’s the pity.

But I don’t want to write that much in day. No thanks. No sir. I don’t think so.


That’s not to say that the book’s bad. The book’s actually pretty good, I think. And the first 5K each day was a blast, every day. I had this kickass schedule going. Up at eight, internet for an hour, start writing at nine, take a half-hour walk after I wrote 2K, write 2K more, take a shower, then back to write…

Oh God.

And I swear this happened every day. I have 4K more to write today? Really?

I’d cheerily get to work on the the next 1K, bringing me to 5K for the day.

By then, it was inevitably around three o’clock in the afternoon. I’d glare at the screen. I’d think, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” But I’d rally, and I’d force myself.

And then it would be 5:30 or 6:00. I’d make dinner. I’d eat. I’d be sure to wash the dishes, knowing that if I came downstairs to dirty dishes in the middle of writing 8K that it might damned near break my spirit.

Then I watched Jon and Kate Plus Eight on Netflix, because my brain could only handle inane entertainment. I was wrecked.

It was like the most exhausting experience of my life. And I think my carpal tunnel is back, but that’s fine, because I’m not writing anything until February. Two weeks off.

And see, that’s why I think it’s silly. I’m not doing this again, because it exhausts me so much that I can’t be productive for an equal amount of time. Like, my normal pace is to write 4K a day, and to revise in the afternoons or prewrite my next project. So, now I’ll be revising and prewriting (Helicon Number Three, y’all, Come Together–because people are “coming together” if you know what I mean, wink-wink, nudge-nudge) for two weeks without drafting.

In other words, it comes out in the wash. I get the same amount done no matter what. Now, I am able to revise and edit the book I just wrote, so that’s cool, because I can have it out along with the werewolf serial killer book later this month–subscribers, keep your eyes peeled for deals in your email. I guess in that sense, I am a little ahead of the game.

Anyway, what I’ve learned?

a-8K is too much for me.

b-5K seems utterly doable. I’ll increase my daily output to that, which means that I can do 100K in a month instead of 80K. One extra hour a day gives me 20K more a month. Awesome.

c-Elle Casey put out twelve books in year, which is a book a month. I can write a book a month, but then I usually take a week off to chill out and outline the next book, etc. So I don’t actually write twelve books.

Also, last year my OCD stole a good three months from me, because I kept getting weirded out that I was writing “too much” and that maybe I was hurting myself. (I had a lot of that during this experiment too, but I didn’t let myself obsess. I shut it down, using an array of tricks I’ve learned.) Last year, the real carpal tunnel pain probably took about two weeks from me. (The obsessive carpal tunnel time took more, and we’ll lump that under OCD.) Moving took several weeks from me as well. Plus my computer got broken. And there were some various other life rolls. All of which accounts for only writing seven books. Which, let’s face it, is still really good. (Yay, me!)

d-Even so, I doubt I can publish twelve books this year. My writing depends on doing little bits in steady doses. Elle Casey doesn’t write every day, but when she does write, she writes a lot. She could have three crisis days, and then still have two days to write, and still get 20K. If I lose three days, when I get back to it, I only get about 8K. And as much as it would be cool to be Elle Casey, I’m actually V. J. Chambers. So. There it is. I’m still prolific. Just not that prolific.

Would I do it again?

Um, well, probably not. But… I can see myself doing it again if I’ve got a bunch of series books piled up and I really want to squeeze out a standalone without putting off the series book forever. (That’s essentially what happened here. Stuff kept getting in front of Helicon. If you’re a Helicon fan–tell your friends to start buying those books. I’m really motivated to write things that make me money. Those things keep selling 2 or 3 a month, you’re getting one or two new books a year, and that’s that. Hmph.) I get really excited about sexy new ideas. I know, you readers only want more of the same characters. And I like those characters, I do. But because I have to write about them, it starts feeling a teensy bit like an obligation. And everyone knows it’s more fun to do stuff you’re not supposed to do. Hence wanting to goof off and write something different sometimes.

What’s the book about that I wrote? Um… Gosh, I don’t have a good blurb for it yet. All in good time, fair blog readers, all in good time. It’s called Slow Burn. It’s a new adult romantic thriller. There’s a very hunky ex-assassin who’s damaged and secretive, and there’s lots of sex and violence.