Writing a Book in a Month: Week Four

The final week of writing your novel should be dedicated to editing and preparing for launch. 

In a perfect world, anyway. 

But we don’t live there. 

Miraculously, I finished the book a few days ahead of schedule. I read my ending several dozen times, because I’ve never been confident in my ability to write a solid conclusion. I’m a regular Ryan Murphy – all my finales suck. 

I decided to take a break for a day or two, and then come back to the book with a fresh mind. 

Cue me missing more days than I meant. 

I’m the master of procrastination, and a career-making project couldn’t avoid my wrath. Or sloth. Both words kind of work. 

I needed help editing, and I truly feel that writers should admit this to themselves. It’s completely fine to edit your own work, but to make a piece as perfect as it can be, you need outside eyes. Those other perspectives will tell you what you need to hear, even if you don’t want to. 

A couple friends of mine (also writers, and very dear to my heart – especially after all their help) were eager to see my project, and when I asked for their assistance, they were more than happy to lend a hand. I sent them copies of the manuscript and waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

One of the worst moments of being a writer, is waiting for feedback. 

Do they love it? Hate it? Are they bored? Oh God, help me, if they’re bored!!! 

After a couple days, I received my first few pages of notes. 

Admittedly, they hurt. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself, however, because some of the issues I was aware of. While writing, I struggled through certain parts – as any writer does with any story. I told myself I would come back during the editing phase. 

No matter how much we prepare, critiques can sting. The work is our baby, and we would do anything to defend it. 

But taking those criticisms and turning them into positive change? That’s the best thing you can do for your baby. Think of it this way: you’re making this creation the best possible version of itself, so it can stand on its own and succeed. 

My friends were telling me things I needed to hear, and honestly, the story became significantly better because of that. The parts I doubted were suddenly clear, fitting and flowing flawlessly with the rest of the book. The emotional payoff in the end made sense, with a few simple tweaks here and there.

Shortly after I made those edits, I received more feedback from another friend. They found details that were confusing – things I’d forgotten to elaborate on. I made mental notes to myself, but at this point, I should know that those never work. I’m too forgetful. 

With all the edits in hand, I worked through the day (and yes, I broke my four-hour maximum rule) to finish the final product.

Thankfully, I had already worked on the cover – which I absolutely recommend saving for the end. 

I had bigger fish to fry, and that came in the form of figuring out the Kindle Create program. First, I needed to install it. Though I can’t say why I was apprehensive, I ended up liking the software a lot more than I expected. Formatting wasn’t as big of a pain as I had imagined it to be, and making sure the ebook looked right was pretty easy. Kindle Create is kinda self-explanatory (thank God), and for the parts I felt any confusion towards, I just Googled. Now, I might just make a separate post explaining the program more in depth, so let me know if you have any questions.

This last part only took an hour or so, and then I was ready to assemble the Final final version. 

KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is also quite easy to navigate. I plugged in all the information (and messed up only once on uploading the correct manuscript), checked one last time for errors, then submitted the book. 

Glancing at the clock, I couldn’t help but laugh. I spent so much time not having something published, and I realized it was time wasted. If I wrote a book in a month, what could I do in two? Three? 

I learned a lot from the challenge – most of which I’ll keep with me as I write future books. 

As for advice, I do have a few last pieces for you. 

1.) Don’t take critique too personally. Call those comments what they are: room for improvement. If you ever stop improving, are you really living? 

2.) Save the cover for last. You start your book with an idea of what you want, but stories can grow beyond expectations. They can take on a life of their own, and the final version may not fit what you originally pictured. It’s best to wait, so you can create a perfect cover for a perfect story. 

3.) If you have a deadline, make sure to collect some editors beforehand so nobody is rushing. Your editors are the last line of defense between you and a bad book. 

4.) Self-publishing is almost too easy. Don’t let yourself fall off track, because you might not get back on.

5.) You should prepare yourself. Sometimes, you’ll have to axe your favorite scenes. Sometimes, pieces just don’t fit. By all means, try to make them work if you really want – but know when to throw the towel in. Personally, I fight to the death for every scene I write. I’m confident in my ability as a writer to make everything work, and in the end, I think that’s what really matters. If you can justify it to yourself, go ahead. Which brings me to my final point.

6.) Write the stories YOU want to read. If you’re writing for one person, you’ll be surprised how many others hop on the bandwagon.

Writing a Book In a Month: Week Two

Allow me a moment to smash my head against a wall. 

Repeatedly

I slipped up during this week! A whole bunch! 

Instead of writing for an hour, I stayed up late having conversations with my sister and brother-in-law. Sometimes we talked about life, other times we discussed politics or business, and then there were the brief interludes where we wouldn’t talk about anything that mattered. 

Anime. Video games. 

Real nerdy shit that I’m embarrassed to admit I wasted precious writing time on. 

I watched more Attack on Titan than I wanted to, solely to avoid working on my book. I told myself, “I have plenty of time. Progress looks great; I should be done in less than two weeks.” 

If you catch yourself saying this, do NOT listen to that idiot. They’re only trying to break your kneecaps and stall you. 

This also was the week where I hit several instances of writers’ block. 

I pushed through them, but I found myself all too relieved when my timer beeped and freed me from work. The last time writing felt too much like a job, I quit for months and didn’t think I would ever return. I didn’t wanna put myself through that again, so I decided to stop when I absolutely couldn’t continue. 

If I wouldn’t push myself to run with a rolled ankle, I shouldn’t push myself to write with absolutely no fuel. Now, ultimately, this is a decision for you to make. There are no two writers alike, so your tank is definitely different from mine. That being said, if you believe you can push yourself, by all means: go for it. 

After I reached these bumps in the road, I decided to try a different approach. I started breaking up my writing time, as well as expanding. Let me explain how. 

At most, I would write for four hours a day. I could break these four hours into thirty- or forty-five-minute intervals, so long as they equaled four hours in the end. While this proved effective, it didn’t last. Eventually, this method encouraged me to start writing for long periods of time again. I found that switching things up really helped my writing mojo – so I would absolutely recommend you give it a try. 

More good news hit me mid-week: I figured out my ending. 

Shocked, I played out the story several times to see if I truly liked what I conjured up. I feel like I got lucky; I usually struggle with endings if I haven’t started the story with one in mind. However, this ending came so naturally, I thought it foolish to fight. 

Of course, with the good, there is always some bad around the corner. 

I started struggling with the good old imposter syndrome

I swore up and down I was proud of my work. 

But in the back of my mind, I struggled to defend such a simple story. I wondered if this was the book I wanted to put into the world FIRST. Part of me considered scrapping the whole project and going back to my original manuscripts. 

The only problem with that was… well, I had already invested two weeks. 

If I gave up, then it was just more wasted time under my belt. Besides, who else was going to write about my characters? Throwing in the towel just meant I would be back at square one, and I was getting tired of how often I talked myself out of good things. 

Of course I would be extra critical of my own work – but that didn’t mean everyone else would be. Where I saw a lousy piece of writing, someone else could’ve been charmed, and left with a warm, cozy feeling. I couldn’t guarantee people would like my book, but I also couldn’t guarantee they would hate it. 

After some tug-of-war in my head, I managed to talk myself down and continue to write. 

I think in moments like that, you need to have perspective. In life, there are so many people who never try. How often do you see writers that keep shielding their work from being viewed? By this, I mean: how often do you – or writers you know – say “it’s just not done yet?” How long has their project not been completed? 

There are countless excuses we can come up with for ourselves, but at the end of the day, no one is going to write your idea except you. 

With this in mind, I continued my book. 

Now, I’m one of those insufferable people who like to edit while they write. For this project, I had to force myself out of that habit. Whenever I was tempted to edit, I pushed my brain to keep writing. I had all the time afterward to edit, and it would probably work better if I fixed the story as one complete unit. 

Looking back, I have to laugh. These problems were big, but trivial in comparison to what lied ahead. 

I would soon face a time crunch, made even worse by severe weather conditions. 

You see, I live in Texas, and as you may have heard: we were utterly unprepared for snow. 

Advice for the week: Don’t talk yourself out of writing. Whatever the idea is, jot it down and stick with it. You can always edit later.