Do the Math and You’ll Write Your Book in 2017

Do the Math and You'll Write Your Book in 2017

A recent webinar by Joanna Penn woke me up to what is really involved in getting a first draft written—and you know what? once you do the math, any excuses you might have had for not getting the work done are officially gone. Here’s how her math goes: 2 months to plan, 7 months to write, 3 months self-editing.

Seven months to write an entire book doesn’t seem a long time, at first, especially when you convince yourself you have no time, or not enough energy, or … whatever your excuse is. Here’s where the math comes in. Let’s say you plan to write an average length book—about 80,000 words. Let’s make it 90,000 and leave you lots to delete during the editing process.

If I’m going to write 90,000 words in 7 months, that works out to 3103 words per week (assuming 29 weeks in 7 months.) Now let’s say you write only 4 days a week, that’s 776 words/day. If you type at a speed of 35 words per minute (the top speed I achieved in a typing class with manual typewriters sometime in the mid-60s), then that means that you need to sit in front of the keyboard for 22 minutes a day.

So, working for less than half an hour a day, four days a week, will give you a 90,000-word first draft in seven months. If you wrote every day, you’d only have to work for 13 minutes to write the 443 daily words require to achieve your goal. I spend that much time on Solitaire, so I really have no excuse. Do you? Now?

Now where I see this all falling apart is not having the planning done before I sit down for my 22 minutes a day. If you have to sit down each day and wait for the muse to show up, you’re not going to get the book done. To make this work, you need to spend time up front organizing your ideas, your plot, your characters, before you sit down to type. Now I can assure you from experience, that having a plan does not diminish the creative fun stuff that happens while you are writing. Characters still surprise. Those moments of magic when you feel the words just fly from your fingers–they all still happen.

So, if you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to write your book this year, spend some time now doing the planning that will make it possible. Everyone responds to a different planning model. I’ve listed some links below to great articles on planning to get you started.

Happy New Year! And happy writing!


If you’re ready to write that book, take advantage of what I’ve learned about writing and publishing by checking out my personalized writing coach options. Arrange for your free 15-minute telephone chat to see if I’m the coach for you. There’s a writer inside all of us, let me help you find yours.




10 Steps to Write And Publish Your Non-Fiction Book – Joanna Penn

Using a Mind Map to Plan Your Non-Fiction Book – Roger C. Parker

How to Organize Your Non-Fiction Book – Nina Amir

The Ultimate Ten-Step Guide to Plan and Write Your Book – Ali Luke


The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel – Randy Ingermanson

Your Novel Blueprint – Karen S. Wiesner

Eight Ways to Outline a Novel – Robbie Blair

Novel in 30 Days Worksheet Index – though these were designed with NaNoWriMo in mind, they are great resources for those of us who will take longer than 30 days to write 50,000 words.

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