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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Consider the Fanfic

Mythbusting 101: To Be A Successful Writer You Must Write Every Day 

It's cute that there are still people who think they can write a book by sitting down one day and typing away without thinking about anything else. Adorable. Those people always make me smile.

In general I like the idea of hitting a minimum word count goal every day, especially if you're new to writing and need to get into the habit. There's a lot to be said for routine and muscle memory and the practice you get from writing every day.

On the other hand - and I speak from experience here - it's a lot easier to write a book and hit your deadlines if you already know what's going on in the world of your novel. And that means you need to do your research first.

Consider the fanfic... the earliest form of writing most authors ever attempt. Fanfic is the training ground for many best selling authors. Why? Because everything is already set up. The names are picked, the world is established, the characters are defined, the research is done. All you have to do is pick a plot and run with it.

The key to writing your own fiction fast is to make it as easy as writing fan fiction. That means you need to get your research done first. And that may mean you spend a week taking notes rather than writing books. Trust me, you'll be happy you did.

In a perfect world your research will result in writing that's as easy as fanfic. You'll have names, personalities, the world, and the settings all established so that all you need to do is worry about the plot kinks. That means deciding what your world will look like first, understanding your antagonist, and knowing the scenery of each scene before you write your first word.

Don't panic if this means missing your daily word count for a week or so. Set a time limit for research and pack it all in there. If you aren't sure where to start try looking at Michael Moorcock's method for writing a book in three days. You might not be able to write a book in three days (some of you have lives beyond the computer desk... kids and lovers and jobs... you know, like normal people), but you could adapt that method very easily for NaNoWriMo or for writing a novel in a couple of months. Whatever your schedule allows.

Now, run along and do a little research. It'll make getting your word count down much easier in the long run.


  1. The same could be said of technical papers. If the research is finished, then all you need is an outline then you can spew a paper in just a few days. Of course, you need a bit more than a week to do all the research...

    1. A lot more than a week, in my experience. For undergrad I spent seven months collecting and processing data before I wrote anything for my paper.