How to Write A Novel In Eighteen Steps


  • Draft 50,000 words in two mad months. Convince self you are literary giant.
  • Lose focus, shelve draft for three years.
  • Discover the entire secondary plot is crap. Scrap it.
  • Rewrite over 18 months. 65,000 words of plausible nonsense.
  • Discover the entire new secondary plot is crap. Scrap it.
  • Rewrite over another year. Convince self you are not bonkers to have done so. 75,000 words.
  • Decide to publish in six months. Actually tell people that.
  • Get solid notes from beta readers. Rewrite. 82,000 words.
  • Panic. How is the book getting LONGER?
  • Gain beta reader approval. Send out for copyediting.
  • Get edits back. Fix eleventy-million things. Send out for proof copy printing.
  • Send uncorrected digital proofs to selected readers.
  • Get proof in mail. Squee like a pre-teen at a pre-Zayne’s-departure One Direction show.
  • Read through proof in horror: So. Many. Wrongs.
  • Apply 463* sticky-note edits to proof.
  • Implement changes to book files.
  • Remember when Chef Louise said you eventually have to stop fucking with it.**
  • Click Publish.

*estimate. see photo for details.
**she said it. to soften the language would destroy the beauty of the moment. “it” was, for the record, cake frosting.

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5 thoughts on “How to Write A Novel In Eighteen Steps

    1. I learned a lot of things in culinary school, but that lesson was the one with the broadest and most lasting application. And yes, absolutely true story. Though I did skip the “publish all sorts of other stuff during the process” step. Ooops. 🙂

    1. Priorities are like unicorns. No, that’s wrong… they’re like… I don’t know. Mine shift. I mean, there’s always the child and the marriage, along with basic needs like food and shelter, but sometimes writing gets to be more important than all of those things for a few hours. Am I fortunate there? Or insane and negligent? Perhaps. Ask me when I’m spending all my mad royalties on my son’s therapy sessions 🙂

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