Book writing can be an incredibly long process, and that’s scary. But, what if writing a book didn’t have to take months or years? Let’s look at whether it’s possible to write a book in one month or less in this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge! Even though the challenge is focused on novels, note that it can also apply to nonfiction books, and we’ll explain how to write nonfiction in a month.
Simple answer: yes! More complex answer: it depends on the individual author, their lifestyle, and their other commitments. Some authors spend months or even years writing their nonfiction book because that’s what works for them. Others write it in just a few weeks because they want to get it done and dusted ASAP. Writing a book is not a “one size fits all” kind of thing, but it’s certainly doable to write a book in a month, and many authors have done so. There are even bestsellers that were written during NaNoWriMo.
It’s definitely possible to write a nonfiction book in 30 days, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you have a full-time job and a family to look after. Although NaNoWriMo runs throughout November, the aim is not to burn yourself out or to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things on your plate. Instead, the way to do it is setting yourself an exciting challenge and getting started on something you’ve always wanted to write about. If you only manage to write half of it, that’s a great start. Just commit to finishing it soon, rather than forgetting about it.
If you decide to give NaNoWriMo a go this year, figure out a challenge that works for you. Look at how much free time you actually have and whether you can free up more time this month. This might mean committing to fewer social engagements than normal or unplugging your TV for a month. Maybe you can dedicate half an hour a day, or perhaps you have a spare 3-hour slot once a week. It’s about what works for you.
While you can aim for the standard number of 50,000 words for your NaNoWriMo challenge, we recommend adjusting this if this will be your first manuscript or if you’re writing nonfiction. In fact, if you plan to self-publish your nonfiction book, then it’s better to aim for a word count of around 30,000 words, give or take 5,000. As people have less spare time for reading and long “TBR” (to be read) lists, word counts have been reducing. Plus, it’s better to write a concise, non-repetitive, and compelling 20,000 words than 50,000 words of waffle, repetition, and filler.
To start writing your book, you need a document to write in. Most authors go for Microsoft Word because it makes the editing stage easier, but you can use Google Docs if you’d prefer. While some people love book creation software like Scrivener, steer clear of this if you plan to hire an editor and a proofreader because it makes the editing process so much trickier. Aside from that, you need a mindset of excitement about your challenge, so go and look at your favourite books on your bookshelf and get inspired!
It’s true that 30 days can seem intense if you’re not used to writing regularly, and this is why it’s important to figure out a challenge that’s reasonable for you. The best way to motivate yourself is to remind yourself of your reasons for writing a book and the goals you want to achieve. Keeping that “why” in mind (or even writing it on a Post-It note and sticking it on your laptop or computer) is great motivation.
When you’ve finished writing the book, put your feet up and congratulate yourself!
Give yourself some time away from the book and celebrate, then get back into it if you still have some writing left. The next steps are editing, design and proofreading. You can find our complete step-by-step guide to self-publishing here. You can also hire us to critique, edit, design, and proofread your book— or send us a message if you’re not sure what services you need!
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