I Wrote A 30,000 Word Book in 30 Days At The Age Of 15
In this article, I’m going to give you my best tips on how to finish writing your book. But first, some personal background.
I wrote my book at the age of fifteen. I didn’t make up my mind to write a book all of a sudden — it was a necessity. I wanted to get into a fancy high school, and I didn’t have the grades to make it. But that high school was known to accept ‘exemplary’ kids who’d created their own fashion lines, businesses, etc.
My mom told me I wouldn’t get in — unless I wrote a book. That would help my odds a lot. So I buckled down and wrote it in 30 days, my parents hired an editor, paid for it to be self-published, and we had a book signing at a friend’s bookstore where all 200+ copies were sold and recouped the printing costs.
After sending a copy of the book to the school, I got in. You can Google my name for all the embarrassing book signing pictures and cringy fifteen-year-old me quotes, but I won’t put them here for obvious reasons. You can, however, read a free version of my book on Medium.
So what can you learn from my experience?
- Tie A Goal To The Finishing Of The Book — That Isn’t Just ‘Finishing’
- Don’t Edit While Writing — Highlight
- Have Someone Else To Motivate You
Tie A Goal To The Finishing Of The Book — That Isn’t Just ‘Finishing’
I had always wanted to publish a book. I’d been writing since I was five, but there was nothing to motivate me. I figured I’d write a book eventually.
When I desperately wanted to get into the same high school my best friend at the time went to, nothing could distract me from that goal. I wanted it so badly, and the only option was to write the book. There was no question, I would do it.
It might be difficult to want something as badly as I wanted to get into that school. But we all have different dreams.
That vacation you keep telling yourself you’ll take? Promise yourself you can go as soon as you finish your book. Make a vision board of your vacation, plan all the sites you want to visit and think how quickly you could get there if you just sat for an hour or two a day and churned out words.
I would write for four-hour chunks at a time, but I was a kid — I didn’t have much else to do. The one thing I did have was a schedule. I’d set aside 3–4 hours every day only to write, grabbing a snack, and not leaving my bedroom until the time ended.
I was the only one enforcing it, to be clear. I was very motivated. You can be too if you pick the right reward.
Don’t Edit While Writing — Highlight
The first ten days of my writing journey were a waste in terms of productivity. I wasn’t getting anywhere going over the same ten pages again and again editing and reworking different sections.
My mother noticed the lack of progress and told me those revisions are what editing is for, but that they should happen after the content is completed.
Once I stopped editing, I was making 10X the progress I had in the last ten days, daily. You are your own worst critic, but there has to be a draft to critique, or else you’ll get nowhere.
I used the highlight function on Microsoft Word to flag sections I wasn’t happy with, and then would continue on. After completing the draft, I went back to those sections and reworked them until I was happy enough to remove the highlights.
The editing was blocking me from getting in the zone. I’d be sidetracked, overanalyzing every sentence I wrote. Editing while writing is not advisable.
Have Someone Else To Motivate You
My mother knew how badly I wanted to go to school with my friend. I’m sure she wanted me to get into that school just as much, but she never showed it.
She did, however, make sure to ask me every day that month how my book was going. The topic found its way into our everyday lives, whether she asked if I had been up in my bedroom writing or doing something else, how many words I was up to, etc.
Accountability ‘buddies’ are helpful, arguably more helpful if they’re also completing the same task. Find someone else who wants to write a book and check on them repeatedly.
A great option is NaNoWriMo, a writing site where every November people log their word counts on the site, discuss their difficulties, and their triumphs. I wrote my sequel during that event. I later lost all 40,000 words of the sequel, but that’s another article.
If a fifteen-year-old kid can write a book in a month, after wasting 10 of those days editing before finishing the draft, you can do it in a lot less. You won’t need to hire an editor if you use free proofreading software and ask a couple of friends. Printing books isn’t necessary nowadays with ebooks.
Chances are you have more experience writing than the average person if you’re on this site, and you have more pressing goals than getting into high school to motivate you. You can do it.
The time is now [or November]. Good luck.