How to Write a Novel in 6 Months

planning novel

With the new year upon us, it is always fun to come up with writing goals! In 2015, I completed my first and second novels, so this year, I’m hoping to do the same, but a little more structured this time, using what I’ve learned from past mistakes and setbacks to create a quality novel that catches the eye. Writing a novel in 6 months can be done, but it takes planning!

Writing a Novel in 6 Months Game Plan:

Get a notebook you can’t wait to open. I recently discovered Lilly Pulizer’s adorable design. Sigh. So darling, but if you are into a more straightforward, yet still delightfully unique planner, Moleskine is amazing. (Every notebook I have is a Moleskine, so I decided to break it up with something super girly with my planner.)

Pace yourself. Pick a word count that will work for you and try not to write 7 days a week as you might get burned out…unless the muse is driving you nuts, then go for it! I just don’t like to write more than 5 days a week because my mind needs a brain break and I want to spend some quality time with my husband on the weekends, so for this plan, I’ve decided to only write for 4-5 days a week. It will be mostly 5 days a week, but depending if there is a holiday or something comes up, I plan for a few 4-days-a-week to be sprinkled in the mix.

Start off with a lower word count. My plan is to work my way up. In the beginning of the novel, I find that I have to do a lot of front-end research, so I don’t want the pressure of research and a heavy word count…sometimes the pressure of a heavy word count right away can lead to a poor research job and as my husband says, that dog don’t hunt. As writers, we need to make sure we are producing quality writing, not just quantity.

Now, for the good part: the writing schedule! 

Week 1: Brainstorm, outline and research! (The next two weeks are very important as they will make or break your 6 month writing plan. Be thorough in your research and detailed in your outline!) Click here for a post on how to write a story from scratch.

Week 2: Continue brainstorming, outlining and researching!

Week 3: Write 800 words a day x 5 days = 4,000. (At the end of each writing session, review your work and make adjustments and notes for the next day’s session.)

Week 4: Write 800 words a day x 5 days = 4,000. (Don’t forget to do your micro-outlining!)

The Four Week Mark Word Count: 8,000

Week 5 (Increase Word Count from 800 to 1,000 daily): Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

Week 6: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

Week 7: Write 1,000 words x 4 days = 4,000

Week 8: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

The Eight Week Mark Word Count: 27,000 words

Week 9: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

Week 10: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

Week 11: Write 1,000 words x 4 days = 4,000

Week 12: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

The Twelve Week Mark Word Count: 46,000 words

Week 13: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

Week 14: Write 1,000 words x 5 day = 5,000

Week 15: Write 1,000 words x 4 days = 4,000

Week 16: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

The Sixteen Week Mark Word Count: 65,000 words

Week 17: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

Week 18: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

Week 19: Write 1,000 words x 4 days = 4,000

Week 20: Write 1,000 words x 5 days = 5,000

The Twenty Week Mark Word Count: 84,000 words

Don’t worry about getting your number up to exactly 85k or 90k as your edits should add at least 2k-6k words no problem!

Let the Edits Begin! For a post on what to look for while editing, click here.

Week 21: Compile work and send to Beta Reader A. Click here for a list of questions for Beta Reader A to use while editing. Then, print out your own copy and get the red pen to edit! Your goal should be to edit half of your novel.

Week 22: Edit! Edit! Your goal should be to finish editing your novel. At the end of the week, consult Beta Reader A for feedback. Click here for a post on how to handle Beta Reader A’s feedback.

Week 23: Insert your hardcopy edits into your computer.

Week 24: Print once again, edit with a purple pen (not quite so violent of a color to edit with this go round haha) and insert the hardcopy as you finish each chapter.

Week 25: Edit and insert the hardcopy edits as you finish each chapter. Your goal is to complete the edits and at the end of the week, send to Beta Reader B for feedback on overall feel of book.

Week 26: Polish week. Stay in touch with Beta Reader B as they go through your book. If Beta Reader has any edits, consider and adjust your novel accordingly. If they have major issues, you may want to add one more week for edits, but if the edits are done thoroughly the first time, you shouldn’t have as many edits as round one.

*Note: in order to make the last 6 weeks stay on schedule, you have to consult with Beta Reader A to make sure she/he can read your rough draft in two weeks. Also, Beta Reader B must be able to read your final draft in one week.

I hope this helps scheduling your writing…and I hope I can stay on my new writing schedule as well! As a reforming pantser, I am finding how much I enjoy making and staying on a schedule as it helps me maintain focus on my word count goals each week.

Happy Writing!

Photo Cred: Unsplash.com

About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock’s first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, will be releasing in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection in August 2017. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota.

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