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A novel in 30 days? Really?

It’s been a week and a half since the Guardian did their ‘How to Write a Novel in 30 Days’ supplement. According to which, by now, you should have drafted your characters and plot and be busy doing research. Chop chop!

I suppose writing a novel in 30 days is just about possible. Ray Bradbury is supposed to have written the first draft of Fahrenheit 451 in nine days. Jack Kerouac claimed to have written the first draft of On the Road in three weeks. However, Kerouac had done years of travelling, making notes, and trying different forms for his story before he made that attempt. The Guardian template – whereby you research, draft and revise all in thirty days – is bonkers.

I’m sure the reason that the Guardian went with the ‘in 30 days’ angle was to have a hook for the piece, rather than just publish another ‘how to write a novel’ supplement. It also makes the endeavour less daunting and more appealing – like those diets that promise to help you lose a stone in a week. But writing a novel is daunting, and there are no quick fixes. It took me about a year and a half to write my first book, and it’s taking about the same for my second one. It does require a lot of perseverance – and an attention span a bit longer than 30 days…

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