The title of this post is a clickbaity lie, and I’m a fraud for writing it.
If you came here looking for an awe-inspiring, foolproof plan for becoming an author in just over 2 weeks, you’re in the wrong place. I have no authority on this issue. I’ve never done this thing.
But please notice that I said “write” up there. Not “publish,” or “market,” or any of the other stuff that turns you into an author that’s read by complete strangers. “Becoming an author” definitely isn’t the same thing as “challenging yourself to thrash out a first draft of something in record time” – which is what this is.
But in essence, yes, I am indeed writing a book in 15 days, starting shortly.
It’s a beautiful read – and it’s a really short one, just 70-odd pages. In essence, it’s a collection of gorgeous essays strung together on a theme, each able to stand alone and each combining to form a book-like whole, with a beginning, middle and ending, and a message that really says something.
In my ignorance, my first thought was, “Six or seven long-ish articles woven together? Hey! I could do that.” And because I’m ignorant, that thought stuck.
It’s ignorance because Pico Iyer is a truly incredible writer.
It’s ignorance because I’ve never written a book this way.
And it’s ignorance because I’ve never written a book in any other way, even a short one – let alone in 15 days.
However, none of these facts mean I can’t try – and trying is where you really find out what’s true. (Also, to channel my inner Klingon, it is better to fail in glorious battle – and it also feels like a wise move if your brand relies on inviting strangers to laugh at you, as mine seems to do these days.)
My friend Tasha is doing it too:
And Anna is nervously onboard as well.
And I think Torre might be on the verge of being persuaded to plot out her next book.
Maybe you too?
But yes, you want to know what this involves. (Very sensible of you.) The good news is that rules are for fools, so we’re mostly ignoring them. In a nutshell:
- It has to be a book. What’s a book? That’s up to you. You won’t be banging out Lord Of The Rings or a Tom Clancy novel in 15 days, so aim small. Tasha and I are aiming for 20-30k words – around 2,000 a day. Short books can be terrific too, as anyone who has read The War Of Art will agree.
- It has to be a complete (first) draft. Don’t worry about anything beyond that – it’ll be infinitely editable later. Just get it done, with enormous joy or enormous misery, whichever flavour of experience you prefer.
- It takes 15 days from the time you start. Note that “starting” doesn’t have to include planning out your book, if you don’t want it to. Feel free to take a few days mapping out a direction for yourself, plus gathering together any necessary research and so on. (Let’s not be completely unprofessional here.) You can start when you’re ready. Just make sure you’re ready soon – like, in a week’s time, something like that. Wait any longer, and it might sink in how reckless and foolish all this is, and then you’ll never start.
- The aim is to get it done, not win a Pulitzer. I mean, do you know how long it takes to write a good book? Chances are that my book, and Tasha’s, and maybe yours, will be a disturbingly awful mess when we hit our artificial finish-line. As a reader, you’ll be able to see what we’re trying to do, but it’ll be clear that we’ve mostly failed to do it. Except you won’t see, because nobody but ourselves will ever see this farcical dog’s-breakfast of a first attempt. I mean, only a true lunatic would try to write a publishable book in 15 days. So take heart. We’re not doing that.
I could go on – but I’ve got a book to write (tentatively titled “How To Be Rained On”).
So – would you like to nail your own colours to the mast of this ship of fools, and try to write your own whatever-you-want-to-call-a-book in just 15 days?
It’ll be fun. Or awful! Or both – in which case, it’s what I like to call an “adventure”.
Best of luck! We’re really going to need it.