Writing a Novel in 3 Months – Is It Crazy?

If you’re a writer and you don’t follow Reedsy, what are you doing?

Seriously, Reedsy is an incredible resource. It’s kind of hard to define exactly what it is because it’s pretty much everything a writer needs! Their blog talks about everything writing-related, from how to come up with a story idea to where and how to get your book published, not to mention all of the resources they provide, like worksheets and writing prompts. They even host small writing contests all the time! They also have courses you can take on writing and publishing topics. And they host live interviews on all sorts of writing things with various authors. There’s even a marketplace where writers, editors, designers, and more can offer their services and others can buy them! (I’m actually in the process of joining the marketplace as a writer, ghostwriter, and/or editor, so I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.)

I wasn’t prompted by anyone to say this, by the way. I just think that Reedsy is a massive free resource that writers should be using! If you just browse around the site for a few minutes, you’ll likely find something interesting and/or informative.

The 90-Day Novel

Recently, Reedsy did an interview with author David Samuel Levinson. I haven’t read any of his books, but the title of the interview intrigued me: “How to Write a Book in Three Months.” This is especially interesting to me right now, as I’m dedicated to finishing my WIP Project Pea this year.

This really isn’t such a mind-blowing notion, right? We all know about NaNoWriMo, where the challenge is to complete a 50k novel in one month. I love NaNo, it’s fantastic, and I’ve done it many times! But there is one major issue with it (at least for me): if your book is longer, where’s the motivation to finish it after the 50k words in November?

While, to be honest, the interview with Levinson was a little slow for my taste (I’d recommend reading the transcript, probably), the author did have lots of great points and good tips/experiences on how to motivate yourself to complete a task like writing a novel in three months. He had some really good insight on characters, too.

But my biggest takeaway from the interview was the way Levinson described the writing process.

A Visual Writing Process

Levinson suggested about a month of preparatory work before writing a word of the novel – and he’s a pantser! As a pantser myself, I’ve been trying to rein myself in recently and plan just a bit more before I jump into writing, as I’ve wasted a lot of time with writing and rewriting again and again. And mostly, Levinson stressed working on the characters, which I loved, since you all know I’m a huge advocate for the notion that characters make or break your story.

After the prep work, your three months of work begin. Probably the coolest thing from the interview was how Levinson described the writing process. He didn’t talk about outlines and chapters and plot coherence – instead, at the beginning of the interview, he asked the audience to picture an image of their main character from first the beginning, then the middle, and finally the end of the story. Then, he said the thing that blew my mind:

The writing process is simply writing from one image to the next.

I don’t know about you, but this was news to me. I’d never heard anyone say it that way before, and it put a whole new perspective on the writing process. No more endless details and complications; rather, the whole plot can be simplified into three images.

Of course, you have to know what those images are first, and to do that, you need to have some kind of coherent story idea. But it tricks your brain into simplifying things, cutting out all that fear of, “Where do I go from here?”

The Next Step

The timing really worked out here, didn’t it? I had only just started planning out the basics of my new and improved Project Pea when I saw this video.

So, I now have my plan. This month, I’m…well, planning! I’ve already got pages upon pages written about the first main character, and I’m well into writing an essay on the second one as well. I have six characters that I need detailed bios on – three main characters and three minor. In doing this, I’ve also been discovering more about the new story world in which the plot takes place.

Next, I’ll come up with those three images that will drive my writing. I’ve never written this way before, so we’ll see how it goes! I’ll keep you updated with my progress.

And if you’re looking for even more writing resources, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get my free book, The 10 Lost Elements of Storytelling!

What do you think? Is writing a full novel in 90 days possible? What do you think about the visual writing process? Let me know!

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

4 thoughts on “Writing a Novel in 3 Months – Is It Crazy?

  1. As a fellow pantser, I have to say that this is inspiring indeed. But I have trouble holding solid images in my head, so it’s hard for me to write from one image to the next. I guess I’ll still need to find my own path somehow, lol. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, that makes sense!! I have an eerily accurate photographic memory and images just stick in my brain so this method was an absolute godsend for me 😂 I wonder if, instead, you could write down the series of images in word form, or compose a series of brief scenes instead? It would keep the spirit of the method but translate it from images to writing… I don’t know! But I’m certainly interested to see what you come up with!


  2. Pingback: What if my New Year’s resolutions aren’t working out? | E.J. Robison

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