From “Book in a Week” to BOOK!

Using the wonders of Yahoo groups and RWA online forums, my RWA land chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers, hosts a couple of virtual ‘meetings’ in addition to our monthly in-person meetings, where members can get cheerleading, support, and companionship while trying to meet their personal writing goals.

The first, “Club 100,” helps our members develop and maintain sustainable, long-term writing habits. In its purest form, “Club 100” participants commit to writing (or editing, or revising) at least 100 words per day, for 100 days – but much like the Rubies’ Winter Writing Festival, this goal can be customized.

The other virtual ‘meeting,’ held one week per month, is called “Book in a Week.” BIAW is meant as a short-term productivity blast, where participants write as much as they can during the week immediately following our monthly meeting.  As is the case with “Club 100,” BIAWers get virtual companionship, support, and accountability while meeting individual writing goals.

Members of these groups absolutely love them, but people who go it alone also find the “Club 100” and “Book in a Week” concepts to be hella productive. Today, my friend and MFW chapter mate. 2010 Golden Heart finalist Nancy Holland, shares how the “Book in a Week” concept helped her write her latest fantasy novel, Felyn’s Curse.   

Take it away, Nancy!


By the time I finished Thalgor’s Witch, my first fantasy novel, it had already won the first two of several RWA chapter contests, so I had no doubt it would sell right away. (Narrator voice: She was wrong.) I was teaching then and had free time during the summer (although not as much as you would think). So I decided to try to write the sequel that became Felyn’s Curse in one week.

I had already done some prep work on the project: the goal, motivation, and conflict for the heroine and hero and a few other characters; a few scenes sketched out in my mind; and the basic plot points (more would have been better). I had a few other things on my side, too. My kids were old enough that they and my husband could pick up the slack in what had to be done around the house. In addition, at that time I drafted longhand and typed the pages into a computer later. That meant I could pick up my writing and carry it from place to place rather than having to sit at a desk all day every day.

Needless to say, I didn’t really expect to finish the book in one week, but setting that goal helped keep me on task. I ended up writing six out of twenty eventual chapters or very roughly twenty-nine thousand words. That averages out to over four thousand words a day, or twice the NaNoWriMo daily goal. The prep work helped, but another huge factor was being able to keep my mind “in the story.” Obviously, the more hours a day I wrote, the fewer hours I spent thinking about other things, but more than that, the more time I spent with my characters, the more deeply I fell into their world.

NaNoWriMo actually offers a useful comparison. I “won” NaNo (i.e., finished a 50k book) another year when I was on sabbatical and didn’t have to teach. I wrote fewer words per day in NaNo, but the BIAW was actually easier. Part of the difference was being able to stay more fully in the story, but another part was that it was easier to impose on my family and otherwise shut down my life for the shorter period of time than it was to half-way keep up with things for a whole month. If I ever wanted to produce a book in a hurry again, I think I would alternate BIAWs with two or three normal writing weeks rather than writing it in a single month.

Of course, everyone is different and your mileage may vary. Two huge variables are your work/family situation and where you are on the pantser/plotter scale (I fall somewhere on the pantser side of the middle). Still, writing almost a third of Felyn’s Curse in one week taught me both what I was capable of doing and my limits. If you have trouble freeing up all of November for NaNo or are curious about what it would be like to really write “full time” (i.e., all day every day), you might want to see if the BIAW approach works as well for you as it did for me.


Nancy, thanks so much for this glimpse into your process! 

Ruby Readers:  What do you think about the “Book in a Week” concept? Nancy will be with us today to respond to any questions or comments you may have.

Also… today is Felyn’s Curse‘s book birthday! The blurb:

When Felyn was a young, defenseless witch, she was cursed to live as a shape shifter—a deadly panther. She might have been rescued and raised by a noble and powerful leader, but she lives in fear she will hurt those she loves in her animal form so each full moon she hides deep in the forest. But how can she refuse her adoptive father’s plea for an arranged marriage with a new ally? After all, it’s temporary and in name only…

Varz agrees to an arranged marriage reluctantly because he needs the military and diplomatic alliance. He has secrets and a growing power struggle back home. He’s relieved he need only marry the young witch for a year until he meets his bride. Felyn is beautiful and intelligent and not easy to ignore, but Varz is a man of his word. His vow to leave his bride untouched will be the hardest one he has had to keep.

Congratulations, Nancy! 

Buy links for Felyn’s Curse:

 Amazon | BN | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

17 responses to “From “Book in a Week” to BOOK!”

  1. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    Great post! And inspirational, too. Grabbing that momentum, even if it’s a small amount, can do wonders. It’s a snowball effect. One you don’t want to slow or stop once you get going. Thanks for sharing!
    I think the Club 100 idea is awesome, too. I want to implement that into my accountability group.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Jennifer. Yes, both BIAW and Club100 are great ways to spark your writing and keep at it. I’m so grateful for the support I get from Tamara and the rest of our land chapter!

  2. I love BIAW–went to April Kihlstrom’s workshop at National years ago about it. I’ve done it several times and made great progress. I also use 100 x 100 and highly recommend to start a book while you’re working on another…keeps the process going. Thanks for bringing this up.

  3. Happy Book Birthday, Nancy!!! Love your cover and the book sounds fascinating!

    I’m a binge writer who loves to immerse herself in a story, so my drafting process probably mirrors BIAW pretty closely. Right now I’m frantically trying to finish a draft before a family vacation – which feels a lot like trying to write a book in a week! 🙂

  4. Yeah, Vivi, sometimes I think the only difference between a BIAW and the normal deadline crunch is that you plan on a BIAW, enlist the help of your family or others you live with, and stock up on chocolate ahead of time!

  5. Darynda Jones says:

    Congrats, Nancy!!! I, too, love BIAW. It forces you to just put words on the page and worry about editing later. I’m quite the binger and though I’m trying to become a more productive “daily” writer, I still have to resort to the occasional binge-fest.

    Thanks for being here and sharing your experience!

    • Hi, Darynda! I’m surprised how many people here were already into my “secret” approach to writing a book in a hurry. Guess I shouldn’t have been!

  6. I forgot to say a huge “thank you” to Tamara for the freat intro post and for hosting me here today!

    • Ugh! I meant “great intro,” not freat! Is there an edit button on these things?

    • Tamara Hogan says:

      Thank YOU, Nancy! And yeah, the lack of an edit button can really be a pain in the keister. Sorry!

      I had to laugh when you talked about NaNoWriMo in your post, about how it’s easier to shut down your life and binge-write for a week rather than for a month. NaNo taking place during the month of November is basically why we started our Winter Writing Festival, and scheduled it for January. Ruby Sis Jamie Michele nailed it when she came up with the event’s tagline: “Finally! A writing festival that doesn’t span a major holiday. (You know women are running it.)”

      Even binge-writing has to fit into our lives. 🙂

      • I love the Winter Writing Festival, Tamara! Even have it bookmarked on my browser, even tho’ it doesn’t work for me to do it every year. (This year I had two very different projects “in development,” as they say in the movie business.) It sure is easier to fit into a life than NaNo!

  7. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Do people use BIAW for first-drafting a story? My current WIP is too far along to benefit from writing-without-editing. But I have other story ideas swirling around. Would it make sense to put WIP on hold and use BIAW to get a new story out–knowing that I would go immediately back to the WIP?

    • I’m not an expert, but the 29k words I did on Felyn’s Curse that week was only about 1/3 of the book. It helped me get over that awful bump between what you already know about the beginning of the story and whatever comes next. (As I said, not a plotter!) You know your own process best, but what you suggest wouldn’t work for me. I can write and edit two books at a time, at least in the short term, but I wouldn’t even attempt writing two stories at once!

  8. Hi, everyone. It’s Wednesday morning and I’m not seeing any comments posted after about 2 p.m. on Tuesday. I’m sorry not to be able to reply to everyone personally, but appreciate all of you showing up and the Rubies for having me here.

  9. Elisa Beatty says:

    What a cool concept! I’ve heard of Book in a Week, but didn’t know how it worked.

    I’m a teacher, too…maybe I can start off my summer this way!!

    Congrats on the new book, and thanks for being with us today!


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