Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Four Pages a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

I came back from a little trip up the coast a few days ago, read the posts I'd missed, and added a comment on one -- a little afterthought about writing an entire novel in a very short time. Someone e-mailed me and asked for a little more information, so - as my last post before the residency - here it is.

Basically it's four pages a day for a month. Sick or well, hot or cold, good pages or bad. The point is to push ahead. Have many men come through many doors with revolvers. Introduce new characters all the time. Have cliff-hanger chapter endings. Solve problems with Magical Realism. Defy logic. Lots of non sequiturs in dialogue. Lots of dialogue. Use any and all points of view.

Break up the four pages any way you want. If one headlong sprint is too much, write a page at four different times of the day. Turn them face down when you're done and don't re-read except to pick up the story from the last page of the day before.

Forget most of what you think you know. The only rule is to fill up the pages. At the end of thirty days you have a complete manuscript to work with, edit and revise. I guarantee there will be wonderful things in it. Surprises. Gifts from the writing-gods who love it when you sit down every day and fool around with words.

See you soon.


  1. "Forget most of what you think you know."
    My favorite line of all. I will be quoting this for the rest of my life, Ron. For my students and for myself.

  2. Now that's the ticket. Maybe this will help me keep from fussbudgeting about my stories so much, because I keep going back in my writing and picking at things, like a hen in the garden, instead of moving the hell forward and writing more words.

  3. Yes, 4 pages a day or--8 hours a day for a week or so is how I wrote my first novel during national novel writing month. Of course it will all have to be rewritten eventually, but I have a YA story in 50,000 words.