I need a novel in 17 days. I'll give you $100,000!

faster, faster, faster

A friend of mine asked me to write her a novel... or rather a novel for her to read. She was about to head out to Mexico with her husband and wanted something to read on the beach while big man slept.

She did not, of course, offer me $100,000 to do this. But wouldn't it be cool if she did?

My first though is, "I'm working on a novel right now, so maybe I'll be done with it by the time they board their plane."

My next thought is, "I wonder when they are going on vacation?"

17 days.

That's funny right? I mean it's so ridiculous to think that someone could write a novel in 17 days, let alone a book that would be at least halfway round the readable corner.

But then I thought about it.

What if a stranger walked up to me today and told me they wanted to hire me to write a novel. They'd give me 17 days to get it done. It would have to be 75,000 words or better and tell a real, complete, reasonably edited story.

Let's see... I already have a couple of different story ideas pretty well plotted out. I even have a project that has a pretty decent word count on it already.

But we'll pretend I haven't yet written a word.

Here's how my brain drills this down:

1) 17 days = 408 hours total to get it done.

2) I should shoot for 6 hours of sleep each day. So subtract 102 hours.

3) Need 2 hours a day for eating, showering and other... so subtract 34 hours.

4) That gives me 272 hours of possible writing time.

5) I'll need to take maybe 1/3 of that up in plotting, sketching, freakily fast editing, etc.

6) That leaves me with just about 180 hours to get it done on the keyboard.

7) I can type 75 wpm, but when I'm composing it's more like 30.

8) There are 10,800 minutes in 180 hours.

9) That gives me the potential to write 324,000 words. I'm in the black almost 250,000 words!

So it's possible! I'd have to burn up all my vacation time, alienate my kids, ignore my wife and probably gain 20 pounds eating crap, but it is actually possible to pound out 75,000 words in 17 days.


That's the real question, isn't it?

I'd be risking my job, so it'd have to be good. I might not have any form of support afterwards.

$100,000? Oh, yes please. For that much, I'd get a hotel room to stay in while I wrote.

$50,000? Yep. Still with the hotel room.

$25,000? Um, that's pretty good. If I knew I'd still have a job when I got back, I'd take this sum as well. If not, then not.

Any less than that and I'd have to seriously consider it. At that point I'd have to look at the back-end and see if there was any benefit for me there... maybe build a fan base... maybe catch the eye of a reputable agent.

Now here's the trick. I need to put myself in that frame of mind, that frantic must-get-it-done zone and stay that way... ALL THE TIME.

Sorry for the capitals.

What would put you in that state?

Thanks for reading, off to write... urgently!




  1. Writing is definitely in your blood. You seem like you enjoy it so much. And, having read your books, I think you have a right to enjoy what comes naturally to you.

  2. Nancy Barrett10/3/11 13:08

    Hey Casey - if you're staying in a hotel by yourself to complete the project, you could reduce the time for showering to every other day or every third day - LOL!

    Actually, if you started your 17 days on a Saturday, you would only miss 11 days of work - a lot of people have that kind of time saved up between vacation and sick time.

    I'd do this in a heartbeat if the payout was guaranteed for the delivered product. Here's how I look at it. Even at the piddly $25,000 level, that's $1470 per day. At my most recent job, it would have taken me almost 35 weeks to earn that $25,000 (ironically, that's exactly how long I kept that job :Q).

    Quite frankly, the only motivation I would need at this point is the cash. $25,000 would help us start a business; or maybe help us find a decent place to rent in a few months. Things look a lot different when your family income is slashed 62%

  3. Wouldn't that be nice to be able to just write that many words strung together that would make sense? In such a short time? Fabulous.

    Save me a copy when you finish...

  4. Write for money????

    Unheard of....



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