In a blog post last week, JA Konrath posed a challenge to the writers who frequent his blog. It was based on a game that he played with himself to see if he could write, edit, design a cover for, and publish a short book in less than an hour. While drunk. Needless to say, he succeeded four times with a short series of silly stories that have since proven quite financially successful.
After proving to himself just how quickly he could produce a book, he posed a challenge to his readers. The assignment was to write, edit, design a cover for, and publish a short story with less than eight hours of work. The carrot for the challenge was a mention in his blog for any writer who managed to successfully complete the task.
The challenge made me think of Dean Wesley Smith and his insistence that there is a disconnect between writing quickly and writing well. Dean insists that writing a book quickly has no bearing on its quality, and recently publicly wrote a 70,000 word novel within a ten day period. Now, I’m not sure whether or not I’m up to writing a full novel that quickly, but I decided to take a shot at Joe’s challenge and see if I could write a 5,000 word short story, design a cover, and publish it on Amazon with less than eight hours of work.
This is how Abigail Abernathy: All-Night Analytical Engine Analyst came to be.
I’d had the idea for Abigail Abernathy kicking around in my head for several months now. Since I work at an Internet provider during the day and part of my job is providing tech support to customers, I wondered what it would be like if instead of electronic computers, people instead used steam-powered computers like the analytical engine designed, but never actually built, so long ago.
So I set to writing, and maybe it was because the idea had fermented in my subconscious so long, even though I never put any real thought into the actual plot, but the writing went much quicker than I thought it would. In all, I estimate that I spent maybe 5 1/2 hours writing the actual story, which clocked in at just under 5,400 words when it was completed.
Editing went very quickly. I considered Heinlein’s Rules, which say that you should never rewrite except when told by an editor. Still, I gave it a quick once-over to correct typos, fill in missing words (which happens a lot, strangely enough), and change a word here and there. All in all, I spent about an hour.
Next was the cover design, which was really just a quick bit of Photoshopping using a pair of stock images and then slapping on some typography. I’m actually very proud of the final result, and I’m sure that my covers will only get better with practice. This was all done while watching an episode of the greatest reality show in the world, Masterchef Australia, so I know it took an hour.
Last was the publishing. I wrote the story in a template that was already formatted for Kindle, so I didn’t have to do any sort of formatting before uploading it to Amazon. Fifteen minutes later, everything was done.
So, the breakdown of time is as follows:
|Writing:||5 1/2 Hours|
|Total:||7 3/4 Hours|
It was close, but I managed to squeak in under the eight hour limit.
I just want to thank Joe for putting this challenge out there and motivating not only me, but other writers to push themselves and see what we are capable of. This won’t be the last time I push myself to write both quickly and well.
This doesn’t just apply to writing. You can take anything that you normally do or even something that you’ve never done and push yourself to your limits to see what you’re capable of accomplishing. Have you ever pushed yourself like that, or do you have any plans to do so? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!