No reading or writing today. Here is my first video blog that i maybe made a little too late at night.
One week of writing articles left. After that, it is christmas, new years eve and then the fun begins. Nervous? You bet I am.
I have filled my whiteboards with scribblings. I have practiced my cheap broccoli and coli flour soup recipes. I have sharpened my pen and replenished my inkwell. And I have told my banker not to think I am dead in the coming months. I am just on a long financial vacation:-)
To get inspired, I started reading Hunger Games. I thought it would be a good idea to learn a few tricks from the best of the breed, and Suzanne Collins is exactly that. More than 100 million copies sold is quite convincing.
In writing this blog post, I looked up the Hunger Games trilogy on Wikipedia and found that Suzanne Collins wrote one book in the series a year. I hope to write one book a month. I have surely given myself a challenge that will be a hard one to meet. This is OK – hence the word ‘challenge’.
The other day I did a test of how fast I could actually write something worth reading. I took a day off and wrote for six hours along the lines of what I will write in my novels. I repeated the exercise the following day resulting in 4.000 good words one day and only 2.000 good words the other. Averaging 3.000 words a day is OK, and it should be enough for me to meet my daily target of 3.000-3.500 words, even if I would have liked the average to be a little higher than 500 words an hour. Maybe I will become faster as I progress.
So, what did I learn from this exercise?
Well, the day I wrote 4.000 words I described a sea battle between two 17th century sailing ships and their crew. The words came easily, and I had great momentum from passage to passage. Cannon balls flew through the air, sailors fell into shark infested waters, and the final battle scene between the two captains was worthy of a Hollywood movie. At least in my opinion. I was actually quite optimistic after that.
Then came the second day. There I challenged myself to write the inner thoughts of a 15-year-old girl forced to marry a man she did not love. The experience was like ramming my head into a brick wall. Let me put it like this: I will need to practice a bit more in December or my heroes will be devoid of emotions.
Able to write about 500 words an hour – check.
Able to write exciting battle scenes – check
Able to write about love and fears from a young girl’s perspective – work in progress.
I am counting days.
Today, I want to write a little about taking risks. It is one of my favorite subject to talk about so I might as well get it on text as well.
Let us start with the facts: I have a great job and a great salary, and I love both parts. I love to go out for dinner, buy nice cloth and get what I like from the supermarket, and not only what I can afford. If I want to buy something for my wife, my kids or myself or travel somewhere, I just do it. I do not need to count the pennies first, and it is nice. Really nice.
The above-mentioned is of course what I am risking, since I am giving it all up for a stab at a career as an author – an author with a guaranteed income of nil, nada, zip, rien… You probably get the point. I have a lot, and I stand to lose a lot. Financially, that is. My wife has told me, divorce is not an imminent threat for the time being.
I know that in the coming months I will probably get tired of broccoli soup and tired of looking at an ever dwindling bank account. I will probably question my decision a million times and look back at the days when money came flowing in on a daily basis, and I ordered double up on the expensive sushi because I liked to and could afford it.
So why am I still taking the risk with this foolish career change, when I seemingly have all a man could wish for and then some?
I take the risk because I mentally cannot afford to have a dream and not go for it. I do not want to live a life where my dreams are dictated by my fears of losing something as meaningless as coins and bills. Yes, they are nice to have, but I also make a damn good broccoli soup. I would rather save money on cloth, expensive sushi and travels and live my dream than sit on a Michelin star restaurant talking about how I have a dream, but I do not dare to reach out for it. To me it is not really risk taking. It is a logical choice.
My wife and I have a saying that we try to live by when we face tough decisions. It goes like this: ‘What is the worst thing that could happen?’ When you ask yourself that question, it puts things into perspective.
To me it is a good reminder that I live an over-privileged life where the worst-case scenario for the imminent future is finding out I cannot write anything worth reading, and I have to beg to get my old job back. God forbid it, I might even have to get a real job from 9 to 5. What a horrible thought!!! My kids will not starve to death, and I will not need to sell a kidney. That is not what I am risking by reaching out for my dream, which is why I am more than willing to go for it.
I will add that I am also a risk taker, and I fully acknowledge that many people need financial stability to sleep well at night. I do not. I need something nice to dream of to sleep well at night, and right now, it is of becoming an author.
Would you also be willing to risk a lot to live your dream?
Please feel free leave a comment
In all aspects of work life, it is important to analyze what you are good at, and where you really really suck. This way you can get help where you need it and only focus on the stuff where you are least likely to mess it up. I have applied this analysis to my Six Book in Six Months project and realized I pretty much suck at everything but writing. I could probably even make a mess of this since I have decided to write in a foreign language. Do not even get me started on English rules for comma usage.
Therefore, I have pinpointed where I need help in realizing my dream of being an author and where I will get it. I hope this will turn my great stories into great novels on your electronic device of choice.
Fortunately, I have many English and American friends who can tell me where in my writing I have made grave mistakes. Step 1 is to pass the first draft of my books to them for a quick kick in the groin and a blow to my self-confidence. Yes, I have honest friends.
Secondly, I will pay an editor to clean out the last grammatical mistakes, put in the missing commas and make it look like an actual English-speaking person wrote them.
I cannot even make a proper doodle on a piece of paper so an illustrator will help me with the front pages.
When people, who hopefully know what they are doing, have edited and illustrated my books, I will give them to my publicist, PR manager, social media specialist, key account manager, financial advisor and wife (it is the same person). She will take it from there and make sure my books are available at various eBook retailers around the world. Apparently, this is quite easy to do. She will also make sure that everyone who have ever seen Pirates of the Caribbean, heard of Captain Blackbeard, seen a flag with skull and crossbones or even played with a wooden sword will hear of them. Then they just have to be good enough for people to buy them. This is still up to me.
I can write the books alone, but I cannot make them perfect and sell them without help. Therefore, it takes two to tango, or in this case, where it actually takes a lot more people to do something that is closer to a Greek zorba.
People ask me this question a lot, when I tell them I want to write and publish six books in six months. I understand them. I ask myself that question all the time, and I will use this blog post to share some of my thoughts. This post is going to be about the development of the stories.
Since I want to write six books in six months, I’d better figure out what they are going to be about and what the stories should be well in advance. Therefore, I went to my local Chinese stuff-dealer last week and freed him of his stock of large white boards. He only had five, and I do not hope this is a bad omen. Anyways, the white boards are now hanging on my office wall, and they are still quite white as you can see in the photo. During the coming weeks I will fill these white surfaces with plots, side plots, characters, locations, events, twist and other scribblings. I might also make a doodle here and there. This way I will have every detail about the content of my six books ready before January 1. Then I ‘only’ need to write them when we get there:-). That is the plan at least.
I will write six books in a series. It is easier than developing six different sets of characters, universes and so on.
And… I will write about… Drumroll…. Drumroll extends…. Drumroll extends a little more, and now it gets annoying… piracy with a sprinkle of fantasy.
Piracy and fantasy, what the heck??? You might think. If so, here is an explanation:
I love history. As a journalist, I find articles on history the most fun to write. Give me a new archaeological discovery to describe, and I am happier than a kid in a candy store. Of the hundreds of articles, I have written on historical and prehistorical times, articles on piracy have been among the most fun to make. Piracy is in my opinion a fantastic setting for the six fast-paced adventures I will throw my main characters into. It will also be a pure joy for me to write about it.
I will give this piracy setting a hint of fantasy. I love this genre as well, and I think the combination of the two will work very well. Think something like Twilight and Hunger Games meets Pirates of the Caribbean (think I might have put the bar a little high with this comparison).
And then back to the white boards…
In the coming weeks I will think a lot. I will visualize how characters look and act. I will see great battles at sea and narrow escapes through jungle covered islands. A sword fight leaves a young girl mortally wounded, and a tyrant sentences an innocent man to be hanged. Two lovers gets separated, and cannon balls sends a ship to the bottom of the ocean. A man with a golden eye wanders the streets at night, and a ship with a dark secret is left in a cave for 100 years. All of this I write on my newly acquired white boards, and from January 1. and six month ahead I will turn all my ideas it into six amazing stories that I hope you will enjoy reading.
This is my plan and my dream, and if need be I will use 25 hours a day to make it a success.
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I have a dream.
My dream is to be able to make a living from writing fiction. I want to tell stories that linger for weeks after the last page is turned. It will be mind-boggling sci-fiction, epic historical novels, fast paced fantasy and chilling crime novels. I want to explore the depths of my imagination and create stories that pull my readers into the unique universes that I create. I guess, I am no different from most other authors in that respect.
I admire all the aspiring authors of the world. Most use hundreds of hours writing books without having the faintest idea if anyone but their grandmother and maybe an aunt will buy and read them. However they still pursue a dream when in many cases they could have chosen a safer path in life with a 9 to 5 job and a fixed salary. So could I. I actually have a great job. As a science journalist, I get to write about human evolution, climate change, genetics, history and archaeology on a daily basis. I have written more than a thousand articles on these subjects and I am very successful. Still, I want to try something new. I only have one life (most people do), and I do not want to sit in some retirement home many years from now regretting that I had a dream of writing books, but chose the safer path, because it was the financially sound thing to do.
I often cite something a nurse at a retirement home in Australia wrote in some book a few years back. She had cared for dying people for more than 25 years, and in the end she made a list of the things people regret the most before they die. The thing most people regret is:
‘I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, and not the life others expected of me.’
Now, I hope I can inspire people by pursuing my dream. Mainly, I want to inspire my children by showing them that dreams are meant to be fulfilled. If they are not, then they are only fantasies. My dream right now is to write books and be able to make a living of it. Will I succeed? I do not know, but in the end I want to be able to tell the nurse at some retirement home 60 years from now that I do not regret the life I lived, and that I truly tried to live out all of my dreams.
Feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions:-)
In the early morning hours of January 1. 2016 I will sit down in front of my laptop. With hangovers from cheap champagne and still wearing funny glasses, I will write the first of 360.000 words which eventually will become six books written in six months. It is a challenge I have given myself and I am very excited about it and overwhelmingly terrified.
The inspiration for this challenge came from a Danish author who lives in the US. I read an article about her in a magazine half a year ago. At the time of the interview, she had written 30 books in 3 years – about one a month for those who cannot do the math – and she was very successful. Being overly confident in my own abilities, I thought to myself that I could write equally fast. I also thought it would be a great way for me to realize my dream of writing fiction.
It took me about five minutes to convince myself (and five months to convince my wife) that starting a career as an author while jeopardizing our family’s economy, would be a Nobel prize-winning idea. What could possibly go wrong? We made some plans and now I am ready to take the plunge. January 1. It is.
Now, the big question is of course: Is it even possible to write six books in six months? Moreover, can books written in such a short time be worth reading?
The answer to both questions is ‘yes’. At least, that is what Google tell me. Here are some titles and some numbers:
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – two and a half days
A Study In Scarlet – three weeks
The Gambler – 26 days
On The Road – one month
These are some of the greatest novels ever written. Of course I am no Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dostoevsky, Jack Kerouac or John Boyne, but the books show that it is possible to write fast and great at the same time. I hope to do the same (without otherwise matching myself against the above-mentioned authors).
So, what do I need to do in order to write six books in six months?
My goal for each book is to write 3.000+ words a day for 20 days. That will make it a 60.000+ word novel. Afterwards, I will spend 10 days on editing and then I will publish the book no matter what. I have worked for a long time as a freelance journalist, and being payed per article and not per hour teaches a man how to write fast and meet deadlines. Besides, I am willing to spend 25 hours a day to fulfill my dream.
I am going to publish my novels as e-books only. It speeds up the process but it also presents a challenge, as only six million people in the world speak Danish and most of them still like paper between their fingers while they read. On the other hand, about 400 million people read English. I did the math and the business case and decided on writing in English even though it is not my native language. I will get friends and professionals to help me get the worst mistakes out of the books.
Will I have missed a comma when I publish? Of course I will. But you won’t notice as you are going to be too caught up in the story anyway:-)
I hope you will follow me from january 1.
On my blog you are always welcome to leave a comment.