Sci-fi paranormal author Kevin Tumlinson took two years to write his first book. Now it takes him 15 days to write a first draft, and he says anyone can do it. This week, I have a chat with Kevin about how he came to write The 30-Day Author: Develop a Daily Writing Habit and Write Your Book in 30 Days (or Less), the three podcasts he hosts, and how he is miniaturizing his life into an RV.
Kevin published the First Colony, the first book of his Citadel series, in 2008, the “Wild West” days of self-publishing. Originally developed for a web series project, First Colony eventually became the first book in a trilogy. The problem was, even though Kevin had built up a solid reputation as one of the best copywriters in the country (and fast!), it had taken him two years to write Book 1. He delayed a year before starting Book 2, which took him another two years to write, and he dreaded facing the same long process for Book 3. If he wanted to make writing fiction a full-time endeavor, he knew he was going to have to write books much faster.
“No business can survive putting a product out only every two to four years, so I had to change my ways.”
And so Kevin got serious about treating his writing career like a business. He spent a lot of time consuming books and podcasts, getting himself educated about his field of choice, and he began practicing writing daily. Then he set out to conquer NaNoWriMo, aiming to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Instead, he wrote 70,000 words in 15 days.
What Kevin discovered astounded him. This fast-drafted book required less editing than the first two books he had spent years crafting, and his readers loved it and felt it was his strongest book so far.
Naturally, he wondered if his feat was repeatable. So he wrote another book in 15 days. And another. And another. By the end of six weeks, he had four new books!
Today Kevin has 22 titles and counting, including his helpful nonfiction title for writers, 30-Day Author: Develop a Daily Writing Habit and Write Your Book in 30 Days (or Less). In it, Kevin presents his process for fast-drafting a book in 30 days or less.
“If you’re trying to edit as you go, it doesn’t just double or even triple the amount of time it takes to write a book, it increases the time exponentially. You’ll spend years writing a book you could have written inside a month. I’m proof of that.”
He says anyone who can commit to writing an hour or two a day can do it. The first essential element is commitment. “If your goal is to write fiction full-time,” he says, “if you really want that, you will do that.”
Secondly, you need to be able to turn off your inner editor and just focus on writing. “When you’re writing, you have only one job, and that is to write. That’s the only job you have.” Save the editing for later.
Kevin also encourages writers to treat all their writing as professional writing. Emails, letters, social media posts — make it clean, concise, and professional.
“I think it would serve every writer well to treat themselves like a client.”
Kevin also stresses the necessity to treat your writing projects as if it were an assignment from a paying client. Work on it every day, make your deadlines, and deliver a great product.
The Next Big Thing:
Kevin and his wife have always enjoyed traveling, and one day they realized that most people live a certain way out of habit, and if they wanted to get on with traveling, then they should just do it.
So Kevin is getting ready to take his horse-and-pony show on the road to adventure! He and his wife have been busy downsizing their life in phases — from 2,500 square foot home to 900 square foot apartment to starter camper — with the ultimate goal to work, live, and travel in an RV. The ultimate mobile office.
Happy travels, Kevin! And make sure you post pics!
- Write every day. In his book, 30-Day Author, Kevin writes that his initial goals in writing were to write two hours a week. “That’s like saying, ‘I want to be an Olympic gymnast, so I’m going to find two hours a week to practice.” You’ve got to practice like you mean it, and you’ve got to practice every day.
- Turn off your inner editor. Kevin notes that many authors feel they have to achieve perfection as they’re writing, and so are constantly smoothing out their prose as they work, a process that exponentially increases the time it takes to get to the end of a draft. Stop worrying if you’ve got the tense exactly right or whether the tone of that one paragraph is eloquently expressed. The only thing you should be worried about is writing, Kevin says. Editing comes later, after the book is written.
- Monotask your writing time. Don’t do anything else but the writing. It deserves your full and undivided attention.
What’s the fastest time you’ve ever written a book? What was your most important strategy in writing your book quickly?
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