Guest Post: “How to Write a Book a Year, and Work Full Time” by William C. Dietz

dietzwc-authorpicI had always wanted to write a novel, and with luck, publish it. And for some reason I chose age 40 as my deadline. But the years passed and, on the day when I turned 39, I hadn’t written a single page. There were numerous reasons for that not the least of which was the fact that I had a demanding job, a wife, and two children.

What to do? Should I slip the deadline to 50? Give up? Or make the book happen somehow. I chose option three. All you have to do is write one page a day, I reasoned (about 300 words), and you’ll have a rough draft 365 days later! (300 words a day x 365 = 109,500 words.) And guess what? It worked. The book (Galactic Bounty) sold right away.

So assuming that you have the necessary skills and determination it can be done. Here’s how: First examine the way your life is organized to determine where an hour of writing will fit into your schedule. Before work? After work? It doesn’t matter so long as you make it happen.

And remember, the hour doesn’t include sharpening pencils, surfing the internet, or staring at the wall. To succeed you must have a notion of what you’re going to write before the hour begins. A good outline will help.

And don’t attempt to steal that hour a day from your employer. It isn’t right, they’ll catch you, and then where will you be? And don’t use your employer’s computer, email, or internet access in connection with your writing either.


The goal is to make writing as much a part of your day as taking a shower, eating food, and getting some exercise. Will it require some sacrifice? No, not if you’re single, and living alone. For everyone else the answer is an emphatic yes. Be it right or wrong, good or bad, writing a book a year meant I spent less time with my family.

The good news is that, thanks to the extra income I made from writing, my wife and I were able to take our daughters to Mexico, Australia, and Europe. Was that a good trade-off? I don’t know — but it’s the one I made. And, because writing made me happy (well, mostly), I think I was a better father than I would have been otherwise.

Having determined when you’re going to write — make sure you have a place to do it. If you live alone this won’t be a problem, but if you live with others, you’ll need some sort of retreat. (Stephen King started out writing in the furnace room of his trailer, after a full day of work.) Make sure that you have all of the necessary supplies there, including internet access for your research.

Then, with your outline in hand, and your life organized appropriately, begin writing a page a day. And, that’s every day except for major holidays, your daughter’s wedding, or an organ transplant.

If you’re on-schedule you should produce a twenty-five to thirty page chapter each month. I write the first draft long hand — but many authors prefer to compose at the keyboard. Either approach is fine. But the advantage to writing the first draft long hand is the freedom to work anywhere without a laptop. (Tablets, real tablets, don’t require AC.)

Once a chapter is complete type it into your computer. During that process you’ll see  opportunities to choose different words, improve flow, strengthen descriptions and so forth. As soon as that’s accomplished print it out and take it with you.

DietzWC-AR2-Seek&DestroyUKHere’s a chance to edit on a plane to Chicago, at lunch in the cafeteria, or while the kids are taking their bassoon lessons. After completing the first chapter start the second one. Continue the process until you’re done.

If you need to write fourteen chapters instead of twelve, or you lose three weeks to a special assignment in California, forgive the world and move on. It will come “write” in the end. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

But what about quality? Good question! Would my books have been better had I been free to write full time? Maybe… Probably. But I couldn’t. So I wrote what I could — and managed to sell it. And that, my friends, is the ultimate test is it not? Unless you’re a literary author — and writing a chapter a year. (Oops! That was snarky. My bad.)

Okay, back to the one-year book. When you’re finished, print it out and put the red pen to work. I suggest that you tackle no more than one chapter at a time. Again, you’ll be amazed to discover how much work you can accomplish while commuting on the train or waiting for the dryer to buzz.

Once the edit is complete enter the changes into your computer and make more improvements as needed. It might be necessary to take two or three days of vacation in order to perform the last edit. Finally, print the whole thing out, go over it one more time, and correct the inevitable typos.

Then it’s time to dedicate the novel to the people you ignored, abused, or otherwise offended while writing the book and send it off. Oh, and one more thing… Start a new book! I wrote fourteen additional books before I retired, one page at a time.


William C. Dietz‘s Seek and Destroy is published by Ace Books in the US, and Titan Books in the UK in August. Here’s the synopsis:

As people fight to survive the aftereffects of more than a dozen meteor strikes, a group of wealthy individuals conspires to rebuild the United States as a corporate entity called the New Confederacy, where the bottom line is law. As a second civil war rages, and families fight families, Union president Samuel T. Sloan battles to keep the country whole.

To help in the fight for unity, Union Army captain Robin “Mac” Macintyre and her company of Stryker vehicles are sent after the ruthless “warlord of warlords,” an ex–Green Beret who rules a large swath of the West. But defeating him will be even more difficult than she thought. The warlord is receiving military assistance from Mac’s sister — and rival — Confederate major Victoria Macintyre. And when the siblings come together in the war-torn streets of New Orleans, only one of them will walk away.

Ace and Titan Books have also published the first in the series, Into the Guns. The third novel in the series, Battle Hymn, is due out in February 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter


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