How To Write a Bad Book

I’m doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you write a novel in a month) again this year. I did it two years ago with mixed results.

The good – I wrote and finished a book.

The bad – it wasn’t very good.

I then spent the next six to eight months trying to make it very good. And I failed.

So it sits on my hard drive (and my back up external hard drive) along with my other failed books: the boy vampire book, the haunted middle school book, the mysterious baseball star book, the possessed soccer ball book, the boy who ate a walrus book, etc.

Yes, all those books exist. And all aren’t very good. They are all good ideas, but I failed them.

So writing a bad book isn’t new for me, or rather failing in writing a good one. In general, it takes me 4-6 months to write a good book, and 8-12 months to write a bad one that I abandon.

I should just give up after seven months, figuring if it takes me that long it’s not very good. Except I’ve been working for almost two years on my favorite book of them all, so I won’t follow that advice.

I won’t mention that one, since I’m afraid I’ll jinx it. Although after almost two years, it’s probably jinxed already.

By the way, I usually am working on more than one book at a time. That’s how I can write so many bad ones. Right now I’m working on three books, including my new NaNoWriMo book.

I write many more bad books then good books. My goal is to just figure that out quicker.

In advertising, where I began my career, they say the difference between a starting copywriter and an experienced one, is that the starter comes up with 12 ideas but doesn’t know which ones are good. The senior comes up with six ideas, but knows exactly if they’re good or not.

So I’m hoping that same philosophy holds true with book writing. I feel like I’m exiting my beginning stage and going to the next phase, the mid-level phase. But really, qualifying for that phase will depend almost entirely on how fast I can recognize my bad book ideas versus my good ones.

I’m hoping my NaNoWriMo book is one of my good ones. I’ll let you know in six months.


About Allan Woodrow

I'm an author of children's books and grocery lists ... I live outside Chicago with a house, a yard, a family and very little perspective about any of it.
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One Response to How To Write a Bad Book

  1. jrwillliams says:

    Interesting post. I also have many unfinished projects and have no business starting something new, but I’m in the midst of Nanowrimo. I wish I had more hours in the day. Good luck!

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