King Challenge 2017

Last year I did my own writing experiment. I didn’t know if I’d be able to accomplish my goal, but I knew I wanted to try. It stemmed from a writer’s event that had Steven King and George R. R. Martin talking about their craft. About 50 minutes into it, one of my favorite exchanges between writers was made. (Here’s a link right to the exchange, but I’ll summarize it here too.)

They were wrapping up their conversation, and Martin asked King, “How the fuck do you write so many books so fast?” with a chorus of laughter following behind. King explained that his writing process involved writing six fairly clean pages a day, 3-4 hours every day that he’s working on a book. Therefore, he could have a manuscript of about 360 pages in two months. Martin asked him if he regularly hit six pages a day, and King said he usually did. Martin then further asked, “You don’t ever have a day where you sit down there and it’s like constipation and you write a sentence and you hate the sentence and you check your email and you wonder if you ever had any talent after all?” And King answered with a no, explaining that spontaneous life events pop up but he still tries to get those six pages in.

That exchange made me reflect on my own writing habits. On a good day, I could get about 6 pages in. Then the thought occurred to me: If Stephen King could do that, then I could do it too. It’s possible, and I was going to do it. I already had a novel planned with its major and minor events, and I decided it’d allow me the perfect opportunity to try to follow that standard of writing.

I had a week to myself with no other distractions in my cabin home, and I had 10 days to see what I could do. Much to my own surprise, I committed to the six pages. In fact, my total page count was 75, and my total word count was 20,817 words. The only downside is that there are some parts that will need more revising before sending out to beta readers, but as far as progress goes, I’d say it worked out fairly well.

This year I’m going to see if I can do it again except instead of a week, I’ll be using the month of July. I have a small 4 day vacation one weekend, but otherwise I’ll be writing every day. I’ll be working on the same book, seeing as I haven’t finished it yet, so my goal first and foremost is to finish that book. With my other two books that I’ve written, it’s taken me years to finish them with agonizingly clear shifts in skill level ridden throughout that I’ll have to rewrite completely to maintain a consistent voice. I refuse to fall into that happenstance again, so therefore, my second goal is to write six pages a day. That way, I’ll be able to finish the book itself within the time frame I have set.

At the end of July, I’ll post an update where I explain my experiences with what I’m going to call the King challenge. See you then!