How to Write a Book in Three Days: Lessons from Michael Moorcock

How to Write a Book in Three Days: Lessons from Michael Moorcock | Wet Asphalt 

Excellent article by Michael Moorcock about writing a book in three days. I’ve done writing binges like this from time to time, and while it really works to get the juices flowing, I’ve never been able to write fast enough to where I could finish in three days.

Moorcock has some really valuable advice and it’s well worth a read if you’re planning something like this. One thing he stresses from the start is to be prepared BEFORE you start. It makes sense, but it is easy to forget. Writing nonstop definitely makes that 3-day deadline a lot easier. And, that’s only the first bit of advice he offers. I learned some things write off that I didn’t think of like The Formula and getting fantastical images. I won’t spoil your reading of the article, though.

Below is something of a profile of Moorcock to show that he started where we all did, and how he got to where he is writing-wise.

In the early days of Michael Moorcock’s 50-plus-years career, when he was living paycheck-to-paycheck, he wrote a whole slew of action-adventure sword-and-sorcery novels very, very quickly, including his most famous books about the tortured anti-hero Elric. In 1992, he published a collection of interviews conducted by Colin Greenland called Michael Moorcock: Death is No Obstacle, in which he discusses his writing method. In the first chapter, “Six Days to Save the World”, he says those early novels were written in about “three to ten days” each, and outlines exactly how one accomplishes such fast writing.

This is not the best way to write every novel, or even most novels. Moorcock used it specifically to write sword-and-sorcery action-adventure, but I think it could be applied more-or-less to any kind of potboiler. Once Moorcock himself had perfected this method, he became bored with it and moved on, restlessly playing with one genre and style after another, and turning in some of his best work, including the literary fiction Mother London (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize) and the quasi-historical romance Gloriana. (Which took him six whole weeks to write!) The rest of Death is No Obstacle is about writing in these other forms.

Do read the whole article. It’s the start of a series and well worth any writer’s time.


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