The “Write A Book With Me” Rules

Here is the tiny list of “official” rules for playing “Write A Book With Me.”

  • You can work on any project you have going at any stage of completion.
  • You shoot for a minimum of 250 words a day, five days a week.
  • You do NOT flog yourself to catch up on missed words for days you did not write. You NEVER owe more than 250 words in a day, no matter if you missed a full week or a full month of writing.
  • You acknowledge that all this has to be is fun—it isn’t work, a competition, or a form of self-flagellation—and if knocking out your words at this pace stops being fun, you walk away with no guilt.
  • Your aim is to finish your book. What you do with it after that is up to you.

NOTE: You can join in at any time, and you can start anywhere in any project you have going or want to begin. I’ll work on whatever book (or course) I’m writing at the time.


BEGINNER: You can do the minimum words for as many days a week as I work (generally five). At 250 words per night, you’ll finish the first draft of a 100K novel (longish) in 400 working days. You’ll finish the first draft of a 60,000-word novel in 240 working days.

INTERMEDIATE: You can pace meβ€”get my word count from the blog every day and match that every day you work—and work as many days as I work. You’ll finish your first draft pretty quickly.

ADVANCED: You can pick your own wordcount (this is for folks on tighter deadlines with bigger wordcounts who still want to do this, as well as for folks who only want to commit to 100 words a day, or 50, or 25), and just sign in as often as you like to report your progress.

This is a low-pressure gig: The idea, especially if you’re a beginner, is just for you to get the feel of writing a book by doing small amounts consistently. I finish novels, so I’m a good pace rabbit, and if you commit to 250 words a day, you’ll see pages adding up without insane high-pressure goals, and realize you can do this.

You can do this.

Keeping In Touch

To keep up with wordcounts or to have the latest post available, subscript to the Write A Book With Me Feed

Or just bookmark the Write A Book With Me category, and check in on the latest.

Where To Post Your Progress

Either way, post your progress to the most current post in the WABWM thread, and we’ll cheer you on, or commiserate, or offer encouragement.

Comments On the Rules Page Are Closed

It’s too hard for me to keep up with so many open threads. So use the link above to find the most current WABWM post, and add your comment there.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to sign up to play. Just start playing.


124 responses to “The “Write A Book With Me” Rules”

  1. Roo Avatar

    I think I have a question kind of like Steve’s. What if you get to your word count for the day (after falling short for days, yay) and then you realize your goal was really to finish a whole section, instead, and you try, and then you get stuck again?
    Then what?

    1. Holly Avatar

      Then you stop doing that.

      If you fall short for days, so what? You wrote, you got something. Don’t get fixated on the numbers. They matter in as much as you can use them to see yourself progressing. At the point where they become stressful, you’re working against yourself.

      Unless you are writing a contracted book and you are behind on your deadline, NEVER play catch-up with words you didn’t get the day before. Create situations for yourself in which you can succeed, not situations in which you can fail.

  2. SteveG Avatar

    Holly: I have a question–what stage is the 250 words per day in when you’re done? Is it first draft stage (just moving the story along as best you can but not getting it to a clean, publishable form)? Or is it cleaner than that? My goal is to just get to my word count. I’m certainly also trying to develop characters and move the story, but I figure the next run through will be when I do the real work of revision.

    1. Holly Avatar

      When you’re writing first draft, all you’re thinking about is getting a version of the story down on paper. You’re NOT thinking about publication. (If you are, you’ll screw yourself up second-guessing what you’re writing.)

      Just get your words, and get your story in rough form (however rough pure first draft is for you).

  3. ceecee Avatar

    1K for Tues & Weds combined. Fun factor–got surprised by a dream Protag had that included both Lillian Gish and Brad Pitt. Gotta love that Muse.

  4. Raydeen Graffam Avatar

    Thanks for doing this Holly… kind a year round Nano with less stress and more push πŸ™‚ *gentle* pushing…

  5. ceecee Avatar

    990 words today. The 250 goal is great because once I’m past 250, I’m in the zone. That makes it much easier to just keep on writing. Nice.

  6. Marli Avatar

    Thanks for this opportunity. I’ve had my novel WIP going for far too long and I just haven’t been able to finish it. I’m rather embarrassed by the fact that I have only a few more chapters to go, yet I stall. Perhaps WABWM is just what I need. Again, thank you.
    Marli πŸ™‚

    1. Roo Avatar

      I think the closer you get to the end, the slower you go. Some sort of reverse physics or something.
      *gives thumbs-up*

  7. Steph O Avatar

    I am meant to be doing a novel writing month at the moment anyway… It isn’t going so well… I think I shall join up so that at least if I fail the novel writing month, I can still get some words down, and still feel like I have accomplished something in this.
    I will aim for half of my novel month word count… Just so there is a little less pressure… So… 25k by the end of the month…

  8. SteveG Avatar

    One book that helped me a lot during the first draft process was “No Plot? No Problem” by Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month. Great suggestions on how to just write rather than get all wrapped up in whether or not what I am writing is going in the right direction.

    As far as inspiration, a couple of quotes from David Milch, creator of Deadwood (check him out on YouTube):

    “We do not think our way to right action. We act our way to right thinking.” That’s why Holly’s challenge is so powerful.

    “Ego is the enemy of imagination.” I have to learn to get out of the way of my story.

    “So what I do is I start writing. If I think about my writing before I start to write, what I’m really doing is justifying not writing.” It is the doing that makes me better; in the end, I am the only person who writes like me.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Good philosophy.

  9. Sylvielisea Avatar

    I had 594 from last week, to which I just added 199 today.
    I’m trying an organized plot approach for the first time, let’s see if I do any better…

  10. Cathy Avatar

    It is so scary to commit. Failing in your own private room, without anyone knowing is one thing, but commiting to a word count, even to people I don’t know is like walking onto a stage; I will know that someone will now know. I was always afraid that I had the sensibility of a writing but not the actual talent – or maybe just not the drive. Only one way to find out I guess. Let’s Go.

  11. Y McColl Avatar
    Y McColl

    Well, I only got in about 200 words yesterday. The scraping the start and re working it took more then I expected. I will be having twice as much fun with it today.

    1. megan Avatar

      yep that scrapping noise must be getting louder as it goes on all over the world. I just decided that last night on the 20k words I hadnt touched for 2.5 years. Now i see why I let it sit. Still like the basics and the characters but a whole new plot games is begining.

      1. Y McColl Avatar
        Y McColl

        I spent about 2hrs last night just looking at my computer screen trying to blend things together. It’s like trying to get water from the dessert, you know it’s there somewhere you just have to find the right place to look!!! And today I hit water, so far I have been able to add 150 more words to it and tonight I will be adding more……:)

  12. ceecee Avatar

    Got in 1k this morning–basically stocking up to carry me over the Fourth weekend.
    Everybody celebrate!

  13. ceecee Avatar

    569 on Thurs. Fun factor–placed a media bite of music from 1920 into written scene, got to pitch a fit via POV character.

  14. Y McColl Avatar
    Y McColl

    Scraped the beginning of my book last night and restarted it, I was able to get about 340 words out. I am having fun, this is my first kick at writing a book. Thanks again.

  15. Patricia Babbitt Avatar

    Wrote another chapter today in long hand. It’s rough but the ideas are awesome. Will have a word count when I type it up, but I’m sure it’s way over 250. It’s taking off. I started chapter three as the third braid. It’s a braided book. I’m getting excited about it now and really need to start (re-)outlining now as it’s changed from my original, but in a good way. I’m mostly having fun with it right now.

  16. Pam Tanzey Avatar
    Pam Tanzey

    Between a couple hundred words last night and tonight’s word count I have written 1,095 woohoo!

  17. ceecee Avatar

    Word count for today–619. Fun factor–I got to ask if someone was going to finish the fish stew, in Italian. Tomorrow: backstage at the Ziegfeld Follies circa 1915.

  18. Ramble Avatar

    I have a goal of finishing my novel, and this sounds like a good booster pack to getting writing. Count me in, too!

  19. Red_dot Avatar

    1020 words today, now wondering why I came up with this crazy idea. Work is real slow, been slow, continues to be slow, so I decided to write a book. Taking the holiday off to go over what I have wrote. 9,800 words so far, CH1, Part of CH2, CH3, working on CH4 and wrote end to book. From looking back, it doesn’t look good. Not giving up. Starting again on Monday.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Don’t panic, and don’t stress. Any number of words, done regularly, will get you to the finish line.

  20. Patricia Babbitt Avatar

    750 words today so far.

  21. Patricia Babbitt Avatar

    I am writing a novel, and this sounds very cool. I’m in.

  22. ceecee Avatar

    Holly–You rock! As usual. Been losing momentum on WIP so the focus on fun will be a nice “Lighten Up, Stinky” reminder for me. I’ll be starting today, 250 words min. and Anne Lamotte’s motto: Everyone gets to write a sh**y first draft.
    Thanks for setting this in motion!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Bird by Bird, right? I liked that one.

  23. Anambika Avatar

    Hi Holly πŸ™‚

    My word count is 1138, in 3-1/2 hours. But the most satisfying aspect was … I cried when I wrote them. Oh! God! to conceive, to conceive, to conceive, and to bring forth,The power to create is incredible. I wish I were a woman πŸ˜‰ to be a mother. but I am perfectly happy to be a man and a writer though πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  24. jennifer blanchard Avatar

    Hey all,

    Just wanted to share three things with you:

    1) This awesome quote: “Don’t get it right, get it written,”–James Thurber. This is my new writing mantra!

    2) If you need even more advice and motivation to get you book written, visit my blog which is all about helping writers who struggle to get started writing.

    3) I am SO in on writing a novel with you, Holly. I’m blogging about it today and I plan to start my word count on Monday July 6, as well.

    1. Sandy Jensen Avatar

      I love that quote-thank you! My current favorite is “Courage is more important than talent.”
      I’m running with you!

    2. Jacklyn Craft Avatar

      I absolutely love that mantra.


  25. Mackenzie Avatar

    Thank so much, Holly. I’ve been struggling to write my book. I love writing, but I find it hard to write. Lately, I’ve been getting really close to the actual plot in the book and I realize that once I get there, it’ll probably be easy to write, but I can’t seem to get there. I’ve been having a major writers block. Right now, I’m away, so I won’t be able to start now, but I will start on the fourth.


    1. Holly Avatar

      When you get started, just remember that ANY words are good words. Allow your first draft to suck. And allow yourself to accept small word counts as accomplishments instead of failures.

      It’s easy to look at someone doing 3000 words a day and think “I’ll never be able to do this.” Or to look at writers who write a million words a year (something I’ve never managed) and think, “Why even try?”

      In the end, it’s about creating the story you want to tell, though, and to do that, you have to realize that the writer doing a million words a year isn’t writing your story. If your story is ever going to exist, it will do so only when you allow yourself to get there by your road, not someone else’s.

  26. vashtan Avatar

    Great idea, I’m signing up πŸ™‚

  27. Kathryn Avatar

    Thanks, Holly; this is a great idea! I’ve been trying (and failing) to get motivated and finish my book. I’ve planned it, written character essays, done lots of background reading and jotted down a ton of notes. Now all I need to do is *write* the thing!

    I hope that keeping in touch with other writers will help me stay focused on the job in hand. I love this story, and I really want to tell it. It’s just the actual writing that’s hard… :-s

    As Thomas Mann once said, “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” I have that quote pinned up on my wall, along with Peter DeVries’, “I only write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired every morning, 9 a.m.”

    I need to get into a writing routine, and this may be just the thing to get me started. I’m internet-less for the next few days, but I’ll join in starting Monday, 6th July. See you there!

    1. Holly Avatar

      See you on the 6th. I’ll be cheering for you.