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Dear Sandy,

My name is Blaine, I'm 20 from California (USA), I've written 9 short stories varying from 3-25 pages, but now I would like to try the task of a 70,000 word novel. Generally, how do authors approach this task? I've heard by many experts in the field that just sitting and writing "winging it" will not really lead to a good coherent story.


Dear Blaine,

Sorry about the delay, but I have been traveling from Morocco to Australia.

My response is quite simple - if you want to be a writer, don't take any notice of experts! Each writer is different as is each novel. In general, most of the writers I know let an idea sit around in their head for a few weeks. The first actual writing is often sketching out characters and a very rough possible synopsis.  Then it is a matter of writing every day. A page a day is a novel in a year and if you can do say 2 to 3 thousand words a day you will be hitting about the right mark.

I let the story drive me, rather than the other way around.  Hence some books take a couple of years to write while others have taken as little as 34 days.

Simply writing is not simple. It is hard to get into the head-space where the writing flows without you intruding and censoring or correcting... but it does get easier the more often you allow yourself to just write.

An average novel is 100,000 words and when the writing is flowing it should be a huge pleasure to sit down each day to do the work.  Enjoy!



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Sandy McCutcheon


Author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a memoir and children's fiction.I can work with people on the process of writing, what to expect and ask for from an editor. How to work with the publisher`s marketing and publicity people. And how to survive book launches and publicity tours!


Published author of 22 plays, 12 bestselling thrillers, a young adult and three non-fiction titles. Visit his Moroccan blog at for a look at his blogging work.

St Andrews, Helsinki University and other institutions. Adult Educator of the Year Award, Australia

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