How to Write a Novella in 13 Days with UltraBook

This month I had a situation that make me have to write a novella (shorter version of novel) in 13 days (don’t ask why, it’s a long story hehe). It’s in the same time where I have to start 2 new biz ventures, one is Salsabeela fashion line (and Salsabeela boutique launch!) and other is a new business line of NulisBuku.com. I almost think that it’s impossible to finish within 13 days (due to my busy-ness), but then I know: everything is possible. So I started that Mission I’m Possible.

Here’s what I did to finished the book:

  • I create outline. It’s always the first step. I need to get a novella finished in 13 days. I need to get there precisely, there’s no room for mistake or confusion. So in order to stay on track to my destination, I need a map. In writing, the map is the outline. It’s where you know how the story started, the conflicts and the resolution. You have to know how your story ends. And this outline has to be solid first, so you can’t change the fundamental afterwards. So, I spend time on the phone with my editor, polishing, discussing and giving arguments over several points in my outline.  When it’s looking good, I can start scheduling.
  • To write a 55 pages (A4) novella in 13 days, I need to write 4 pages a day. Religiously. On panic writing mode, I wrote 20 pages in the first 2 days. Which make a sense of relieve that I can continue writing with slower pace, because I still get plenty of time. Weird to say plenty of time when it’s actually 11 days left :))
  • Write. After all the plan, you must start writing. I get a big lesson from my best friend & inspiration, Mbak Alberthiene Endah @alberthieneE– she said, “Make a movie first in your head about what your character’s doing, then you write it.” That’s exactly what I did. I try to experience what the character’s been through first (maybe visiting a cafe to see the possible activities he can do there), and write according to what I ‘watch’ in the ‘movie’ in my head. Your characters already have the story, you as a writer just need to type it down :D
  • To write faster, I put some of my own stories & experiences inside the writing. I even managed to interview a person with similar personality with the novella’s character, just to see how he’s going to react on some situation and that has been very useful for the writing.
  • Write with your best energy. Where you can focus 100% to your writing. For me, it means writing early in the morning before I start the day. I write while sipping tea, snacking, and classical music playing to stimulate my brain. That way, I can write more effectively than writing when I’m tired at night. Figure your best writing time and write regularly at those times.
  • Write everywhere. It’s important to be able to write mobile, because sometimes I have early morning meeting or events that I have to attend and coming home late at night where I’m already tired and slept right away. So, between the traffic, waiting people for a meeting, you can always write.For that, I need a gadget that is light and thinner than laptop (so it’s not too heavy to carry around), have keyboard (because I can’t write in tablets), have long battery hours (because sometimes it’s hard to find place to plug & charge), easier & fast access to the internet and looking stylish to carry around.

    Lucky, now Intel has new line of products called Ultrabook™. It’s a super slim laptop, can be put to sleep and back on each in 2 seconds, with up to 7-hours battery life, all without comprimising its computing power. It’s been on my wish list since last year, and I’m very grateful that now I have my (limited edition design one) Intel Ultrabook™ to help me with my projects. If you interested to know more about Ultrabook™ you can check here or you can check specs & shop Ultrabook™ here.

  • Because I write everywhere and I took some notes and inspiration using my smartphone too, I use some tools. I use InSync in my Ultrabook™ to sync my writing document in Google Docs. So if suddenly I want to write using my friend’s gadget, I can do that and continue writing because the document is synchronized. I also use EverNote for note taking in smartphones. And Mind Map if I need to generate ideas.
  • Read a lot. In the writing process, I read books with similar topic that I write in the novella. A good book can inspire you to write more.
  • Edit. Only when you finish writing, that you can start editing. Don’t do it during the writing process. So get your hands off that backspace key. Turned out I can finished my novella in 11 days :D So I have 2 days to edit. I send to my bestfriend & personal editor @emiralda. I’m enjoying the day while Em edit the first draft. Then after she finished, I am recharged and revised all needed.
  • It’s a wrap. Day 13. Sending my novella. Stop being a perfectionist and cut the worry. You have tried your best and it’s time to close your draft and publish it into a book for the world to read.

I kept a writing journal when I write this novella, check it on my Tumblr >> project13

My novella will be a duet book and will be published by Gagas Media. Insha Allah will be published next month. Follow me on twitter @salsabeelaand my Facebook for updates about my latest book.

At this point, I’m already starting a new writing project. How about you? Will you finish writing a book this month?




A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO Storial.co & NulisBuku.com. Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.


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