Craig-326- How To Write a 50,000 Word Novel In 19 Days

Craig note- My National November Novel Writing Month is OVER! Someone asked me, “How do you write so fast?”. (Enjoy!)

Do you “…feel the need for (writing) speed.”?

(Full disclosure, I am naturally warp speed as a writer. But, anyone can become faster and more efficient in their writing processs(es).)

Two years ago, I sought the biggest (free) challenge that I could find. I entered the National November Novel Writing Month.

(You can get it here. But, please don`t buy it. It will eventually be free again.) I wrote that book in 23 days. Is it perfect? No. But, be my guest if you can write something better in that time frame. I would love to read it, btw.)

This year I finished 50,147 words in 19 days. Really, I finished in 17 days, I took two days off to read my work.

(But, we will get to that.)

On November 1st, I had zippo. I went back through my archives and old writings. I found some old excerpts and the like. But, they got hacked to pieces during my 19 days of writing. They have little to no connect to what became the first draft of my second novel. 

Too, I am a busy dude. I work six days a week (more than a 70 hours) every single week. So, no, I don`t just sit at home writing all day. I wish!

(Dare to dream. Right?)

Writing Time

Placeholder Image

Monday To Friday

I wrote every week day morning for two hours. I punched out between 1,500-4,000 words every week day. I spent 60-90 minutes every evening rereading and making whatever I wrote readable.

(Notice, I said nothing about being perfect. I wrote ‘readable.’)

Saturday And Sunday

I work every Saturday, but my work day starts in the afternoon. So, I got up as I would for a normal early work day.

(That’s between 3:30 a.m.-4:00 a.m give or take.)

I wrote for about three to four hours. I punched out 4,000 words or so for three straight Saturdays. When I got back home, I spent 60-90 minutes re-reading and making my draft readable.

(Sundays, I give to my wife and other folks, but I did write as time allowed.)

The 30,000 Word Wall

You can read any number of articles on this subject. The ideas just stop coming to you at about 30,000 words.

I am a highly, highly, highly creative dude. But, I hit the 30,000 word wall, too. So, I took a day off, and I drank beer. And, I took a second day off, and I drank coffee.

(What? I want to pass my health check.)

I re-read my novel. This time I went “word mining.” I added words wherever I could add them. Now, I am not talking about just ‘any’ words. I limit my “word mining” to

1. New dialogues.
2. More nouns.
3. More adjectives.
4. New supplemental characters.

This process helped me think of new ideas, and it, generally, added 200-700 words to my novel every time I did it.

**I NEVER, ever, ever, ever add more adverbs.***

(It’s a running joke on this blog. I had an old English professor that despised adverbs with a passion. I put them into my writing just to make him use his red pen. lol)

The problem with adverbs is that if you DO magically get to a publishing point, any editor worth their salt is just going to cut them. But, they will likely only change your choice of adjective.

Your great character may “love, love, love his wife.” But, it’s going to cost you in the word count department if you spend hours adding adverbs to puff up a word count.

(Trust me, it stinks to slip under 50,000 words.) 

My main focus is writing a 50,000 word story. Again, you are just going to end up rewriting your entire novel if you spend 30 days focused on perfect words and sentences.

(Or worse, you will not reach your 50,000 word goal.)

Story Arcs And Pacing


I tend to write chapters in 2,000 word blocks. There is nothing magical about that. But, I know that if my scene hits it peak at about 1,200 words, the chapter is good.

(Of course, there are exceptions.)

I target 30,000 words to serve as the apex of my story. I spent a lot of time studying music. There is a mathematically Golden Ratio. Nearly every single great piece standard Western music hit a peak 2/3s of the way in to it. 

(I spent years analyzing J.S. Bach’s music. It’s uncanny how it happens.)

It does not mean at exactly word 30,000 you main character has to say something profound. But, if you are at word 43,000 and the big moment has not arrived; well, your pacing is likely going to annoy somebody quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Free Tools To Increase Your Writing-Editing Speed


I use several free online tools to increase my speed and readability. I want to spend 80% of my time writing not fixing some stupid comma or apostrophe. That`s why they make editors.

(AKA- The people who are not creative enough to actually write a book. I kid…a little. I love my editor.)

I use [`s ]to increase my typing speed. It`s also a running joke on this blog. I did it in my first novel, too. Literally, someone criticized me for thanks. 

(Did I mention some people have a lot of free time? (lol)

Free Grammar Check

This is a free basic check. It filters out the repeated words, highlights awkward phrases, and passive voice. Again, I am not looking to be published-ready. I just want my work as readable as possible for my Beta Readers. That`s it.

Pro Writing Aid

There is a paid upgrade service. But, the basic features of this website are fine. It’s annoying that they limit some checks to the first 500 words of your essay.

But, I just copy and paste back and forth into a Word file. And, I erase the checked section. It a nice opportunity to focus on smaller sections of my day’s work. 

Google Translate

There are other programs. But, this one is free and easy.

I copy and paste my writing into Google Translate. There is an audio reader function. It has a  word limit, but it’s easy to cut and paste sections. 

It is a quick way to pick off some forgotten ‘s’ or strange verb constructions. And, I find it helps me create better and more realistic dialogues for my characters.

The Hemingway App

I love this application. It`s free. You simply copy and paste your writing into it. The program highlights sections that are wordy or complex. I find it an excellent way to create clear writing.

Google Drive

There are several file-sharing programs one can use. But, I have found the word processing, sharing, and comment features of Google Drive helpful. It`s quick and easy to upload excerpts to social media. It keeps me going when my pals are expecting the next chapter.

(Motivation is important.)

Too, I can adjust who can do what to my writing (Read only, comment, or editing). It is an excellent way to get feedback from many, many, many readers while limiting criticism and editing only to a few trusted people in your writing circle.

Happy (Speedier) Writing!
Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”—Enid Bagnold


Craig-325 Writing- On Accomplishing Things

Craig note- My National November Novel Writing Month is OVER! I finished my second novel last night. So, I can get back to blogging. (Enjoy!)

November Novel challenge conquered!


Two years ago, I sought the biggest (free) challenge that I could find. I entered the National November Novel Writing Month.

(You can get it here. But, please don`t buy it. It will eventually be free again.)

This year I attempted the contest again. I am most pleased to report that the first draft of my second novel is finished. It is being read by several beta readers. Too, my personal editor will also take a crack it.

Actually, I went back and forth about entering the contest. The first time was easy. It was a bucket list thing after I turned 40. Of course, I eventually published it. And, some people bought it, and several thousand more people downloaded it for free.

(Everyone loves you when you are free. Actually, that’s not true. Some people hate you even then…lol. That’s a lot of free time, boys and girls.)

That was cool. But, anyone who writes anything of that length knows all that goes into it. One supposes when you are an established novelist, you know that people are going to read your work. And, too, you are going to make big money.

But, it takes a special sort of writer to simply produce work.


I will say this time. I do have opportunity to make a significant amount of money from my second book. I was a bit smarter this time. I wrote a lighter, more general genre, and relationship-based novel/novella. As such, there is a bigger consumer base for such works.

Money aside, the time away from this blog and my typical social media assault-like promotion gave me to time reevaluate things. If you have followed me on this blog or Twitter for any length of time, you know I put a lot of time and effort into it.

(It is my hobby.)

But, of course, other than being probably the most popular poster of free Japanese food pictures on the face of the earth, nothing particularly tangible has come of it for me. And, again, I am fine with that.


I have passed on opportunities to write articles and things for publications. I just don’t need that sort of pocket-money at this point in my life. Too, it was simply much more effective for me to push my own B/B+ level content out on social media alone.

(As I have written numerous times, you don’t get my best work for free. I’m kind; not stupid.)

But, people now know who I am. And, if people really, really, really need that much convincing that “Craig can write.” there is very, very, very little chance that I would write for them.

(I value respect as a writer above all else. I’d turn down any amount of money if I thought some publisher was disrespecting me.)

What does all that mean for this blog and my Twitter?

Nothing. I am still going to create content. And, I will still have an active presence on Twitter. But, it does mean when things like novel competitions or other writing ventures come up, I am not going to feel guilty.

Guilty about what?

I will not feel guilty about not updating my blog five times a week or posting a new Japanese food picture on Twitter. I enjoyed writing over the last 19 days. And, it reminded me that above all the possibilities that exist for fame, fortune, and all the rest in the end…

I just want to write.

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups. I ask, in my writing, ‘What is real?’ Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms.”- Philip K. Dick

Craig-324 Japanese Food- Okinawan-Style Bar

Craig note- Novel-writing continues! But, I wanted to post some new content! (Enjoy!)

So, I went to an Okinawan-style bar a few weeks ago! Good times!

Okinawan Soba


Fried Pork With Vegetables


Goya Champuru


Deep Fried Corn


Spam Rice Ball




Suggested Bonus Reading

Craig-248 Food- On Ramen


Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“You can be drinking the wine today, but picking the grapes tomorrow.”- Jonathan Tucker

Craig-323 Writing- On Murky Crystal Balls

Craig note- I`m taking a break from the novel-writing today. (Enjoy!)

So, I entered the month-long November Novel writing contest. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s Day 8. I have written 75,000. Of those words, I have kept about 20,000.


The novel is fine. But, it’s just not greater than the sum total of its parts. I have been sharing my progress with several beta readers. It’s been well-received. But, there was some criticism for a lack of depth in one of the female characters.

And, that criticism is well-deserved.

‘Mary’ is comprised of spare parts from other characters. I presented her as a “checklist”-like reveal in the opening chapter. That might have worked. But, the male character`s story was told much more eloquently.

Of course, as a man, it is easier to relate to male characters. But, I`ve felt like I have held back on writing certain aspects of the female characters in this novel. Partly, I base a lot of my writing on real life events.

This blog, too.

The stories you read about life in Japan are very, very, very real. I do change names and certain events are dramatized. I have no intention of personal attacks on anybody. But, I think, there is something to be learned from other people`s mistakes.


People tend to enjoy my writing (and stories in real life).

I am unafraid to tell you stories of the moments when I have failed in my life. I could spend this post telling you how wonderful my novel is going on Day 8.

But, that would be a lie.

And, I could update this blog daily with my triumphs. But, that, too, would be a lie. There is a TON of that “I am the greatest thing since sliced-bread.”-type of social media all over the internet.

If that is your thing, please go check that stuff out.

(For the record, I win more than most foreigners in Japan to be sure.)

That`s not to say I am a negative person. In fact, I pride myself on being quite the opposite. But, over the years, I have met a fair number of people who believe that everything in their lives should just be perfect all the time.

Even I think that, from time to time…(lol)

Last night, I was talking to my wife. I mentioned how I was growing tired of my job. This year has been the longest year of teaching that I can remember. There have been several negative events at the company. And, that trouble has come right down on top of my head.

It`s like suddenly my karma in Japan has changed from the “Midas touch” to the “Minus touch.” I have NO idea why that is.

Too, I was looking into the future. And, I saw a gloomy end. I lamented working so, so, so much. It is not the number of hours that bothered me. This is Japan. People work a lot.

I accept that.

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't burry thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live.

My problem is that there is a very, very, very real chance that all my effort will still find me an old man in Japan with zippo. There just aren`t not enough hours in the day to catch that elusive brass ring.

Of course, I am not the only foreigner here (or Japanese person) to fall into that category. Japan (the world, too) is a tough, tough, tough place to live. And, it is an even harder place to really, really, really get ahead.

But, one must keep going, no matter how murky one`s crystal ball becomes from time to time.

Suggested Bonus Reading

Craig-242 Expat- On “Defying (Foreign) Gravity”

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“I have a motto on my bedroom wall: ‘Obstacles are what you see when you take your eye off the goal.’ Giving up is not my style. I just want to do something that’s worthwhile.”- Chris Burke

Craig-322 Japanese Food- 5 Pictures You Missed The First Time

Craig note- We are hard at work on our second novel! But, we do want to keep the blog up. So, we are showcasing Japanese food photos people might have missed the first time! (Enjoy!)

Crab Ramen


Koala-shaped Curry And Rice


Taco Rice


Fried Blowfish


Triple Rib Sandwich


Suggested Bonus Reading

Craig-260- Travel- 5 Posts To Save You Money On Food-Drink In Japan

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in the society; other persons will also be good.”- Bhumibol Adulyadej

Craig-321 Expat- On Dreams And Real Friends

Craig note- Some stuff from my archives! (Enjoy!)

On Dreams (2015)


I don’t know what gets into me sometimes.

I get in these moods when I think about doing something cool like writing a novel or even an opera. I have friends who do that very, very, very kind of thing.

And, I have over the past ten years in Japan been able to write quite a few things. Too, I guess, I have been able to get some music performed.

It just can’t be that hard to get a book published.

(It`s not hard at all.)

And, it certainly can’t be that hard to get more music played around the area.

People do it all the time. I am not talking about being famous or even getting rich. I just think I could accept being just a nursery school dancing monkey if I was doing other things in my life.

(Actually, that`s exactly what I ended up doing.)

Of course, as my wife reminded me, I said the same thing when I met her almost seven years ago.

I don’t think it is a matter of “I can’t.”

But, it’s more a question of “I don’t.”

(Really, “I won`t.)

And, now, with my schedule slowing down; at least during the week, this is; perhaps, an excellent chance make more effort in those areas.

(My schedule did not slow down. But, I made a full effort to “be more” in Japan (and in life).)

On Real Friends (2016)


I was talking to a great, great, great friend today, and she brought up a topic about how Facebook has changed the social dynamic of friendship in the world. Later, I was again thinking about this concept.

It started with a great friend being accused to some degree of stealing from his charity work. There is absolutely no truth to that. Personally, I`ve known that man for more than 30 years.

Yet, someone is making it their mission to spread such a lie.

(As expected, my great, great, great friend was completely exonerated.)

Then, I got to thinking about how some of my “friends” have really changed on Facebook. In fact, many of the friends I now talk to pretty regularly were not really in my social circles in college or high school.

I can`t say why that was (or now is).

I guess people change. Too, I`m pretty picky about my friends. If you aren`t a person that adds something positive to my life, well, I just don`t make a whole lot of effort. And, I prefer friends that have a lot of drive and those that pursue great things.

(Those people are harder and harder to find.)

To some degree, some of my closer high school friends just took different paths out of my little hometown.


As well, many, many, many of them stayed right in my hometown area. There is nothing wrong with that. But, a lot of my closer friends now tend to have more of a wider life experience (living abroad, life in Japan, etc).

It`s hard to talk about life here with others without a framework of reference. So, I guess, I don`t share much about my daily goings on with friends back home.

There is no doubt food pictures and travel photos dominate my Facebook wall.


To be sure, Facebook has even changed my family dynamic.

I know some of my family and I talk a lot. But, a lot of my family and I never talk to each other, or they write or talk to me only when they want something.

I get it.

But, boy, it makes me sad, that there is this schism that now exists between us.

Too, you get that de-friend group (on either end).

Actually, I never thought it would be necessary to de-friend anyone, especially since I live in Japan.

But, I was wrong.

In several cases, I was basically stalked by old “friends.” They were completely out of their ever-lovin` minds.

PAGES and PAGES of e-mails written about depression, mental issues, loneliness, despair, suicide, etc.

All this from people who I had not spoken a word to in more than TWENTY plus years.

(We were not THAT close in school.)

In the end, I think friendship comes down to communication and effort. Years ago people talked to each other.

They wrote letters.

They used phones for talking.

And, now we, have things like video chat, messaging, and Facebook walls.

When people use that stuff in a positive way, I think friendships can become stronger.

And, when they don`t, I think friendships can crumble and fall.

(Society, too.)

Of course, I cannot be certain, but I think a fair number of my “friends” are content to just be, well, friends.

At least, I hope so…

Suggest Bonus Reading

Craig-123 The Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag (6) How To Make (More) Social Friends As A Long-Term Foreigner In Japan

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”- Ann Landers

Craig-320 Travel Pictures- 5 Places To Go In Kansai!

Craig note- Travel in the Kansai area of Japan!  (Enjoy!)



Universal Studios Japan


Arima Onsen


Oji Zoo




Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“There’s so much to appreciate about my life every single day, and I make a big point of taking time to smell the roses and noticing how lucky I am. I never want to take that for granted.”- Josie Maran

Craig-319 ESL- On ESL Halloween In Japan

Craig note- Halloween in Japan!  (Enjoy!)

Halloween Costumes

(I`ve bought a few costumes over the years. Tons of parties to make a few bucks every year around Japan. But, people want you to wear a costume.)

Cow (2007)


Tigger (2010)


Mukku (2012)


Super Mario (2017)


Halloween Games

Knock The Ghost (Students swing the jack o` lantern into the pylons.)


Halloween Ping-Pong Game (Think Beer-Pong minus; sadly, the beer.)

halloween pingpong

Don`t Forget The Food!

Coffin Set


Open Slowly!


Let`s Eat!


Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.”- Erin Morgenstern


Craig-318 Japanese Food- 5 Picture-Filled Posts You Missed

Craig note- Some recent fun food posts!  (Enjoy!)

Craig-316 Japanese Food- Wedding Food In Japan


Craig-313 Travel- 6 Expensive Things To Eat In Japan


Craig-311 Japanese Food- Blowfish In 6 Pictures


Craig-305 Japan- 5 Yummy Chicken Dishes At Home


Craig-304 Japan- 5 Pictures of Real Home Cooking


Suggested Bonus Reading

Craig-310 Expat- On Finding One`s Mojo


Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!


“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.”- Guy Fieri

Craig-317 On Creating New Life Challenges

Craig note- The National November Novel Writing Month is coming up soon. I`m thinking about entering again. (Enjoy!)


Funny, there are not many challenges for me in Japan these days. That is not to say living in Japan is a piece of cake. But, I have worked very, very, very hard to make life here as simple as possible.


And, it is.

Too, the major tent poles in my life:  Money, job, and family are all going well.

Personally, my life is also going well. My social media efforts are working. And, generally, I enjoy getting up at 3:30 a.m. every morning to write. 


But, it all gets a little mundane from time to time.


Two years ago, I sought the biggest (free) challenge that I could find. I entered the National November Novel Writing Month.

And, to my surprise, I finished in 23 days. And, I published it to Amazon. Of course, people loved it. And, some people hated it. Truthfully, I planned absolutely nothing for that novel.

I just wanted 50,000 words.

And, I got them.

It`s a dark, dark, dark look at one fictional English teacher`s life. Certainly, it is not and was not written for/with everybody in mind.

(You can get it here. But, please don`t buy it. It will be free from next week for five days on Amazon.)

I published (warts and all) to simply get the book out there. Oddly, it helped me get a few extra English classes here, and I did a few lectures on writing. Too, it was a nice thing to put on my resume.

Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't burry thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake up and live.

Last year, I entered the contest. But, I did not finish. I thought my time was better spent writing posts for this blog and trying to build up my Twitter following. That was the right way to go.

This blog is more popular than ever. And, my Twitter is growing daily in both raw numbers and in influence. Still, I am considering entering the novel-writing contest again this year; albeit with a bit more planning.

I have spent this week kicking around a few novel ideas. And, I reached out to my private Facebook core to see what they were interested in reading about in my next book.

My great, great, great friend suggested science fiction. And, I would be up for that. But, the planning that writing in that genre takes would make 30 days a tough challenge.

Someone else suggested a detective/mystery story. I ran through a few outlines for novels with that theme in mind. One or two of the ideas would likely be possible in 30 days.

Later, I turned my attention to a novel theme loosely based on real life events. My outline got a bit more detailed with that one. In fact, I sketched out some early dialogues while writing yesterday.

That story would be finished in 30 days.

Of course, IF I spend the next month writing a novel, this blog will slow down. Honestly, I find creating posts for this blog rather enjoyable. So, I have gone back and forth as whether or not to engage a bigger writing challenge. 

I am unsure if it is not just as well to write my frequent blurbs right here. By chance, this weekend, I am free (for the most part). If I can get an acceptable outline put down, I will have to strongly consider entering the contest.

If I can`t, there is always next year.

Suggested Bonus Reading

Craig-215 More Life Tangents- Writing, Mental Toughness, And Hard Work

Grey, Grizzled, and Gaijin

Got a Question for the Grey, Grizzled, And Gaijin Mailbag? Send it to: @craighoffman11 on Twitter!

“Humans aren’t as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth. So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy. Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were ‘reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy.'”- Neil deGrasse Tyson