Write Your Romance in 150 Days!

By Senior Executive Editor Birgit Davis-Todd

I’ve always been a numbers person.  For me breaking down a task by the number of hours or days needed to complete it helps me achieve my goal successfully.  You can take the same approach when writing a book.  Most authors need around five months—or 150 days!—to write a 60,000 word story.  If you can do it in half that time you are darn lucky!

More numbers. 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday and across this nation people are celebrating in so many fun ways.

At Particpaction.com I came across the ParticipAction 150 Play List.  Anyone can sign on and take part in all kinds of creative exercises and hobbies.  Surely on that playlist would be writing a book, I thought. But it’s not. I searched in vain. Instead there are activities such as washing your car, axe-throwing or shoveling snow—three activities I prefer to avoid.  Really!!


So, I’m officially proposing that Activity #151 on the playlist should be Write a Romance for Harlequin.  And to keep it interesting write that book for us in 150 days.  Are you up to my challenge?


Join us here on the SYTYCW blog for the next five months as we cover some of the key components of writing a book. Look for advice on:

  • Writing a Great Opening Scene
  • Characterization
  • Conflict: Internal & External
  • Plotting
  • Sensuality
  • What Series are You?
  • Submission Tips

Let us know if you have a topic in mind and we’d be happy to address it.  The editors will also be here to answer your questions.

Join us on this exciting journey to writing a romance in 150 days.  And get ready to submit your manuscript to any of our twelve series beginning December 1, 2017.

Lastly, let’s toast Canada with best wishes for the 150th, eh!

I’d love your comments and feedback on the 150 Days Challenge!

Leave a Comment


  1. Marna R.

    This is an awesome idea, Birgit!
    I’m signing up (everyone hold me accountable)!
    I pledge to have a manuscript written, edited, revised and polished for submission to Harlequin by Dec 1st, 2017. 🙂

    Happy 150th Canada Day, everyone!

  2. Ruby Mae O'Dell

    I think this is a wonderful idea! I love it! My personal goal already was to have two manuscripts done by early December to pitch to Harlequin’s Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. God willing, I will have both completed and polished by December first. So count me in!

    • Ruby Mae O'Dell

      Thanks for the encouragement Ann! I think that’s a great idea! We can encourage each other to press toward our goals. May God Bless You Ann!

    • Birgit

      @Ruby I’m pleased to hear you are already working on a story for Love Inspired. They are actively looking for new writers and are particularly interested in Amish plotlines if that would be something that interests you. Good luck and keep going.

  3. Maurine

    Wow, Ruby, you’re inspiring! Two manuscripts! I was telling myself as I read this blog post, with everything going on in my life right now, I’m not sure I can write and polish a 60,000 word manuscript in five months. Maybe a 50,000 word one? But with your pledge to write two, you’ve inspired me to commit to writing one, so count me in, too. Maybe we can all encourage each other to keep at it.

    Happy 150th Canada Day!

    • Ruby Mae O'Dell

      Thanks Maurine! You made my day when I found that God used my double manuscript goal as a way to inspire you to write! I will keep you in my prayers and I love the idea of encouraging each other in our goals.
      I will be keeping updates posted via my twitter account and blog.( @RubyMaeODell and trulyinspiredbooks.wordpress.com) I hope you’ll follow me.
      God Bless you Maurine!

    • Birgit

      @Maurine Five months is about average for most manuscripts so do your best! In think sometimes it’s hard getting started to putting a time limit helps you keep working away. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

  4. Ann Malley

    I am SO in, Birgit! Thank you for being a numbers gal. And, yes, breaking things down helps, but so too does having a fearless leader taking point on the charge.

    My December 1st goal is 2 polished manuscripts. One for Harlequin Romance and another for Inspired Suspense.

    And Happy 150th, Canada! Home of the wilder side of my family tree. Yeehaw!

  5. Ruby Mae O'Dell

    I know this is a very possible goal, as is writing two in this time frame. A multitude of people complete a full manuscript in thirty days every year during NaNoWriMo. If you’re writing only one, that gives you the remaining four months to edit and polish. So writing two gives me three months. To complete a novel in a month takes a commitment of 2,000 words a day for thirty days, or 14,000 a week. With God’s help that ain’t nothing. With God all things are possible! So lets do this!
    May God bless everyone in their writing goals.

    • Birgit

      @Ruby I love that you are inspired by a higher being to work so hard. As you say, break it down by numbers and it’s not so daunting a task.

  6. What a great idea, Birgit! Just the inspiration I needed to kick start my writing. Count me in! I, too, promise to have a manuscript written, edited, revised and polished for submission the first of December 1917.

    • Birgit

      Hi Bev, Okay I’m holding you to your vow to write! Good luck and try to write a few pages every day. That will help you reach your target.

    • Birgit

      Hi Becca, This is a very open call for mss from writers. The key thing is to start and finish your story in 150 days–or five months. You can target any of our 12 series. Let’s call it an open blitz. We definitely want to see mss coming in as of December 1, 2017.

  7. Birgit

    Happy Canada Day to any Canucks visiting this space. And Happy July 4th to our American friends! I hope you find this special callout both inspiring and fun! I’ll be posting regularly and look forward to tackling your questions.


    • Birgit

      Hi Jennie & HS, Glad to hear you are interested in writing a story within five months. Keep all of us posted on your progress and look for future tips and suggestions. Best of luck!

  8. Jacqueline Burrows

    I have ideas for a few stories including the new Dare line. The others are Medical and Modern. One will definitely be written, edited, polished and ready to fly by 1st December! Good luck to everyone taking part in this.

  9. Chrissie

    Sounds like just what I need. No problem following SYTYCW because I have been for the past year or more. Thanks for allowing us all this fantastic opportunity. As for writing a book and having it ready, I can do that. Writing the story and polishing the story isn’t my problem, it’s finding the right line/editor who loves my work enough to get published by Harlequin. 🙂

  10. Kimber Li

    I’ll play. But, since the closing of Superromance and Nocturne, I really don’t think any of my stories will fit in at Harlequin. I can always still learn though!
    I still continue to read some of my favorites from this press though, Historicals and Special Ediction.

  11. Ruby Mae O'Dell

    Here’s one of my questions: What’s the best way to pitch an idea for a novel before it’s finished to be sure love inspired or love inspired suspense would even be interested in it? Or is there even a way to do that?

    • Kimber Li

      I understand the sentiment. Do editors understand the incredible amount of time and energy that goes into completing and polishing a novel for submission? It’s sickening to think of going through all that, only to learn the original idea was lame. I think this is where critique partners come in, but they can be hard to find.

    • Birgit

      @Ruby & Kimber Li
      While this won’t help you immediately keep an eye out for future blitzes focusing on LI where you can send a synopsis or the first chapter. You can also pitch the LI editors on Twitter and take the opportunity to ask questions. Finally try to attend a writer’s conference and sign up for an author/editor appointment.

  12. Mary Jane Campbell

    This sounds fun! And Happy Birthday Canada!! My niece-in-law is from Quebec and I love her great sense of humor. I have a friend who lives just outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake and they shoot a cannon off every year. Great memories! Can’t wait to read the articles. Thank you for doing this!

  13. Lynn Gale

    What a great idea, Birgit! I’ve been working on a romance manuscript and promise to have said manuscript written, edited, revised and polished for submission the first of December 2017.

    • Birgit

      @Allie It would be great if you write the entire book during the next 150 days. But if not do submit most of what you have written for consideration. If your ms shows promise we will definitely provide feedback.

  14. Sarah Bates

    I love a good writing challenge! I once wrote a 96,000 word length YA supernatural romance manuscript – start to finish and with the first round of editing done – in 11 days…Of course, I haven’t been able to top that since then, at least not quite to that extreme, but it was a very satisfying experience, and every time I sit down to write I hope I’ll be able to do it again, lol 🙂 Hope you all do very well on your projects, and good luck!

  15. Denyse Bridger

    This is a fabulous idea, and I have the perfect book underway – all set in Canada with Canadian hero and heroine, too! Now to get it done!! 🙂

  16. Vicki Freeman

    This is just what I needed to get the creative juices flowing again. I am all in. I will complete a novel to submit to the Love Inspired line by December 1st.

  17. reena singh

    I have been rejected by harlequin three times. But when I posted my book on an online site I have recieved rave reviews and a South korean publisher has approachedme. At present I am on my fifthe book on the online sit and not a day passes without a good comment.

    But it has been my dream to write for Harlequin. should I join the contest or not? Please guide

  18. andrew neilson

    i wrote a manuscript in 2 weeks but couldn’t get passed the 24hr dear john email from Harlequin. How do you get someone to actually look at your manuscript? i have the idea for the second book i want to write now.

  19. Rose Kaps

    Just found your page. What a great idea 150 day Book-A-Thron. I have a few books (four to be exact) already started. Although I am a bite late joining, I will have fun monitoring the progress as I write to my hearts content.