In 1987, motivated by anxiety over his inability to produce a followup novel to his earlier sucesses, Ishiguru made a deal with his wife Lorna: he would write every day from 9h-2230h, with brief meal-breaks, 6 days a week: four weeks later, he finished Remains of the Day.
They called it "The Crash" and Ishiguru describes the weird state of altered consciousness he entered through such an intense work schedule. I've written novels in six weeks and others that took five years, and each one was unique and difficult and exhilarating. What really resonated, though, was how he had to push past worry about internal consistency in the book and niggling details and let his subconscious take over: in some ways, I think the process of writing a book is really the process of hunting for this state:
This, fundamentally, was how The Remains of the Day was written. Throughout the Crash, I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I'd established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.
By the third day, Lorna observed during my evening break that I was behaving oddly. On my first Sunday off I ventured outdoors, on to Sydenham high street, and persistently giggled – so Lorna told me – at the fact that the street was built on a slope, so that people coming down it were stumbling over themselves, while those going up were panting and staggering effortfully. Lorna was concerned I had another three weeks of this to go, but I explained I was very well, and that the first week had been a success.
I kept it up for the four weeks, and at the end of it I had more or less the entire novel down: though of course a lot more time would be required to write it all up properly, the vital imaginative breakthroughs had all come during the Crash.
Kazuo Ishiguro: how I wrote The Remains of the Day in four weeks [Kazuo Ishiguro/The Guardian]