Monday, March 11, 2013

How Long Should It Take to Write a Novel?

By Julie Daines

I've seen a lot of blog posts recently with writers complaining about how hard it is to find time to write, or how they've been working on the same story for YEARS and just can't quite get it right.

Here are my thoughts on that subject:

EVERY writer struggles with those same problems.


SUCCESSFUL writers spend less time complaining about it, and instead, learn how to FIX IT.

The reality is that if you are serious about getting published and being successful as an author, you have to figure out what areas you struggle with, and fix them.

When an agent or editor calls, interested in your manuscript, you can bet they will be asking some probing questions. "How long did it take you to write this story?" "What else are you working on?" "Do you have other manuscripts completed?" They don't want authors that can't get the writing done.

Take a step back and look at your writing life through an objective lens. What is it that's holding you back? And how can you fix it?

No time to write? Find some. Get up earlier. Set aside a little chunk of time everyday, and, as Martine Leavitt would say, chip away, chip away, chip away. Make that time count.

Bogged down trying to get your story just right? Find a good critique group--and LISTEN to what they say. Move on. Maybe that story just doesn't work and it's time for something new. Set rules about how much time you can spend editing each day--maybe only allow yourself to re-read the one page previous to where you left off. Five minutes tops.

Plot going nowhere? Try pantsing. Try outlining.

Embarrassed by a hideous first draft? Welcome to the world of writing. That's why I prefer the term rough draft.

Discouraged by negative feedback or a lot of critique from your writers group? Step away. Let their comments percolate. They're not trying to be hurtful, they're trying to help your story. EVERY writer--no matter how good--can still improve. If you need warm fuzzies, ask your spouse to read it and have them tell you only the things they liked.

My point is, to be successful in this business, you have to be able to get the manuscripts written. Written, polished, and ready to go.

Figure out what's holding you back, and FIX IT.

DON'T compare yourself to other authors, you aren't them. Experiment, learn, and find out what works for you.

1 comment:

Erin Shakespear said...

Great post, Julie. It was an excellent kick in the pants. :)