As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.
If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.
How long does it take you to write a book?—What about your first published novel?
From beginning to plot the story idea to the first draft’s The End, Just Breathe took roughly two months. How is such a thing possible, you ask? My health was such that I was often (and still am) plagued with migraines, insomnia, and anxiety, so I was unable to work. Because of that, my mother was generous enough to look after my son during the workdays my husband couldn’t be there to help me. That left me with a solid four hours, spread out over the course of the day and night after my son went to bed to write.
To be honest, I was so focused on trying to put so much down in fear of losing my flow or falling away from my heroine’s true point of view, that I wouldn’t allow myself to do much of anything that wasn’t related to it in some way. So I wouldn’t recommend this single-minded focus to anyone that wants to finish their manuscript. Why? Burnout is a real thing and you will drive yourself into creative exhaustion.
And, I promise you, all that self-doubt is unfounded. The story is there whether you write furiously for several hours a day or only one.
That being said, for those of you with a day job, if you can devote yourself to one thousand words to your manuscript per day, you could finish writing a 50k word book (that’s the standard NANOWRIMO length) in under two months.
And I can tell you from all seven novels I’ve written, that when you plot first, you already know the story and what comes next. So it wouldn’t be difficult to transcribe the journey of your hero from spot A to B in one writing session and be ready for C to D the following day. By knowing the story first, I have dropped two or three thousand words in an hour without difficulty on many occasions.
As for my most recent manuscript, I took roughly five days to plot it out, and then wrote in the mornings (when I was well enough to write, of course) when my son began fifth grade in August. I took the evenings and weekends off to recharge and still managed to reach The End … for now before the beginning of October.
So the next time you dream up a book to write, don’t think about the daunting task of writing so many words. Develop what happens first, then write it in small sections.
For instance, using Just Breathe as reference, the first chapter was divided into three scenes. First, the heroine and her best friend were introduced in the library. The second was a brief trip down memory lane. And finally, the next scene picks up after they leave a restaurant and our heroine sees the hero for the first time. Each scene was roughly one thousand words, written separately.
Since I edited my books, this process took about twice as long as the actual writing. With each pass, I went from fixing big errors like plot holes, and continued passing through, addressing smaller issues each time, right down to the grammar, until I felt like everything was right.
Somewhere along this line, I worked on book cover creation, sharing on social media, and generally preparing for the book’s launch. Once all of that is finished, it’s basically just a matter of scheduling the date of its publication. If you’re publishing traditionally, this process may take far longer, but just remember: nothing is impossible.
Coming up, I’ll discuss the differences between uniqueness in a story and how I account for my ideal readers’ preferences.
Until next time,
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