I did it! I finished romance #6. I met my deadline. Time to toast myself and celebrate. This was the romance I thought might never end. I kept thinking of new scenes to add to it, so it grew from 63,000–what I expected–to 73,000, which should make my editor happy. He wanted me to make my books longer–if I wanted to. I didn’t think I did, but this book disagreed with me.
I’m not suggesting that you can write a sprawling epic. Every editor/publishing house has specific lengths they accept, and if you go too far under or over those, your book will be a hard sell. But I knew my editor wanted 70,000 words even though my contract was only for 60,000. Those extra 10,000 words take longer to write, so if you have a deadline, it’s wise to write a little faster. Which leads me to a little kernel of thought that I’ve rolled around in my head for most of this week.
I recently read a blog post that implied if writers wrote more than one book a year, they weren’t serious writers. I guess we don’t sweat enough, suffer long enough to produce good books. I used to write one book a year when I had kids and my husband worked second trick, and there was ALWAYS someone underfoot, needing to do this, go there. The kids are grown now. I have more time. And now, I write three books a year and squeeze in some short fiction, too. Remember, I’m talking about 60,000 to 70,000 word books. The good news–I’ve been at it long enough, (and that makes a difference), that I actually think my writing’s BETTER when I write faster to meet a deadline. I don’t ramble around as much. Now, I aim for 10 pages a day, every weekday. That gives me plenty of time to plot a book before I start it, rewrite as I go (essential for me, even though it messes up other writers), give it to my critique partners, and then do a serious rewrite when I get back their comments.
This sounds good on paper. It hardly ever works that smoothly. I lose writing days when people come to stay and visit with us, when I get sick and can’t function, when the sky’s blue and I HAVE to play hooky, or I get a chance to go out for lunch. But regardless of what happens, I have to meet my deadline. And that pressure keeps the book in the back of my mind. Writing faster also makes me more conscious of pacing, how the book’s moving. I can FEEL it.
I’ve read novels by some of my favorite writers where I can almost tell they wrote TOO fast, that they were rushed and HAD to get a book done. Things get lost in the shuffle–like characterization, telling details, description. But Elizabeth George–yes, my goddess of writing–wrote her first book A GREAT DELIVERANCE–(which I consider flawless)–in three-and-a-half weeks. I’m guessing it had lived in her mind for so long, it gushed out. But, in truth, there’s no perfect time schedule to write a book. It’s according to how complicated the story is and if the story flows or fights you. Some books come to you almost whole and you have to write fast to keep up with them. Others, well, there’s a push-and-pull that takes longer. One book a year or three books a year can both be good. Find your own rhythm. Do what works for you.
Any thoughts on the subject?
I found this link from Elizabeth George on writing. Lots of good advice: http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/faq_writing.htm
And for you pantsers out there, I found an article on Linda Howard about how she writes: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/news/20130201/author-linda-howard-reflects-on-prolific-30-year-career
We have a solar eclipse this Sunday (we can’t see it in the U.S.). I hope the planets inspire you. Happy writing!
My webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
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