Wednesday, March 4, 2020

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

With my recent publications, I’ve received a few comments on how fast I seem to be writing. I want to correct the misunderstanding. I am not a fast writer. I wrote Wielder’s Prize ten years ago. An incomplete first draft took me four months to write. It was my first fiction writing project after a long break, and I reveled in the adventure. Around three quarters of the way through, I needed to outline the rest of the story to make sure I got all the threads coming together at the end. That took weeks of sitting in front of a whiteboard.

Then September came along and, for some stupid reason, I’d decided Wielder’s Prize wasn’t going to be good enough. I wanted to try my hand at NaNoWriMo, so I shelved the mostly-completed first draft and set my mind to outlining a new fantasy novel. While I wrote 50k in a month for NaNo, it still took me four months to finish the first draft. Over the next four years, off and on, I listened to too much advice and over edited it. This was the first book I queried. Then I temporarily shelved it and wrote the outline for book 2 and left that. Then the following year’s NaNo came along and I had an idea for a scifi novel, which I messed with for another two years. Even though I got a few agent requests, I’d convinced myself none of it was good enough. The year after that I wrote an urban fantasy with time travel, but only a messy first draft. I then stuck to novellas and short stories and got some of them published.

You can see where this is going. I burned myself out. If I’d believed in myself a little more, I would’ve kept going and given my books more of a chance when I was querying. But no, I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t going to see any of my novels in print. So I quit. Storytelling was still in my soul, so I turned to narrative game design.

Then my brother got sick. Really sick. Terminal. He wanted to collaborate on a scifi before he died. As if I could say no. And I’m deeply grateful to him for the opportunity. Because of the stress and agony surrounding his illness, I couldn’t finish the novel in time. But it brought me back to writing. Dave taught me that life is short. I had to stop being my greatest obstacle. I have all these books waiting for the world. It was time to get them out there.

So I started with Wielder’s Prize. That was three years ago. It feels like yesterday. And I was shocked how good that incomplete first draft was.

There’s more to this story, but I’ll say again, I’m not a fast writer. These last three years were spent writing and polishing the Wielder’s Storm trilogy, learning formatting, and the other ins and outs of self-publishing. I can say with confidence now that Wielder’s Prize is great. Wielder’s Curse is great. The final book in the series will also be great. My overnight “success” is not so overnight.

I hope that any aspiring writer who reads this is encouraged.

What are the things that hold you back? What is the true shape of your dreams?

Looking for Beta Readers
I'm currently looking for some beta readers for my books. I'm after someone with a deep understanding and love of fantasy and has a good eye for those little mistakes a writer can miss. Please let me know in the comments and/or shoot me an email.

This post was written for the IWSG. Every first Wednesday of the month the members post on their blogs about their writing insecurities or offer some encouragement to others. If you are new to the IWSG or want to learn more, then please go HERE.