Saturday, May 23, 2009

On my group blog, If you give a Girl a Pen, Marj asked this question:

I have a really great idea for a book that I am attempting to write. I haven’t ever written a book before. I have written over forty pages, some of which I like and some I do not. For those of you that have written books how long does it take to write one, how many rewrites do you have to do, and when do you start sharing it and getting feed back? Thanks.

So I thought I'd blog about it.

My first book, Legend of the Protectors, took me 3 weeks to write and two years to edit, and has gone through the editing ringer about 80 times. For one reason, when I started, I had no clue as to what I was doing.

I have books I’ve started and stopped on because of life demands my attention, or the characters quits speaking to me, or research is in needed. But I keep them at the ready, to jump on whenever inspiration hits. Some of these are at 50k words. :)

I work on multiple books at a time, so that can lengthen the process. Often, when I have one book as my focus, then I write it faster.

The genre also seems to play a role in the time frame. Legend is a Young Adult Urban Fantasy based on the Cherokee legend The Stone-Shield which, as I said, was pretty easy to write the story down. But one of WIPs, Surviving, has required many hours of research and the characters are far more complicated than seventeen year old Samantha. These types of books, for me, require more time.

It’s also relative to how many hours a day you write and your understanding of "the rules". I’m writing one now, that won’t need nearly as many edits. This comes with the practice of writing. One thing I do, at least once a week, is practice. Not writing on my WIP, but grab a picture or a song, something of inspiration, and write for at least five minutes. Just write. Don't think. Glimpse at the photo, listen to the song, and write the first thing that comes to mind. I feel, often we over-think everything, instead of letting the story tell us where it wants to go. This allows me to listen to my story as I write it. (And I have some pieces I plan on following through. Surviving got it's start this way.)

As far as sharing what you have, you want to be careful with whom you share a WIP. You don’t want someone who will do major overhauls before you’re finished writing it. If you share it, you need someone who will read it and see if it makes sense. With your first MS, you may want to hold out until it’s finished, then let a few beta readers make sure it all makes sense on the first round. When it does, then do line edits.

Piece of advice: Grow thick skin. I try to always be kind in my crits, but everyone is not. And if you want to be a writer, you must take crit. Decide now that you want to learn from others. Open yourself up.

But don't take every piece of advice you get! Know your story and characters well enough to know if something will work for them. In the beginning, I changed everything that was critiqued as being wrong in someone else's eyes, fixed everything they thought would be better, to the point that it no longer felt like my story. I then went back to the original document and started over.

And the last thing, BACK UP EVERYTHING! And keep old documents!

This has saved me many times. Date the changes and save them, then when you work the next day, you save it under that date. I didn't do this date save in the beginning and lost a lot of work one day. When told about the date save, I have done it, and am soooo thankful I have. I also, not only save to my computer, but have bought an external harddrive and save to it. Then, I email it to myself and put it in the folder for that story. Saves a lot of worry, because I can access it from anywhere. (Oh, save in doc. even if you have docx. becasue I just recently realized that I couldn't open my attachment at my sis in laws, because she has an older Word. So now I save in both.)

Good luck in your writing endeavors! And have fun!

1 comment:

beth said...

Wow--three weeks to write!!! That is speedy fast!

I think my first work took about a semester to write (I was in college at the time). I tend to edit faster (although I'm not sure of the effectiveness of my editing). In all, I'd say I take about 6 months to a year on a project, start to finish.