2012 was a very productive year. I published two full length novels, a short story, and a novella. Add to that, the four novels I have in process on my laptop and someone could get the impression that I write every time I get a spare moment.
That is not the case. My first novel probably took me four years to polish and publish. The second one was easier, but I had a portion of that one written before I published the first book. I also had a portion of my new novella written – it took me three weeks to tighten it up and proof it.
The lesson for me is this: It’s not about writing a novel from start to finish. It’s about writing down all of those little ideas until I have enough to complete a story. I write complete scenes, and I don’t always know where the characters or story are going next. I write until I’m stuck and then I put it away for a few hours, days, or weeks until I get inspired again.
In the meantime, I might open another story I’ve been working on and write a little on that. I might even start a new one if I’m so inclined.
When I feel like I’ve finally written everything I want to on one story, that’s when I start to really tighten up my novel and pay attention to word usage, pacing, grammar, punctuation, and all of the other technical things. If I bog myself down in those things before the story is finished, I just end up frustrated. Once I enter the editing phase, the other things I’m working on are ignored so I can focus on completing the one that’s done.
My eventual goal is to finish all of the manuscripts that I have started. If I don’t stop starting new ones, I’m going to be at this for the next six years and that doesn’t sound so bad to me today.