So… I used to consider myself a “Turtle Writer.” And, my friends, it took me 8 years from when I started the first draft of my first book to when I published it. My second novel took me 4 years from start to publish.
For comparison, for my next release, Time’s Orphan, there will be 11 months between starting and publishing. And for my YA sci-fi launching in April, there were around 15 months from starting to when Whimsical Publishing acquired it.
And trust me, my two newest books are *way* better than my first two novels. (I still love my first two, but objectively, I’m a much better writer than I was 10 years ago, thank goodness.)
There are much faster writers than me out there, and much slower ones, but in any case, I halved my writing process time from Book 1 to Book 2, and by Book 8, I will have cut the time by 88%. One of my writing friends recently asked how I made that happen, so I thought I’d break it down here.
Why did my first two books take so long?
This answer’s pretty easy. First, I didn’t actually believe I would publish it. I thought it was unsavable, and I thought by writing it, I had accomplished my writing goals, so I shelved it.
In 2017, I picked it back up, but I was still lost. I revised and edited as best as I could, but I wasn’t until I found the writing community on twitter, that I even thought about getting critique partners and an editor. After getting that feedback, I ended up *heavily* revising the first half of the book.
And there so many stops and starts during that time. I would say it’s because life got busy, which is true, but it’s also because I hadn’t found a rhythm. And more importantly, I still was unsure of my commitment to writing. I still thought Odriel’s Heirs would be the only book I would ever write. (Oh, silly me. 😂)
With the second book, I found indie author friends online as well as consistent critique partners, and that changed everything.
So what happened with the third book?
We can break it out into a few important eureka moments:
- I gained confidence. I’d put myself out there, been rejected dozens of times, had a few reviews that smarted, but had a lot more that encouraged me forward. With all that under my belt, I no longer had that paralyzing fear of failure that had kept me back. Even if the next book doesn’t get picked up by an agent, I can publish it myself – and that’s still very fulfilling to me.
- Also, I realized I could work on multiple WIPs at one time. This was absolutely crucial. Right now I have *FIVE* (😱) WIPs – querying one, editing two, revising one, and plotting one. I cycle through them to give myself some perspective when I come back through drafts, and that way I can always be working on one thing while I’m waiting on responses to queries, CP feedback, editor feedback, etc.
- Juggling WIPs also forced me to establish a process that worked for me. My experience allowed me to come up with realistic timelines and goals for myself to meet. It’s incredibly motivating for me to cross things off my list, and it lets me see the things I have to look forward to.
- I found CPs & Betas I can depend on, and in a pinch, I knew how to find others quickly (psst critiquematch.com). Their objective feedback is invaluable to help me find problems EARLY in the process so I don’t get into the editing phase and have a huge “Oh Sh*t” moment. They also continued to teach me valuable writing lessons, and I hone my own editing skills on their work as well. These relationships are also a bulwark of support and encouragement which is also vital to a process heavy in critique.
- I studied up on writing craft books which have given me epiphanies that also helping in every phase of the journey. But most critically, Save the Cat Writes the Novel gave me the framework I needed to learn how to plot effectively. Once again, it allowed me to identify problems very early, which eliminated a lot of time-consuming rewriting.
- Inertia is powerful. I am *not* an every day writer by any means… but I usually do something writer-related (almost) every day, even if it’s something incredibly small like a tweet-sized story for vss365. The most difficult part of writing for me is starting *anything.* So by keeping that positive pressure, I can keep rolling without mentally having to do the thing where I show up to write and think “Um… how do I do this again?”
Anyways, those are just the tips that have worked for me. Ultimately, every writing speed is completely valid. As long as you’re enjoying the journey, that’s what’s most important.
Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful, and if you have any other questions, let me know!