In an ideal world, I’d be able to write and publish an absolutely brilliant novel once a month, every month.
At this point, I can’t. I may never be able to.
But I have been looking at my individual processes, trying to tweak them and so speed up the entire process, and possibly gain more quality as a result.
For me, the road to publishing has many steps, including:
–Write the first draft. I can draft pretty quickly. I’ve been working on spending more time with my butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard, writing more.
–Make the first draft not broke. Any draft I finish–be it a short story or a novel–is broken when I first finish it. I must go through the entire thing and fix stuff. For example, possibly a character changed careers mid-book (as what happened in the last novel.) Or maybe I started writing the book and thought the main character was a certain age, only to discover she wasn’t. Etc.
The “make it not broke” step takes time because I’m figuring stuff out. I spend a lot of time listening to my inner writer, to hear what she’s actually trying to say. Then making sure that gets down on the page.
–Read the story out loud. My ear always catches things my eye misses.
–I send this less broken draft to first readers. I am so lucky. I have some brilliant first readers. Then I get to incorporate their comments.
Incorporating reader comments is the step I’ve been working on most recently.
I figured out that one of the reasons I kept stopping or getting stuck while incorporating reader comments was because I was constantly moving from critical voice to creative voice, then back and forth again. This was also why I found it tiring, as well as tedious.
So I’ve made some changes. I have two laptops. One is the production machine that I use for publishing, designing covers, as well as email. The other is my writing machine. There’s no internet on the writing machine. No games. The only thing I ever use that machine to do is write.
I now keep the critical, reader-comment manuscripts on my production machine, while I keep the actual text on my writing machine. That way, I’m encouraging the creative process. When I turn away from the production machine, I know it’s time to be creative, time to write.
That split has helped a lot. Made the switching back and forth easier. It also made it much easier to step back and let the inner writer do what she needed to do.
Another thing I did while incorporating the latest set of comments was to question myself every time I stopped. Did a lot of checking in with myself.
Why was I stopping? What was it that was causing me to stop? Had I slipped out of the fun, creative voice too far? Was I afraid of something? Or did I just really need a break?
The replies were interesting. Sometimes I honestly needed a break. I needed to think, or I needed to walk away from the keyboard for a while.
Sometimes, I’d stopped because I’d lost the “fun train”, as it were. I was getting too critical. I needed to pull back, find out what I love about this, then start again.
The fear was the most interesting. I refuse to stay afraid, though. Fear is the thing that will get me to walk out of the room, then walk right back in again. I refuse to stop writing because of fear. I think it’s stupid.
Doesn’t stop me from being afraid sometimes. I just have to make sure that I’m going to keep going, regardless.
So instead of taking a week to incorporate reader comments, I managed to do it in about three days. Mind you, those were three days of solid work. Lots of hours. And lots of new words. Added 15% more to the manuscript.
When I was working full time, I didn’t feel the need to get efficient this way. Writing full time, I’m more conscious of where all my writing time goes.
And now, back to the writing…