Yesterday I saw an interesting question posted in a writing group which I belong to. The person who posted it had a friend who worries that nine months is too long to spend writing a book, and that they're already a failure because it's taken that long to write it.
My initial reaction was to smile. After all, when I first started writing, it took me a whole year to get the book finished and my second book took roughly the same amount of time too. But I smiled because I could almost feel the writer's anxiety and that's exactly how I felt when I first started the writing journey.
Writing a novel seems an insurmountable task. It can take anything from a few weeks, a few months, or even years. In fact, one of my writer friends took a whole decade to write his first book. But now that book is finished and since then he's written several more.
In a world where everything is instant, anxiety can flare up when you want to write a book. No matter which universe you exist in producing a book can never be instant, and this is only a good thing.
But sometimes having some sort of deadline can be positive. It's no good if you think you can write a book in a year if you don't actually decide when that year is going to be.
So, how can you break down this task of writing a book into a more manageable accomplishment?
Well, that's easy. It's just like eating an elephant.
When I start out on a new project, I always like to brainstorm new ideas. This usually happens when I snatch a few minutes in between life's daily tasks. Then I take my ideas and write a brief outline. And I'll keep doing this until I feel I have enough ideas to start a chapter. A chapter usually takes about a week to write. I repeat this process over several months until I have completed the first draft of my manuscript.
But in between all this I always make sure I have enough time to reflect. Because reflection is one of the most important tools writers can have. Even when you're not actually writing your mind will still be processing the storyline. And this is usually the time when new ideas come to you, or you might want to alter the plotline slightly so it fits in with your new ideas. It's amazing how much 'writing' you do in your mind when you're not actually writing!
So think of your writing as being a nice big cake. It takes time to get the ingredients together, to make it and to cook. And none of those processes can be rushed.
Tell me how long it takes you to write a book. Can you write faster as the years go by or does producing a book always take a certain amount of time?