26 June 2007

REPOST 9/18/2006 How long to write a book?

I've written several times on the subject of not comparing how fast or slow you write to another author. As I recall, I usually tell people that doing so is an exercise in driving yourself insane. I'm also fond of saying that there are some people who are capable of writing quickly and well, some slowly and well, some quickly and badly and some poor soul agonizes over every word and still writes badly.

Still, people ask me how fast I write. Well, that's not the easiest question to answer. Why not? Okay...let's break it down.

I average 50,000 words of new writing every month...probably much more, if you add in blogs and e-mail . But, that doesn't equate to a new novel every month and a half. Why not?

For one thing, I don't just write novels. I write poetry, articles, essays, short stories and novellas. I may not finish a novel, because I'm busy writing the other styles I enjoy writing.

Even when I do write novels, they don't all fall around that blessed 75,000-90,000 mark. I have a few as short as 55,000 words (category length) and a bunch over 100,000. The longest novel I've written actually became a serial of two books that each weighed in at about 100,000 words long. When you're writing something that clocks in at 214,000 words, it's not going to be finished in 6 weeks...probably.

Whether my projects on the desk are all novels or not, usually not, I don't work on one thing at a time. I haven't done that since I wrote my second novel. Of course, I jokingly said that it was self-defense to write one at a time before then. Twenty-one POV characters is hard enough to do at one time, let alone throwing more books on top of it.

I am a pantser (a seat-of-the pants writer). If I have a dozen or more projects on the desk, I write on what screams the loudest...unless I have a deadline to consider. That means that a PARTICULAR book may take 6 weeks or more than a year.

And, being character driven means that I need a strong sense of character to write one. If the character will be a secondary character forever, that's not so bad. If the character will ever have center stage, I need to know what's going on inside his mind early in the game, even if he's a secondary character in book one and won't have his own book until book seven. That means I'm writing bits and pieces of series for years before the books for those characters are published, just so I can get a strong sense of the characters from day one and not have wishy-washy characters or inconstant characterization.

So, how long does it take me to write a book? Your guess is as good as mine.

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