What’s Around the Bend Today?   11 comments

How many hours a day do you write? How long on average does it take you to write a book?


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What an appropriate question for Novel Writing Month!

Right now, novelists around the world are attempting to write a novel in one month – about 50,000 words, which means about 1700 words per day.

I don’t wholly participate in Nanowrimo. I tried it once and that book will never see the light of day. I did everything they said to do. Plotted it out ahead of time. Got to know my characters. And I actually wrote 60,000 words in November 2014. Uh, wait! Hadn’t I already published a novel by that time? Why, yes, I had! So what went wrong?

I’m a discovery writer. Plotting makes my characters go rogue and when my characters rebel, I write crap! What I produced was full of plot holes and characters acting out of their “character”. And, yeah, I tried to fix it, but no — that book will never see the light of day. The characters no longer talk to me, so there’s no point in trying. I have scavenged portions of it for other books that had nothing to do with it, so it wasn’t a complete loss, but it was a really BAD book.

But you publish a novel annually!

I do. Well, I have. I try to do so. I’ve come pretty close to not accomplishing it some years. Next year, I think I might publish two novels and Fount of Wraiths (Book 3 in Daermad Cycle) should move a little closer to completion. It just has to do where my projects are in terms of completion because I don’t focus on just one project at a time.

How do you do it then?

I always have a primary and secondary project and sometimes I have a tertiary project and several works-in-progress that are nowhere near completion. I also have a back catalog of stories I wrote for my own amazement and I slowly develop those into polished stories. My problem is not ideas for stories, but focusing on one project so that I finish it, but if I focus too long on one project I risk getting bored and have my characters stop talking to me.

I can complete a rough draft of a Transformation Project book in three months. The high points of the plot are already set because it’s a series and quite frequently my characters have told me the next book’s story before I finish the one I’m about to publish. Three months allows me the freedom I need to discover the subplot of a story that has a long arc. Last year, I wrote the rough draft for Gathering In during Nanowrimo. In a way, I cheated because I took a 20,000-word manuscript and expanded it to a 60,000-word manuscript in those 30 days. Not exactly following the rules, but I produced a better product, avoiding major plot holes, for example. Other years, I have used Nano for editing my rough draft. It’s not that I don’t find it useful, but that my characters won’t allow me to rush the story and they don’t generally follow plots that I outline. They prefer to forge their own paths.

This year, I’m expanding a 20,000-word manuscript novel into a 60,000-word YA/NA novel. Again, I’m not following the rules. I’ve been working on a related-piece for this novel for years. I know the characters really well. The actual project had a lot of backstory that really needed to be explained, but I hate info dumps, and I finally accepted that the story of characters were telling me was worth telling as its own story. The next part of the story might come out the following year, since it’s pretty much a polished manuscript that just needs the backstory reduced to references (saving about 20,000 words, which was preventing it from nearing publication). I’ve written about 15,000 words this month, which means I’m behind my goal. Big deal. Maybe the story only needs 50,000 words or maybe I’ll finish the rough-ish draft in December. I’m set on writing a decent story, not speed writing crap.

But You Set Goals, Right?

I do. I strive to write every day … although yesterday, I wrote 10 words – one sentence. Things came up and sometimes that’s how life is. (I must also admit that I am currently working on a non-fiction article for my employer, so I really wrote 350 words yesterday. I wrote the 10 for myself and then closed the laptop and joined my husband watching a murder mystery on Netflix. My brain needed a break).

Most days, I try to write at least 500 words. In 30 days, that’s 15,000 words. But some days, I write a thousand. My record is about 3400 words in a single day. They were GOOD words too. My muse was working overtime and I went with it.

I almost always finish a rough draft for Transformation Project in three months. It’ll come out to around 60,000 words, about 600–700 words a day. Most TP novels publish at 80,000 words, so that gives me some wriggle room on rewrite. I then take a month off that manuscript and work on something else. Again, I’m aiming for 500 words a day, but I have days when I don’t write (because life is what happens while we’re banging on the keyboard) and days when I’m way over that word limit. Since this is unstructured writing time, those 15,000 words might not all be on one story.

I don’t track hours. Although writing is my second profession and I do make some money from it, I don’t want it to feel like it’s a job, so I don’t track hours.

Do you see how that works?

I have an overall goal to publish one novel a year, but I don’t hold that goal so tightly that it gets in the way of my desire to produce a good story. I have a goal to finish a rough draft of my primary project in three months, but I don’t hold that goal so tightly that I tolerate plot holes and character assassination or risk burning out my muse. I have a goal to write at least 500 words a day, but I recognize some days are going to be less-productive writing days and that’s fine because I find real life to be a great source of inspiration.

Writing is not an assembly line!

I’m not a Ladies’ Garment Workers employee. I’m an artist whose characters inform my output. I can’t do it any other way and produce high quality stories. So, while I have goals, I don’t kill myself to meet them, but it always seems to work out that I publish at least one novel a year, which isn’t too bad when you consider that some of the professionals can’t seem to do that.

Now, I gotta get back to novel writing. I’m about 10,000 words behind.

Posted November 18, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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11 responses to “What’s Around the Bend Today?

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  1. You have no idea, Lela, how happy I am to read this post. I write about 500 to 1000 words per day [when I can which isn’t every day either]. I thought this was far less than other people, but it is what I can manage. With all the promotion and other writerly stuff I have to do to sell any books, one novel a year is my maximum too.


    • We are indie authors. I don’t live on my book income — I’d starve. I have a fulltime job and I’d like to stay married. I enjoy interacting with the other people and I like going to church. My health demands I work out. My mental health requires that I go out into the woods and hike around for a while and there is no Internet in most of Alaska’s wilderness. All these other activities take time and I balance them against writing novels. They also inspire a good deal of what I write, so they’re not really hurting my writing. But it is a balance and under no circumstances do I want to burn out my muse. So, one book a year — that seems fine for someone who writes parttime, considering there are some big-name authors who come out with a book far less than that. It. I’m certainly not going to let anyone, even the book blogs, shame me on that stance.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sometimes I also just write one sentence in a day. As you say, it depends if the muse is working or not. Other days I can write 1000 words. I don’t worry too much about it.


  3. While I do write a lot, I’m very conscious of the need to produce good work, for my own satisfaction. Not only that, if I’m paying an editor (which I do gladly) I’d rather not send them anything that’s not my absolute best. My hard-drive has plenty of stories that never quite made it. At the end of the day, if I’m happy with what I’ve produced and my editor is happy that the story hangs together, it’s job done.


    • Okay. My friend, who works as an editor but has me on as a favor, will give me a discount if she doesn’t have much work to do. If she can just enjoy the book and catch a few typos, it saves me a few hundred dollars, which I can spend on marketing … or pay the electric bill. My betas are getting a free book out of the deal and sometimes they’re more stringent than Tera is. It depends on what I send her. The last short I sent her, she cut a hundred words out that didn’t need to be in there. Other times, I feel like she’s not mean enough. I really like honesty.


  4. I agree- writing IS NOT an assembly line, but there are some authors out there who treat it like it is. Some of them are talented, and I wonder what their stories would be like if they slowed down and moved away from formula stories.


    • Stephen King is a perfect example. I can’t abide most of his horror books. Part of that is I don’t like horror as a genre, but I also know when he’s going to hit his plot points and it bugs me. But when you read his science fiction, he doesn’t do that and I find myself going “Yeah, he’s a talented writer, so why do formula?” The answer, of course, was that his publisher wanted him to keep cranking out those stories and that required a formula. And, then most of the big-name action writers are actually handing a plot outline to a team and they’re writing the actual story — which jars me when I run across sections that don’t quite match the voice or the tenor of the rest of the book.

      Even some indie authors do it. You read their third book and it’s like – wow, how did I know that was coming? Oh, yeah, it was in the last two books on almost exactly the same page.

      And, yeah, some of them are truly talented writers who could do so much better.


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