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Wherever I look on the internet, indie authors talk about how they publish a book a year. Sometimes even 2 or more. And every time I read about this, I ask myself: HOW?!

I published my first book about a year ago after 5 long years of hard work. Of course that was my very first book and I still had a lot to learn. I figured that I would be way faster with my second book and release it within a year, no problem. After all, I've seen a lot of other authors pumping out books.

I have been working on Book 2 since I wrote it during last year's NaNoWriMo. There's no way I'm publishing it anytime soon. It may take me yet another half year of revising/editing/working with a feedback group as well as a professional editor. I just feel like I'm soooo slow and I had to rant about it to someone who may relate.

Any thoughts on this? :eek:
 

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I've written loads of books but comparatively few novels, and the longest word length for me was 60K which for some people is a pretty short book. But anyway to answer your question, that particular book took me about three months to write, and a further month of editing and polishing before publishing. Some people around here are capable of doing all of that in a matter of a few weeks.
 

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I'm in the same boat as you, but I've definitely come to realize that I do alright in that boat.聽 Generally I get about a book a year done, maybe a little more or a little less, but around there, and I really like doing it that way.聽 I could probably write something fast, but it wouldn't be the same.聽 A lot of the time I might take a week and just casually think about the next chapter or how the next plot points fit or something.聽 If I rushed it, I wouldn't get the same level of consideration for the parts of the thing.聽 And, I wouldn't get the odd chapters where I just thought of a line I liked and the whole chapter came with it.聽 Heh, that happens a lot.

One downside to the slower pace is that I'm working on a series right now and people reading it have to wait for the next one.聽 Or if they are reading the second one, the first one might not be real fresh in the mind.聽 It's a definite problem, but when I weigh it out in my head, I'd rather get the book I want and maybe make something of a clumsy series.

About 7-8 years ago I was working on book that I specifically wanted to do in a year.聽 The plot of the story took place over about a year in their world, so I figured that I could describe the seasons the best if I was watching them.聽 Was it a good idea?聽 I mean, I do think it gave the setting some depth.聽 But was it worth spending a year on?聽 That's very debatable.

I don't know, I think that there's a degree of what works for you works for you.聽 Also, it depends on what you want to get out of the business side of things.聽 If you wanted to make a living off just writing, then I completely understand turning out books fast.
 

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I find that I can write 2k words a day without getting particularly stressed. Let's be conservative and call that 10k words a week. That means I can write 520,000 words a year, right? That's two hefty fantasy novels, or five solid thrillers...

Nice theory. I'll be doing well if I get to 200k words and 2 books this year. Rewriting takes time, professional editing takes time, outlining takes time, research takes a lot of time. And that's before thinking about other time sinks: ideas that go nowhere, marketing efforts, life, and so on.

I wish it wasn't so, and I'm working at ways to get quicker and more efficient. Putting out four or more books a year would be awesome, especially in the self-publishing game.

Best of luck with your writing.
 

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I write 45-51K a week. I do the main writing on 2.5 books a month. I write under two author names and publish 2-3 books a month. I have three editors/proofreaders who clean things up for me after the fact. I overlap everything and am six months ahead.
And, before the inevitable bitter individuals come in and say nothing good can be written that fast, keep in mind that I don't care what you think. I know otherwise. The more you write, the better you get. If you set arbitrary time frames for what's good in this business in your head, you're doomed to fail and whenever you spout nonsense about quality and time you're basically reinforcing your own limitations, not mine as you want, because I don't believe I have limitations.
 

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A friend gave me some great advice some years ago, passed on from his mom: "You have to do what's right for YOU."

If it takes you a year or more (or five) to produce a finished book that you're proud of, I see nothing wrong with that. Yes, the demands of the indie publishing business may reward people who churn product out a lot faster than that, but if you constantly compare yourself to other people, you're working with a giant weight hanging around your neck.

I think the real answer is, "It takes as long as it takes."

Those mega-producers may be much more able to line their ducks up in a nice, neat row than you are. The demands of their non-writing life may give them more available writing time. They may be able to slide their creative minds into gear with relatively little trouble. I have almost unlimited time available, but I also deal with anxiety and depression that on many days won't let me focus.

Long story short, I think it's AWESOME that you finished that first book and are working on a second one. That's a huge accomplishment, and I wish you tons of luck!
 
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There are two different aspects of this.

One is experience and practice. There are always exceptions to everything, but talking generally, the more practiced and proficient you get at something, the faster you can do it. And part of the reason is that, with time and effort, you learn your own processes better and how to refine them. Which leads into the second aspect.

People are both wired differently and have different situations. A full time author without dependents is going to have a lot more time for writing (and the associated work of polishing and publishing a book) than someone who works a full time job and has multiple dependents on top of that. But even putting that aside, people's processes and wiring are different. There's no getting around that. We don't all have the same baseline of capacity when it comes to something like speed of publishing because our brains don't all work the same way. If you use running as an analogy, anyone with the physical ability/health to be able to run at all can improve their speed through practice and training. But that doesn't mean we all have the capacity to train until we can run 100 meters in under 10 secs. For many of us, we are not built in a way to ever achieve that.

So what does that mean practically? To start with, be careful that you walk the line between inspiration and discouragement. Seeing others moving at a faster pace can provide great inspiration, but it can also lead to crippling discouragement and burn out if you start telling yourself that you "should" be able to do something that is actually beyond your capacity (whether because of life situation, wiring, or experience levels). Instead, I would recommend focusing on learning more about your own processes. What helps you move forward and what blocks you? (Bearing in mind that won't be exactly the same as any other author.) Refine your process (the process that is best aligned with how *your* creativity and productivity work) and then keep practicing. And lastly, once you understand your own capacity and how much potential you have to speed up, adjust your expectations and plans/goals to align with your reality--otherwise you're risking burnout.
 

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Carol Davis said:
Long story short, I think it's AWESOME that you finished that first book and are working on a second one. That's a huge accomplishment, and I wish you tons of luck!
Ha, yep, Carol nailed it!
 

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Amanda M. Lee said:
I write 45-51K a week. I do the main writing on 2.5 books a month. I write under two author names and publish 2-3 books a month. I have three editors/proofreaders who clean things up for me after the fact. I overlap everything and am six months ahead.
And, before the inevitable bitter individuals come in and say nothing good can be written that fast, keep in mind that I don't care what you think. I know otherwise. The more you write, the better you get. If you set arbitrary time frames for what's good in this business in your head, you're doomed to fail and whenever you spout nonsense about quality and time you're basically reinforcing your own limitations, not mine as you want, because I don't believe I have limitations.
Well I'd never judge without reading a writer's work first, but you can see why people would think that. My partner reads incredibly quickly. Like, really, really, insanely quickly. She'll finish a book that took me a week to get through in a day and I'll say "surely you were just scanning it and not taking all of it in" and she'll tell me everything that happened. I think it's sometimes hard for us to understand how people can work in a way so vastly different to the way we work. But I find it strange when people say they struggle with blurbs, because I find them relatively easy.

I do agree with what you say about training yourself to write that fast. I haven't got a great deal of experience writing longer pieces, but now that I've finished my first full length work I already know the next one will be that much easier, and the third one will be easier again.
 

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EleanorRigby said:
Well I'd never judge without reading a writer's work first, but you can see why people would think that. My partner reads incredibly quickly. Like, really, really, insanely quickly. She'll finish a book that took me a week to get through in a day and I'll say "surely you were just scanning it and not taking all of it in" and she'll tell me everything that happened. I think it's sometimes hard for us to understand how people can work in a way so vastly different to the way we work. But I find it strange when people say they struggle with blurbs, because I find them relatively easy.

I do agree with what you say about training yourself to write that fast. I haven't got a great deal of experience writing longer pieces, but now that I've finished my first full length work I already know the next one will be that much easier, and the third one will be easier again.
No, I honestly can't see why people think that. It's a failing on them, not the people doing the writing. I'm over it. Basically it essentially comes down to certain people who can't do something telling others they can't do it either. There's nothing I don't believe I can't do ... except math. I'm crap at math.
 

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.

The big key for me to write fast was taking the time up front to outline. If I try pantsing a story I spend so much time pondering what happens next and the ramifications of that action and the following action with the possible new direction ... the story does not move forward faster than a crawl. Outlining I find I get two shots at creativity, once on the broad scope, and once while writing, which doubles my potential to make a better story.

There are writers on this forum that regularly hit 10,000 words a day. Fastest writing I've done was 3,500 words in a single day. Most often when 'in the groove' it's 2,000 and I'm fine with that. Sometimes it's only 500 words, but that is 500 more than the day before. I have spent a solid week outlining a trilogy, and figure that is as important as editing the final books since outlining is Editing The Story itself.

Other tricks are write every day and track word count by date in a spreadsheet. Make notes in another column. Then you have data to see and make positive adjustments, perhaps changing the time of day you write.

It might be helpful for you to get the perspective of this blog: deanwesleysmith.com (search for 'writing fast' and get links like https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/become-a-better-storyteller-write-faster/) Dean is not a fan of outlining (but that's because he's written enough he knows the plot points he needs to hit by long practice, same with the other famous pantster Stephen King), but he does talk frequently about writing fast. He also often digs into the fallacy of the romantic myth readers hold for slow writing.

.
 

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Amanda M. Lee said:
I write 45-51K a week. I do the main writing on 2.5 books a month. I write under two author names and publish 2-3 books a month. I have three editors/proofreaders who clean things up for me after the fact. I overlap everything and am six months ahead.
And, before the inevitable bitter individuals come in and say nothing good can be written that fast, keep in mind that I don't care what you think. I know otherwise. The more you write, the better you get. If you set arbitrary time frames for what's good in this business in your head, you're doomed to fail and whenever you spout nonsense about quality and time you're basically reinforcing your own limitations, not mine as you want, because I don't believe I have limitations.
You definitely don't have (writing) limitations! :)
 

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Honestly, if writing is your love, you shouldn't overthink the first draft. Or the second. But by the third, you need to get other people to help you straighten it up. The more you write the better the writing gets. And if you have the time to make this your full time profession you'll get further along than most--and that's a big if.

I find these authors inspiring to the enth degree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prolific_writers
 
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It depends on the story. I finished a paranormal mystery for Kindle Scout (back when it existed) in about six weeks.聽 While I love historical research, it does slow down the process.聽 Now, I usually write one story while researching another.聽
 

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sarah_tanzmann said:
Any thoughts on this? :eek:
Know thyself! You need to understand why it takes you that long. That means time and chart your first draft writing sessions in a notebook or spreadsheet--whatever you're comfortable with.

You'll learn you write X words per hour.

You might also learn that to accomplish X amount of writing, you spent 2X time because of distractions, rewriting instead of new writing, research, etc.

You'll learn how much time per day, week, month you're actually writing.

Once you know these things about yourself you can start to understand why it's taking a certain amount of time. "Oh, I write 1000 words per hour" but it takes me a year to get 40 hours of writing time due to other life commitments." Or maybe you learn, "Oh, I only produced 100 new words in a 1 hour writing session because I spend 30 minutes rewriting old stuff and 20 minutes on facebook."

Whatever. Track your process and understand exactly what's happening with your first draft. That tends to be key. You need to know before you can decide to optimize your process or accept it's right for you.

Once you understand your first draft process, take a critical look at your later draft/editing process (but the metrics here aren't as clear as first draft new words)
 

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Amanda M. Lee said:
I write 45-51K a week. I do the main writing on 2.5 books a month. I write under two author names and publish 2-3 books a month. I have three editors/proofreaders who clean things up for me after the fact. I overlap everything and am six months ahead.
And, before the inevitable bitter individuals come in and say nothing good can be written that fast, keep in mind that I don't care what you think. I know otherwise. The more you write, the better you get. If you set arbitrary time frames for what's good in this business in your head, you're doomed to fail and whenever you spout nonsense about quality and time you're basically reinforcing your own limitations, not mine as you want, because I don't believe I have limitations.
As always, your advice and feedback are a breath of fresh air. I'm only sad you stopped updating the thousand word a day thread with your daily word counts. They always inspired me. (I'm a low 5k a day type writer).
 

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I can totally relate to you, Sarah. I'm slow and inconsistent and I really struggle with wordcount. As usual, my goal this year is to be more consistent and finish a book faster. I say that every year, but this time I feel I've definitely improved.

It took me 1.5 years to write my first novel which was the first book in a planned trilogy. It clocked in at 66K words (a little short but okay for a thriller). After it was professionally edited I published it right away because I was so happy to finally be done. I had the plan that I'd write book 2 within two months now that I knew what I was doing. What a joke. 3 years later I finally finished the second book!

I know what my obstacles are and most of them are just excuses. I say life gets in the way because I have two kids and a dog that take up a lot of my time. But I'm a stay-at-home mom and my kids are teenagers now and gone all day so that excuse is invalid. I say that I have a hard time writing when anyone else is home because I can't concentrate so that means I don't write on weekends, holidays, summer vacation, or any time anyone else is in the house. That excuse is total garbage. I could find a way if I was disciplined enough.

However, I do feel that my slow writing speed is somewhat valid. I do edit when I write and I spend a lot of time finding the right way to describe something which really slows me down, but this is because I have a really hard time editing afterward. Cutting and rewriting whole paragraphs and even sentences is so hard for me. I then spend more time rewriting the transition sentences so it doesn't sound choppy. I find that when I write that first draft slower and cleaner, it needs very little editing and rewriting later. One pass with a red pen circling typos and making notes of details to add or cut, a second pass to take care of the red markup, and then I can send a very clean manuscript to my editor. That part has made the post-first draft part a breeze.

But like I said, this year I'm going to do better and I have been. Not exactly how well I wanted to be doing, but definitely better. After I finished Book 2 I spent a good 3 weeks writing a super-detailed outline for Book 3 where I did all the research I would need and worked out all the plot issues. I then did my own version of NaNoWriMo and had 2 friends hold me accountable on daily word counts (my goal was to average 1K a day and finish 30K in the month of June). I did it! And in the middle of the pandemic where everyone was home in the house ALL DAY!! I stole my son's desk from his room and put it in my bedroom and shut everyone out for 2 hours a day. But then, once my "challenge" was over, I fell back into my bad habit of inconsistency. :(

I'm not giving up though. I just published Book 2 so that I'm pressured to finish Book 3. I wrote the first half in that month of June so I know I'm capable of finishing it within another month (or two). Your post came at just the right time because as I'm writing this, I'm becoming more and more motivated to finally finish this trilogy that's 5 years in the making. If I can finish Book 3 in October then that would mean I was able to outline and write it in a total of about 6 months. A huge improvement over the 1.5 years of writing Book 1 and the 3 years of writing Book 2. I know I'll get faster with more experience and consistency so my next goal will be to write the next 70K novel in 3 months. I can do it if I stay relatively consistent and average 1K a day.

Good luck to you and all of us that are struggling with wordcounts. I'm going to use this motivation and start my 1K a day goal right now! Cheers!
 
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