Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just face it

As many of you know, I put a lot of work into my novel Searcher. Fifteen months, to be exact. Fifteen months of hard, hard work. I gotta say, it left me pretty burned out.

So during my writing break/philosophical journey, I made some big plans. I told myself that when I started my next book I was going to do things differently. No more lashing myself with the work whip. No more hair shirt. I was just going to grab the kernel of an idea (any idea will do,) jump on the free writing roller coaster, and enjoy the ride. I was going to pound out a book in a month just like everyone else (*cough*kiersten*cough*natalie*cough*) seems to and that was that.

Well, I tried.

And failed.

And I've had to face a truth. You are what you are. As much as I really, really (really, really) wanted to, I just can't write that way. I am, like it or not, a planner. A note taker. An outliner (*shudder*) I have to know where I'm going when I sit down to the computer. When I try to do it any other way, I either end up staring at a blank screen or writing a few pages that I will absolutely hate the minute I'm done.

So there is it. Face it. I'm in for another fifteen months of work. And I guess that's the way it should be. We have to accept who we are as a writers, and who we aren't.

But don't worry, this time, I really will leave my whip and hair shirt in the closet.


Natalie Whipple said...

No worries, Ren! Plan away! There is nothing wrong with that, silly. I'm glad you finally realized it.

Still, I'm glad you're leaving the whip behind.

Candice said...

You probably already know what I'm going to say... me too! :) I was complaining to Kasie the other day about the fact that it takes me a year to write a book. Granted, every year the book I write is better, but alas I am who am, and I'm learning to embrace my tortoise pace. It's all relative anyway. Some people spend a lifetime writing a novel. Either way, your books are worth waiting for because they are awesome!

Mary Campbell said...

I'm the same way Renee. In fact just this morning I sat staring off in space during my writing time because I needed to imagine the upcoming scenes first. Do what works for you.

Tere Kirkland said...

Join the club! (No, really, we need to organize so we can buy cool notebooks and pens wholesale)

I'm a dyed in the wool plotter and can't write without a "safety net". Doesn't mean I plan absolutely everything. I still have some spontaneity as I write.

It's almost as if I outline in a way that's plot-driven, then write in a way that's more character driven. It's been working for me so far.

Keep the self-flagellation to a minimum this year, huh?

Kara said...

Whips are bad.

I find that every now and then the best way to keep writing at your own pace without speed-writer envy or querying-request envy is to unplug the internet for a while. Sometimes when you don't keep up with what other people are doing you feel a lot less pressured :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

We all have different styles and speed limits. If it makes you feel any better, it took Susan V. Bosak and the illustrators 5 YEARS to write the PICTURE BOOK Dream. :-)

Lady Glamis said...

Ah, Ren. *sigh*

I didn't even know you were doing this. See, I tried this with MONARCH. It worked. But not really. and now I've been working on it for ... 15 months. Imagine that. And guess what? It's probably going to be another 15 months before it's really done. Hopefully not that long but it feels like it. I just take a long time to write books, and apparently you do, too.

As Natalie's always telling us, you can't be anyone but you. Embrace it!

Renee Collins said...

Natalie-Yes. :) And I know there's nothing actually wrong with plotting. I was just hoping I could get away with skipping it. But alas, I cannot.

Candice-You're too kind. But you bring up a very good point, just because it takes us longer, doesn't mean we are learning any less or even necessarily more slowly than the speedys.

Mary-That's me too. For sure. I have to "see" where I'm going before I go.

Tere-Let's set up that club! The Slowpokes. I can see it now. :)

I like your word choice "safety net." That's a good description. I don't plan out every detail either, but I have to have something.

Kara-Such great advice. I regularly have to remind myself of this because it really does mess with my sense of progress to watch others blitz along at the speed of sound.

Shannon-Wow! That does make me feel better actually. :) That's dedication, right there.

Renee Collins said...

Michelle-Yes, you and I are on the same boat, I think. It's going to take us a while any way we slice it. :)

But I agree, we can only embrace our quirks and then force them to work for us. :)

giddymomof6 said...

Renee--You're gorgeous and tall and have beautiful kids, and have this awesome talent of being able to work photoshop, and do funny quirkly blogs... Should I go on? Yes, I'm wildly jealous of you! Because you rock!

storyqueen said...

I honestly have no idea how people write so fast.

I think it's a good idea to figure out what works for you and go for it.

Although I will tell you(having been an author for 15 years) the process for each piece of writing is a little different. Some things come out quickly, some not so much.

Good luck!


Jessie Oliveros said...

I wrote a rough draft in two months, and now I'm rewriting pretty much all of it. I'm sure it will take me a long, long time. Rough draft was helpful, but a very small step in the book-writing process for me.

Blank said...

Renee - I'd say most writers do not write books in a month. That is WAY fast. I learned that myself recently. It takes me at least 3 months to get a rough, rough draft out. And then more for revisions.

Cassandra Clare took two years to write City of Bones.

John Green took two years to write Looking for Alaska.

It takes TIME. So good for you! Don't force something out so quickly. Make it right. And love it!

Natalie said...

It takes me a long time to write too. I'm so envious of people who can crank them out, but it just isn't something I can do. Good luck with your new book! I hope you enjoy the ride.

Renee Collins said...

Jenny-Aw, such kind words! Thank you!

Shelly-Very true. I actually did write my second book in six weeks. I was in a different place then, but hey, I'm in a different place than when I started Searcher.

Jessie-See, if I approach my next novel the way I did Searcher, I edited several times as I wrote the first draft. It took me over six months, but then I still edited for eight months after that.

Blank-Very true. And that's what I've accepted, albeit grudgingly. :)

Natalie B.-Well, it's at good to know I'm not alone in this. :)

Melissa said...

I recently figured out that I'm a slow writer, too. I started my WIP in September and thought I would be finished by Christmas. Well, it's almost February and I'm only halfway through with the first draft. And I have to use an outline, too. I wanted to write for years, but never knew what to do. When I finally made an outline (a very general one at that) things just clicked in place.

Good luck with your book and take all the time you need to make it wonderful:)

Kiersten White said...

Hey--I happen to like the products of your method, so I say, full speed (no matter what that speed may be) ahead!!

Kasie West said...

Everyone is different (I'm singing this, btw). No one is the same. One way isn't better. One way isn't lame.

Tell me that wasn't the awesomest song ever? :)

I think we all do this--compare ourselves to others. I constantly wish I could plot more like Candi or have better descriptions. It's hard to get away from it. I think it's just another way of torturing ourselves.

But your way obviously works because you produce great books.