Good Things Take Time

It takes a long time to write a book.  Okay, let me rephrase that: It takes me a long time to write a book…

“Here I am!” I declare to the world.  “Writing!”

Time passes.

“Yep still writing,” I say.

More time passes.

“Yes, still the same book…”.

January. February. March…

“You could read some of the start if you like? – First draft disclaimers and all…”

April. May.

“Yes, it’s going well.”

June.

“Does blogging count as writing?”

*Bangs head on desk.*

July.

“Maybe starting the blog was a bit premature?”

I know I’m not the only one who struggles to get the finished book out there.  My new favourite fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss recently wrote a great blog post, Why I Love My Editor, where he got very honest about needing time and space to write.  It turns out knocking out a bestseller first time comes with its own pressures, and Rothfuss’s editor, Betsy Wollheim, not only recognised he needed time to write a great book, but made sure he got it.  I’m so glad she did, his second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, was every bit as good as his debut novel.

So what keeps drawing us back to the page, to write, rewrite and write again?  It’s certainly not for immediate gratification – the finished product is such long time in the making.

For me it’s about passion and purpose, perseverance, self discipline and a realisation that anything worth having is worth the effort.

A friend of mine recently took up running in a big way.  She set her mind on completing a half marathon, and trained at least six days a week for months on end.   A small girl to start off with, she quickly transformed into a lean, mean running machine.  The half marathon goal was quickly accomplished, and her love of running cemented.  She made it look easy.

I have to admit I was really impressed and toyed with the idea of running a half marathon myself.  That was until she talked to me about ice baths.  I’ve got to be honest, I think I stopped listening when she said ice bath.  I couldn’t think of any reason in the world I would put my body through anything that required an ice bath afterwards.

Please hear my heart here – I have the hugest respect for my friend (and I’m sure you can run a marathon without needing a bath with ice in it), but I just do not enjoy running enough to do what it takes to run a big race.

However there is something I love enough to (metaphorically) take an ice bath for.  Herein lies the key: Having a goal is a great thing, but you have to love what you do if you want to stay the distance.

So I’m still writing.  Tweaking the plot, working the prose and moulding the story into something I will be proud to share with the world.  It’s going to take time, and on the way I’m going to enjoy the company of fellow writers who understand what it means to chase to a story.

Yes it’s still the same story.  Yes I’m still writing. And yes it is taking a long time.  But to me the early starts and late nights, the rewriting and the critiques are worth it.  Because whether my book is finished or not, I’m a writer.  And if I can tell my story well, this time will have been well spent.

How about you? What keeps you going for the long haul?  How do you keep yourself motivated when it seems to be taking forever?  Or do you have any tips for developing self-discipline?

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8 thoughts on “Good Things Take Time

  1. Hey Raewyn – It takes AGES to write a novel. I remember one time when one of my novels was published and my brother said, ‘Aw, that one. Were’nt you writing that about five years ago?’ Yes I was – and with writing the entire novel, getting it edited and all that comes along with that, it takes a long time.
    You are so right – good thing take time 🙂 Best of luck!

  2. Thanks Dianne – there’s nothing quite like family to call it like they see it! Mine are really supportive too, but as the years tick by they are still waiting to see the finished product… Congratulations on staying the course!

  3. “Having a goal is a great thing, but you have to love what you do if you want to stay the distance.” Absolutely! I *thought* I was done with my book months ago. I have my agent list ready, my query polished, and I’m currently still hamering away at Chapter One to get it as close to perfect as I can. Something was missing. I believe I started this book at least three years ago…if not longer. The memory is hazy.

    I’m beginning to feel like I’m in an ice bath. That might be more fun. ;p

    1. LOL… I never thought of the ice bath being an appealing alternative. I’m getting a sinking feeling my timeframes are way too optomistic. But worth it. Best of luck with your queries and that all so important first chapter!

  4. It’s funny you should mention running, because that’s where I developed the stubbornness and refusal to quit that allows me to write fast when I need to, and to just keep writing when I need to. 15k in a day to win NaNo seems easy after running 20 laps around a track by yourself in brutal heat and humidity.

    I guess it comes down to being able to be accountable only to yourself without quitting. And for that, loving what you do is very important.

    1. I think stubborness and a refusal to quit are essential attitudes when it comes to writing (and life sometimes *sighs*). I know I always feel better when I’ve set myself a goal I’ve had to push myself to reach. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Once again, I agree with you 🙂 Writing a novel takes time, and I’m always suspiscious when I read fellow writers saying on their blog that they’ve finished their novel in 6 weeks, edited it in 2 weeks and are now ready to send it out into the world. Maybe it’s going to work out for them this way, but it’s not my process at all. It took me 8 months to write the first draft of my current WIP The Last Queen. Since I have written a revised draft, and I am now in the process of editing this 2d draft. I may be slow, but as you say, it will be time well spent if I get published one day…

    1. LOL – it’s good to come across a kindred spirit! I also came across a lot of people who seem to be able to churn books out really quickly and initially thought I should be able to do the same. It helped once I had a good idea of how the industry worked, what was expected (especially from new authors) and I came to understand how my writing process worked. I have the hugest respect for people who work hard to get what they want. Well done for putting in the hard work now – it will no doubt pay off. Best of luck and I look forward to buying the finished product when it’s done!

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