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!”
“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…”
“Yes, it’s going well.”
“Does blogging count as writing?”
*Bangs head on desk.*
“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?