People think writers have a burst of brilliance and then we sit down at the computer and the stories pour out. When the idea for a book comes along and it's a good one, you have to stop and think about what company would want to publish this idea. Is there a market for it? How did these characters get into this predicament? How do I get them out? Is there enough conflict to last four hundred pages? Do I like these people enough to spend six months with them?
I admit, I'm an anal plotter and I spend months plotting a book. Then I spend several weeks researching, picking out names, doing a story board before I ever sit down at the computer and put those first words on the page. I envy the ladies/gents who are pansters and just sit down and write. I have blinking cursor syndrome when I try to write without my road map.
Once I have the road map, my first draft is down and dirty. I can usually write a first draft in two months. Then I spend another 2-4 months cleaning up that down and dirty first draft and giving it to my critique partners to point out the errors of my thinking. "Did you really mean for your hero to be such a jerk that no woman would want him?"
Then I let the manuscript percolate for awhile. Time away from a story always gives me a fresh perspective and when I come back, I make more changes. Then I enter it in several contests where it's either loved or rejected and I do more edits. It's only after this long process that I consider sending it off to an editor or an agent. By now I'm usually eight-ten months into writing this story.
This may sound like a tedious process to many writers/readers, but I love it. I listened to Sharon Sala at an RWA session on CD the other day and she talked about being addicted to writing. I admit I'm so addicted that I need a twelve step program. I love to let the words pour out onto my computer screen. The movie plays in my head and my fingers translate the story onto paper. The first draft is raw, but usually the ebb and flow of the scenes and the plot is there from my story board. And when something comes into the story that I didn't expect, it's bonus round and I've hit the writing jackpot.
I've been seriously writing for twenty years and have nine sales, a lot of near misses and working on book fifteen. But I didn't start out plotting this way and through the years, I've learned from many good teachers and critique partners.
The biggest lesson I've learned is that we each have to find our own way to write a book and the process is never easy.
But if you never sit down at the computer/typewriter/notepad, you won't finish a story. So however you write, do it daily. Make writing a habit and soon you'll get into a writing zone where your brilliant story will pour out onto the paper and readers will think you're brilliant and it was so easy! And only you will know how difficult that plot was, how those characters drove you crazy, and you can't wait to start the process all over again.
So how much time do you devote to writing each day, week or month? How long does it take you to complete a project?