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How fast a writer are you?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by italian in japan, Apr 16, 2022.

  1. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    Hey everyone!

    So here is the question: how quickly do you wrap a book?

    I ask because, while I'm relatively fast when it comes to the process of writing itself, my edits, rewrites, re-edits, pagination, book cover, and so on seem to take forever.

    I know of a lot of writers who dish out a book/month, from first word on "paper" to ready for kindle/publication.

    I would like to be one of those guys, but I don't seem to be able to find my way out of the swamp of "getting the book ready".

    For example, my book now is going though what I hope being its final editing process (I'm working with an editor). The edits alone are taking months (probably as it should be).

    If you belong to the group of people who produce 4-10 books/year, how do you do it, aside from the writing process? Do you self-edit? Do you have editors/other professionals who work with/for you who move very quickly? Are you a one person army and do everything by yourself?

    I am now writing my 3rd book and have not even published my first because it's still going through edits. I love writing, but I also really want to get those books out there and see how they do in the wild.

    Share your tips and process! It would help a lot!
     
  2. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    If I have a deadline, I can usually pump out a short story before it. But a book takes me a lot longer. I would say I can complete a book in a year or a year and a half, if I am making it a priority, which I have not always done. I've been in writing mode for a good roll now, and I get about 1000 words a day. Though, admittedly, I dont really have a good writing spot and I still have to wait till the house goes quiet to do it.

    I've not ever made publication a priority, but if I am trying to get published, that is a whole nuther craft, which also takes times. I dont have a good system for it. But I expect I will have a type of system soon.

    I am always in edit mode it seems, but I dont hate that. I was taken out of the game by kids getting older and such. Now they are all but moved out, so...I can give proper energy to it.

    I consider myself slow, but I am accepting of that. I am also a slow reader. I would not even be able to read a book in a month. Usually takes me longer.

    BTW, I never do NANO. I dont care to write at the pace it would take to complete it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2022
  3. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Just as a second thought, but if you produce a book ready to edit once a month, and send it to an editor, and then write another and keep the cycle going, you can be working on one, while working on edits for another, and keep the pace going. Course, you may not have a life while doing so...but...have to decide what you want.
     
  4. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    that's actually kind of what I've been doing. I have not stopped writing (right now working on a 3rd book).
     
  5. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    i, too, am not too fast when it comes to writing, although i expect i'll become faster. I like the editing process, but i also think that it's potentially neverending. Every time one looks through their work, one usually tends to find things to improve. We will never be 100% satisfied. For that reason i would like to let the book go at one point, and move on.

    yeah i don't like doing NANO either
     
  6. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Inkling

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    I think this depends both on where you are in your writing career and how you publish. In the thread "Losing Interest When Writing?" I said that for me writing got serious when my publisher asked about a sequel. It got serious mostly because I suddenly had expectations to meet, in the form of a good enough sequel to keep the readers and my publisher happy. That added a lot of pressure.

    But what I also discovered was that publishers have deadlines, and that as a contracted author you have to meet them. For the first book you write it doesn't matter, you only send it off for publication (no matter how you publish) when its good enough. You have time and you're in control. But when you're on contract for a sequel you've got a deadline by which date the publishers draft has to be ready. That adds even more pressure, and I had to learn to write more quickly and with much more focus. It is hard work, and it takes self-discipline and organisation. I've never yet missed a deadline, but as I don't write for a living that means there have been some late nights and some long weekends.

    From my perspective I'd say that getting the publishers draft done in time means having a clear idea of where the story is going and why when I start to write. Without that the story doesn't get finished in time without a huge struggle. You also have to learn to accept when the story is good enough, rather than perfect. For me that means I have to be able to let the story go, knowing there were a few more bits I could have added or changed or tweaked in some way. That was difficult the first time, but I've learnt that as long as I've made the story consistent with other novels and short stories in the setting it will be good enough. Its always possible to make a few changes during the editing process prior to publication, but they won't be large changes and its usually my editor who suggests them.

    As for how long it takes me, I'm dyslexic so my timescales aren't typical. A short story will take me 4-6 weeks to write, a novel (95000 words or so) about 6-8 months. And I don't do re-drafts or re-writes, nor do I outline or self-edit. My editor is paid for by my publisher and she does the editing, and my publisher arranges the final proof reading.
     
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  7. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    " You also have to learn to accept when the story is good enough, rather than perfect. For me that means I have to be able to let the story go, knowing there were a few more bits I could have added or changed or tweaked in some way"

    I absolutely agree with this. Once upon a time i used to work as a screenwriter/ghost writer and i learned to do just that. incidentally, it's my editor who seems to be so attached to the story that he wants ot make it "perfect". it is definitely good to have someone this committed to the story working on the book, but still i would like to find that good meeting point between perfect book and time-to-let-the-book-go.

    thanks a lot for the input. We'll see how things go. i'll definitely write more in here on the topic!
     
  8. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Archmage

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    I've manage 2 books per year for the past 3 years. 3-4 months of writing, 2 of editing.

    A few things to know about the book-a-month people.

    Very few people start out that fast. They work up to it. Otherwise it's a great way to get burned out... Most of them also do it full-time, and those who manage while still working sacrifice a lot to get it done.

    The process for most is to write the book, give it only a small polish, then send it to the editor and forget about it. The editor does his thing for however long he takes. Once the manuscript comes back, the writer simply accepts all changes and publishes the book. These writers teach themselves to write clean drafts, and work with editors who they know and trust.

    They write the next book while the editor does his thing. Once the writer wrote "The End" their involvement is usually minimal.

    Also, you can write 2 50k books in the time it takes to write 1 100k book. Most book-a-month authors put out relatively short books. Not everyone, but most will be in the 40k-80k range, instead of the 100k+ range. It also takes less planning and editing.

    Not all book-a-month authors actually write a book a month. Some write a few in advance, and then publish them close together. Say you take 3 months to create a book. You write for a year (so 4 books), and then publish 1 month apart. This will let you get 5 books in 5 months (since you can keep writing while publishing), and the 6th two months later. Alternatively, you can also write with a group of people and all publish under the same name.

    In the end, it comes down to 3 things:
    - how many words per hour do you write?
    - How many hours per day do you write?
    - How much time do you spend on the editing phase?

    increase the first two and / or decrease the third and your output will go up.
     
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  9. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    thank you for the input!

    i am relatively fast as a writer, although it's hard for me to tell whether my drafts are relatively polished. i think it comes with the feeling that "it's never good enough". the editors that i am working with are just as passionate as i am and they are looking for perfection, which i know cannot be achieved.

    so, to your points, i write relatively quickly, but can probably be more polished in my first drafts.
    i dedicate 2-5 hours/day to writing or book-related work, on average 4-5 times a week. i actually enjoy it a lot and it doesn't feel much like work, so i don't really burn out (so far).
    i'd say my editing and that of my editors is what takes most of the time. to be fair, though, the book that we are editing now was my first novel attempt and it's a very convoluted high fantasy, story-wise, which certainly contributes to it being harder to edit.

    i do believe that in time, or with less complex works, things will expedite. hopefully the editors i am working with now or others i will find in the future can become the ones i trust almost blindly.

    Thank you again!
     
  10. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Archmage

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    Writing more formulaic stories will definitely speeds things up. Plotting becomes easier, writing is more straightforward, and editing is also easier since you can focus on the smaller details instead of the bigger ones.

    I should point out that I believe there's value in spending more time in editing, especially for a first novel. It teaches you a lot, but I do also believe it leads to better books. When you rush the editing, there's a chance you write more forgettable fiction, which is fine, but it means you need to keep writing new books to sell stuff, since there's always a new, shiny thing coming out. It's a bit like a summer hit pop song. It's great and catchy and after the summer is over everyone has forgotten about it. Contrast that with a timeless hit from a big band which just keeps selling. There's room in the market for both, one probably takes a lot more time then the other.

    As for blindly trusting someone, I don't think I'll do so. Firstly, it's my story, and my responsibility. I own the words on the page and will be the one questioned about them. As such I'm definitely going to read all of them and make the decision which ones to put out. Secondly, it's a learning experience. Each edit teaches you something about your writing and writing style. Assuming you'll always do the edit with an editor it's a fairly cheap lesson. You might as well make the most of it, even if it slows you down.
     
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  11. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Book a month is nonspecific... what word count? A person could release 200-250k words as one book (as I do) or 4-6 pretty easily. I'm content with 250k per year, but I see that going up in the future. Then again, if it takes 2-3 years to get a book where I want i, which is happening now... Meh. So be it. Too many other things to do in life to sit in a chair typing all day, heh heh. My shortest book at 60k-ish took about a month to write and a couple of weeks to edit.
     
  12. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    You make a good point about the editing being a writing-learning process as well.
    To your point, after making this post, I decided to dedicate as much time as possible to the editing of the first book.

    I still think it won't be perfect by my standards (since i believe that every pass you make on a book, there is something you can find that could be better). I also think at one point you need to let the book go.
    That said, with the first books, and without the pressure of actual deadlines, it serves to spend more time on edits/rewrites, since it will likely be what will make the writing process and the edits in the future, faster (for when time is actually an issue).

    Thank you!
     
  13. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    Definitely true. a lot to do in life!

    I think what got into me was the eagerness that comes when you're ALMOST done but not quite. I don't know if it happens to you right before a trip you're looking forward to, when you're all packed and ready, but still need to wait a day; or when there is only a small piece of work that needs to be completed at the end of a long week, right before a long weekend, and you try to push that project as fast as you can.

    I do get affected by that kind of excitement and sometimes tend to think about rushing things a little, just to be done with and go to the next phase.

    Writing here was also a good way for me to get out of that bubble and look at it with different lens. However long it takes, it will hopefully be worth the wait. The next step is the next step. I'd better commit to the present step fully, first.

    Thank you!
     
  14. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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  15. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  16. Bloodywake

    Bloodywake Scribe

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    Uhh I actually can't answer this question. I thought you was asking about how many words per week or so on. I have had the first novel I wrote in like a perma frost state for a while now.

    I had it at around 80k words then I was told it needed to be about 1/4 of that on another writing forum site. So I thought I was doing the right thing and cut it down and down and down some more.

    Just to get told I was actually closer to novel size the first time at around 80k sadly I can't find the backup of the original I know I have saved to a specific thumb drive that is unable to be located.

    Now I'm in fear of it not being cohesive and I am trying to re write the parts I know that I cut.
     
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  17. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    I hurt for you! i can't imagine how'd i'd feel if i cut 70% of my work, only to realize I need the cut parts after all, and not be able to find them.

    There is a time when you sort of need to come to terms with the "loss" though, and just do what you're doing: rewrite.

    If you wanna see a thin silver lining, chances are that your re-write will be better than your previous version. Sure it feels like an insurmountable path, since it's hard to shake the feeling of having lost so much, BUT... chin up and soon you'll be back on track.

    As for the length of books, there isn't a universal standard, but generally, the number of generally accepted words varies depending on genre (i.e. 80-90k for YA or 100-120k for fantasy). That said you can go beyond these "rules". when the time inevitably comes that you have to trim your work, try and focus on what brings forward the story and what doesn't. There may be some scenes you love but that objectively do not serve a real purpose.

    Definitely don't cut JUST to reach a word-number goal (although it won't hurt to find a publisher or even an editor more easily).

    Keep grinding! looking forward to hearing of your newly finished book! :)
     
  18. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Damn. Why listen to one who tells you to cut so much? Sorry you lost the original.

    I recently lost just about everything. Had my hard drive in a forensic recovery for weeks but was eventually able to recover most of what i was missing, including the current wip. Would have sucked to have to start over.
     
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  19. italian in japan

    italian in japan Scribe

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    I tend to have an external hard drive backup plus a periodic email I send to myself just in case.

    I never had a situation where I needed backup but losing my material terrifies me so yeah. In this case for me more is better
     
  20. pmmg

    pmmg Istar

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    Heh...I had a backup system actually. Just hit in the right moment to catch me unprepared. It was my own fault. But...I do computer forensics so it was just putting in a lot of work with a hex editor. Still lost a lot, but I dont seem to care about the other stuff.
     
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