Have you finished writing your book? A phrase ‘we’ as aspiring writers are far too familiar with. Most people assume that writing a novel is an easy and quick task, over and done with in a matter of weeks. What they are failing to comprehend is the sheer volume of planning, drafting, re-drafting and polishing that needs to occur before a book can even be considered for publication. Don’t kid yourself, if you want to write a novel in order to gain instant cash, you will give up before that book even hits the shelf. A good book is a product of love, focus and long hours, it is not the result of something thrown together just for the sake of making big bucks.
Once upon a time, I was that person. The person that thought I could get a book done in a few months. Well, I did, for my first ever novel. It’s not a book I’d recommend you read though. The point is, a really good book, a quality piece of work, takes time and effort culminating in a story that inspires and touches people’s lives. It’s not something you can put together overnight. If you’re a full time writer, as in writing is the main form in which you make your living, then it will probably take you a much shorter period of time to get your novel written, depending on how serious and disciplined you are. But if you have to fit writing around your main work hours, then it’s going to take a lot more effort and dedication, and many more months to come before you even get the first draft completed.
This is not to discourage you. Au contraire. In fact, this is to make you realise just how much work goes into making the final product and if like me, you love a challenge, you’re going to step up your game. If you are feeling discouraged, chances are you were looking for a way to make easy money and have been veered away. If you are a serious writer then you are truly passionate about writing and will know that it is not the end product that counts, rather the chance to put that pen to paper (or as we do in our modern world, put fingers to keyboard) and create something magical.
Let me break down the writing process. Note that this will vary from author to author but the general process goes a little something like this. First an idea hits you. You jot that idea down, work on some other things. You think up on that initial thought and more ideas hit you. You write those ideas down and begin to make a plan. You create the characters and the world in which they live. You flesh everything out. Now you’re ready to begin writing. But first, you must decide on the tone and genre of your story. Once you have that figured out, you write your first draft. The first draft will either surprise you by how quickly you get it done or by how long it takes you to complete. If you managed to complete the first draft very quickly, chances are there will be lots of holes in your story that you’ll need to fix. This means going back to the drawing board and looking for things that need to be either removed, adjusted or changed. Sometimes, one of your characters may need to go. Perhaps they don’t serve the plot. Or there may be something in the plot itself that doesn’t make sense. This may need reconsideration.
So you fix those problems. Now what? The story still has issues you need to work around. This is usually the part where you hit writer’s block. You just don’t know how to fill the holes. So you take a few weeks off, try to gain some perspective. An idea strikes. You go back to your novel and suddenly it all makes sense. You write again. That’s the second draft completed. Phew! You give yourself a tap on the shoulder. You send it to someone close to you, ask them to read and assess it. Tell you what they think. They send it back with notes. Oh-oh, there are still problems with the story. So what does that mean? You will have to break it down again, analysing every line, every bit of dialogue, until it all makes perfect sense and flows like a river to the sea. Then, you’ll have to write a third draft.
So you see, the reality of it all is that writing a book is a much more daunting task than most people have been led to believe. If you are considering starting a book, you have my approval, just make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. If you want to be a serious writer, just know that it’s going to take many months, possibly even years, to get your book finished. But if you’re passionate about the story you have created, there is no reason why those long enduring months or years should not be worthwhile. As for that pending question – (Remember? The one about whether you’ve finished your book) – you’ll just have to reiterate the answer with a big, disappointing “nope, still not done”.
Thanks for reading ladies and gents! Get writing.