“Are you published yet?”
This may be the writer’s least-favorite question from non-writing friends. Or perhaps it comes in second to, “How long does it take you to write a book?” Wow, does that depend on so many factors.
The question writers are more likely to ask each other is, “How do you cope with the waiting?” Because so much in publishing is about waiting. Waiting on feedback from beta readers and critique partners. Waiting on responses to agent queries. Then waiting on editorial feedback from your agent. Then waiting on editor’s responses to submissions. Then…
You get the idea. Writers wait a lot. So you need a coping strategy, especially if you’re as impatient and twitchy a person as I am.
My coping strategy is to write more. Production of what is (hopefully) my debut novel, ACTING UP, was followed by writing METHOD ACTING. I recently finished initial revisions on the third book, ACTING LESSONS and sent it off to my beta readers. LESSONS was, for a lot of reasons, a difficult book to write (which isn’t to say it’s not fun to read–hopefully. It just came out much more slowly than any other manuscript I’ve ever written before. I cut my usual 1,000 word/day goal in half and still struggled some days).
So having that book in my rear-view (for now, until beta reads and critique partner feedback starts coming back and I begin to re-revise), I embarked on a new project, FAST ACTING. This is a novella that foregrounds the good friends of the protagonists in METHOD.
It’s a project that’s living up to its name. Folks, this one has been super fun to write so far. A fun, flirty story between two wedding guests at an intimate destination wedding? A perfect follow-up to a more difficult project.
And as much as I hate the “How long does it take?” question, I do keep track of word counts and timing. I see this as practice for when (hopefully) I have externally imposed deadlines. I want to know what I’m capable of, what is realistic, and (very importantly) what isn’t. What I can promise and what I can’t. Also, setting my own deadlines is an exercise in professionalism.
As much as I love Scrivener’s word count tool for daily and overall goals, I’ve found Pacemaker’s more flexible and visual tools to be a valuable tool for charting historical output and tracking your progress. It has a nifty share-able widget. So if you’re interested in following the progress of a novella, by all means, follow the bouncing ball…