Being Patient

Being passionate people, writers are impatient. We want the manuscript written. We want the editing done. We want the book on shelves around the world. We want the movie made. We want, we want, we want! And all this wanting is a good thing. It’s important, and it’s healthy. I’m not going to say otherwise, but I will say this: step back and take a breath.

The process of writing and publishing takes time. As excited as we are for publishing, we need to make sure every step is right. Much like any work of art, books take awhile to put together properly. Our instincts want us to rush ahead and get it all done sooner rather than later. Our hopes and dreams for big sales and, maybe, fame drive us to think unrealistically about our publishing timeline.

Writing your first draft can, as NaNoWriMo has proven, take a month or less, depending on how many words you write per day and how long your manuscript is. However, editing takes a bit longer. It’ll be several rounds of self-editing and maybe at least one run-through with a professional editor. And that takes time. As much as our hearts don’t like to take the slow road, in this case it really is slow and steady who wins the race.

Our first draft is a caffeine-induced roller-coaster ride of adrenaline and inspiration. Most of the time. We sometimes get stuck or have times where we throw up our hands, but it is (at least to me) the easiest part of the process. After we hit the end, the wind leaves us. We ride the high—the thrill—of completion for awhile, but editing is a long, arduous, painful process by nature. Much crying and screaming and gnashing of teeth. That does not mean, however, we can shirk it. It must be done because the first draft of anything is complete crap—to paraphrase Hemmingway.

After your own work it’s another hurry-up-and-wait experience for authors. Keep in mind most publishers usually take at least a year of lead time before publishing a book. That means they have time to edit the manuscript to their satisfaction (a rush job means mistakes), typeset it well, have a solid cover-design and do pre-release marketing. All of that takes time, and even if you’re self-publishing you should be taking those steps at a similar pace. It may even take you longer because you’re going to have to find and select your team rather than work with a team of in-house folks the publisher has already vetted.

Either way you go about it, don’t despair that things will take awhile. Take a breath and enjoy the ride if you can. Don’t be in such a rush that you lose sight of the end goal: the best work you can create.

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