I have attended all sorts of classes related to writing. I’ve gone to workshops on how to get published. I’ve sat through panels about marketing. Heck, I’ve taught a few sessions in my time—classes about writing a novel, classes about writing a paranormal novel, even a recent one about self-publishing. But in all my years of listening to writers, reading about the publishing industry, seeking out tips on how to improve my craft, I have never found the secret to the one thing I wish I could master: how to speed up my own process.
Yesterday, I made a belated announcement that 2019 would not see the release of a new Bridgeton Park Cemetery book. I held off on putting that statement out into the world because I was still hoping, very unrealistically as it turns out, that I could still pull a completed novel out of my hat before we reached 2020. Not happening.
Part of the problem has been a change in my schedule. I’ve lost twenty hours of free time a week, which may not sound like much but is actually a complete game changer. It’s not just the writing time that’s missing for me; I’m also missing time to do everything around the house that needs doing. So if my housework/chore/daily upkeep time is crunched, my writing time is even more so. And not only that, changing hats from my daily job to my particular world of fiction isn’t always that easy a transition. If only I were just changing hats. But it’s actually a matter of changing my mindset, and it’s not always so easy to switch gears from what’s going on at the office to what’s going on with Cassie and Michael.
I’m also dealing with a chronic health issue that’s been going on for a year, now, and maybe I’m getting close to resolving it, but I won’t know that for sure for another couple of months, or so. Sigh.
Writing this to depress any of you is not my goal. It’s basically me just mulling over what happened during the last part of 2019 and realizing why the book didn’t get finished, even though I’m nearly halfway through it. At least, I hope I am.
So I really wish that I could find a way to speed up my writing process. I’ve never been very fast at putting a novel down on paper. I think it’s because for most of my life, I was always writing around an imposed schedule: the amount of time when I could sit down and write out a novel-length story was limited and only available to me in fits and starts. The past few years, I got lucky and had a great deal of free time to work on my stories. But things have changed back to the way they used to be and now I’m scrambling to re-learn how to write in fits and starts, if that’s all the time I’ve got.
Some people just work more quickly than I do. I sooo envy Stephen King his speed. I know he has the discipline to sit down at his keyboard every single day and write, so maybe I’m actually envying his discipline. But even if I had that discipline, and believe me, there was a time there that I did, I can’t produce an encyclopedia-length tome in less than a year, or maybe more like a matter of months, the way he does it. Maybe not many writers can. Still, the writers I read seem to be able to put out at least one or two books per year, every year. I did that just once, in 2017, when I released both These Living Eyes and Touching Shadow, Stealing Light in the same year. Truth be told, my brain went fallow after that second book came out, and it took some doing to get myself back together enough to produce She Weeps. So maybe I’m really not wired to work that quickly.
Reading a novel should take the reader on a journey. I find it interesting, and possibly just a smidge ironic, that writing a novel, any novel, also takes me on a journey. I don’t mind. I just wish sometimes on my journey that I had 1) an actual map and 2) a much, much speedier process.