In the past, I've had a lot of trouble with staying focused and being disciplined when it came to writing. I had thought writing was something people do when they’re feeling creative and inspired. New York Times Bestsellers probably wrote every day, but they made a living writing. I wrote when I thought about it, and I loved it when I did. But I'll admit it. It wasn’t something I did on a regular basis. I loved my characters and thought about them a lot, and I thought about new ideas constantly. I'd even start writing out the stories connected to those ideas. Needless to say, I now have about five or more partials for novel-length works. Most of those are around twenty thousand words so far.
My answer to writer's block is I don’t believe in it. Most time when I’m “blocked,” I just need to focus that much more to break through it. For example, last year during National Novel Writing Month, I found myself very behind in my word count, making it very hard to think about trying to finish. I ended up flying through after a few thousand words because I put so much focus into the story that I lived it for a few days (aka I didn't practice being disciplined at the front end, so I had to make up for it at the back end. 30k words in 3 days... I learned my lesson). That doesn’t mean there can’t be actual problems going on when a writer is stuck. I've experienced where I have to stop and think about what's going on, and really figure out where the story needs to go. But then continue on.
Some well-known bestselling authors write their first draft quickly, and then go back and make sense of the manuscript (Nora Roberts, for example). Stephen King in his book, On Writing, suggests three months for this process of writing your book. Harlequin recently had a Book in 3 Month Challenge, which also says that three months is "an average professional speed--two months to write, one month to edit and submit." I now try to stick by the three month goal.
Before completing my first manuscript with the help of National Novel Writing Month, I didn’t understand. Why would I want to hurry through such an important step? During NaNoWriMo, you have to turn off your internal editor and lock her in the closet. If you don’t, you simply won’t be able to write fifty thousand words in one month.
Sometimes writers get bogged down with trying to make everything perfect on the first time through, but if the first draft doesn’t get done, you won’t make it to the second draft. And you can't edit a blank page. Sitting down and writing every day is important. Not only does it give you a finished product, but with the continuous practice of your craft you're honing skills to make your work the best it can be. Discipline when writing, or pursuing anything else they desire in life, is so necessary.
What are your thoughts on writer's block? Do you sit down and write through it? How long do you take to write a novel?
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