Writing anything is a lengthy process that requires a lot of patience and diligence. One of the biggest challenges that new writers face is dealing with the adjustment between excitement and difficulty that invariably sets in after the initial rush of creative energy fades.

We all know that feeling: You start off with a flash of inspiration, you sail into the first few hundred words or the first stages of plotting in a frenzy of excitement. And then you stall. Your narrative starts to get complex, a paragraph seems weak and uninspired to you and all of a sudden every word seems suspect, your plotting hits a wall around chapter 20 and you can’t see any way to bridge the gap.

It takes time to right the ship. It takes time to figure out what went wrong or if anything actually did go wrong and you’re not just doubting yourself for no reason. And then it takes time to link everything back up.

It takes time to write the first draft. Time to get feedback on it, to let it marinate in your Drawer of Dubious Ideas until you’re somewhat certain it’s not half-bad. Then it takes time to revise, to polish. Then it takes time to convince someone it’s worth going out on, or to convince readers that your new book is worth their money.

The Long and Winding Road (Is a Terrible Song)

It all takes enormous amounts of time. I first had the idea for Writing Without Rules sitting in my agent’s office sipping bourbon with her in February of 2016. We didn’t finalize the proposal until October, and I didn’t start writing the book until January 2017. I didn’t have a final draft to send to the publisher until May, more than a year after the initial idea. I still haven’t seen copy-edits, so the book’s not done yet, and the pub date is officially May 2018—more than two years after the initial idea.

And this has actually been one of the fastest roads from idea to published book I’ve ever experienced.

This is one reason why chasing trends is fruitless. Even if you’re in the habit of slapping unrevised, raw zero-draft books onto your DIY digital platforms of choice, the delay between your inspiration and delivery of a salable book is just too long. I don’t know about you, but the fastest I’ve ever written a complete novel from idea to THE END was three months, and I was a much younger man and the novel itself was garbage. Have brilliant novels been written much faster? Of course they have—and yet there’s always the delays of review, revision, and the other hard work.

In other words, settle in, it’s going to be a long ride.

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