A couple of days ago I set an “official release date” for Valkyrie, October 19th. I was so excited. I’d done a new work flow and I was SURE that I could do this.
The very next day the writing ground to a halt. I got some words in, but it was a struggle. And I realized just how much pressure I was putting on this book. I love this book. I wish it was published yesterday. I’m so insanely unbelievably excited to share this story with my readers. But… it takes as long as it takes.
Also this is a LONG book for me. It takes a lot of stamina and staying power to write a 100k word book. And I admire the hell out of writers who do that over and over again. My comfort zone is 60-70k for a book. rarely a little more. I’ve never written a book this freaking long in my life.
But I can’t leave out things the book needs. Though if you expect this is some “new thing” where I’m going to be writing 100k word tomes all the time… LOLOLOLOL no. It’s just too big of a project.
A longer book takes longer to write, to reread, to edit. Almost every part of the process is affected by the unwieldy size of it.
I’m an extremely impatient person by nature, which makes one wonder why I would get into an industry like publishing where everything is so fucking slow. Even if you speed things up with self publishing it takes TIME to write a book, edit it, format it, publish it, and promote it. And it takes time… years and many books usually to build a career. It’s really not the kind of career path that would be an obvious match for someone as impatient as me.
I’ve been publishing for fourteen years and deep down I have ALWAYS KNOWN I cannot produce well on a deadline. Like at all. The creative process doesn’t work that way for me. Now I can have internal projections and “how I would like it to go” but announcing a deadline to the outer world that I am somehow obligated to deliver on is a big fat no.
I mean there is no reality in which I’m going to harm my health to give you a book, because it’s in my long term interest and yours as a reader for me to be fit enough to keep writing books, not just this one. There is no reality in which I’m going to rush a book out the door before it’s finished baking to reach some arbitrary deadline. Especially not a book that is so much “the book of my heart” as this one.
I don’t think I’ve ever written a book that means more to me. So I sure as shit am not sending it out with its naked butt flapping in the wind, mooning everybody in the slow lane.
One of the reasons besides sheer impatience that I think I set these deadlines is due to marketing. There is some marketing that requires a little bit of lead time. Like you can’t release a book and five days later have all this marketing set up, so it’s always tricky to know when to start setting this up. You can project a publishing date for the book and then set up marketing around that.
Another option is you can wait until the book is complete and set up marketing and publishing at the same time but accept that some of your major marketing is coming a few weeks after the book goes live which may or may not negatively impact sales velocity.
Or you can write the book, completely finish it, then set up your marketing and HOLD the book and wait to publish it. Even though this is probably the wisest of all options, given my nature, we can see why this is such a challenge. When a book is done I want to share it with you. NOW. I’ve wanted to share it with you since I wrote the first paragraph.
So, here we are. I could still meet that date if the stars align, but I’m not counting on it. I’m hoping by the end of October, but if that doesn’t happen, I have contingency plans. Either way I’ve made a vow to only write 8 minutes a day UNLESS the words are coming at me so fast I have to write them or lose them. I’m not going to sit in front of a screen and push myself and push the book and add to the stress of this entire process.
I think I’ve got about 10k words left, but I’m not sure because it was 12,500 words 5k word ago. It keeps expanding, though the expansion is slowing. Usually when I’m this close to the end I can blitz out the rest in a couple of days, but that’s just not how this particular book is working and if I force it, I risk burnout, which isn’t good for me, you, or the book.
This is an official honest to gods vow which I made to the writing gods and is good through Monday so I can regroup, though likely this is going to be the strategy… 8 minutes or inspiration until the book is done. This will actually turn the tap back on. The reason to do 8 minutes and not take days off is days off build up writer’s block and 8 minutes with no production pressure isn’t stressful. I literally don’t care if I write 10 words. It ticks the box and I engaged with the story for the minimum length of time.
I’ve already done my 8 minutes today (before I got out of bed this morning.) 240 words. It’s small, but an important part of characterization.
I know many authors swear by deadlines. And I know some traditionally published authors have no choice, but I think I’m going to stop doing them altogether. I’ll keep readers updated on general progress but I probably shouldn’t announce a release date until the book is at least written and edited.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk.