The second you get an idea for a story, you wish it could simply write itself.
No matter how much we love to write, we’ve all had this thought more than once. Because it would just be so much … easier … if we could snap our fingers and have a finished, polished, totally publishable novel in a matter of seconds.
After all, that’s how it seems to work from the outside looking in. An author mentions they’re working on a book, and the next thing you know, it has a release date and you can pre-order it from Barnes & Noble.
But that’s not how it really goes. You know this. It’s just easy to forget, in those moments you’re sitting in front of your imperfect draft wondering if continuing is even worth it.
Many of you reading this now have a pretty good idea of the typical steps involved. It’s not just getting an idea for a book one day and submitting it to a publisher (or whatever your chosen method of outreach) the next.
First you probably end up way overthinking even the most basic fragments of your story.
And then, for some reason, details like characters’ names, dates, locations, and things that might not matter much — at least in the beginning — take up way too much of your creative energy.
Then you start/continue writing … and it feels like you’re stuck in that stage for a long, long time.
You doubt if anything you’re dumping onto literal or figurative paper even makes sense.
You stop trying to correct your own spelling and grammar because you’re a little bit disgusted with yourself, to be honest.
You get on a roll … and then you start noticing major flaws in your story. And you have to decide whether to go back and fix them now or just keep writing and worry about making improvements later.
More writing. Your spelling isn’t getting any better — in fact, it might be getting worse.
You hit walls. You take breaks. You crash through those walls and … yeah, you’re still writing.
Days, weeks, months … even years go by. How are you still writing?
And even when you “finish” your first draft … you have to reread everything you wrote.
Then come the revisions. All your attempts to make things better, more entertaining … PUBLISHABLE.
But the cool thing is, if you just keep taking things a day at a time, eventually, you end up writing a book. Something a surprising number of people never do, even though they try to.
It does not, cannot, will not, happen in a day.
It might seem like everyone can write a book. But not everyone will. And even those that do don’t do it without some struggling. Your pace, your fluctuating levels of drive and determination, they don’t matter beyond the fact that you’re doing the absolute best you can.
Writing a book takes a long time because it’s a very difficult thing to do.
Don’t rush. Don’t be too hard on yourself when it doesn’t feel like you’re making much progress. Just keep writing. It’s not always that “easy.” But it IS necessary. Write, and you will be rewarded. Maybe not today or next month or within a few years. But you’ll be glad you didn’t quit.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.