Fiction and Fantasy

Don’t Take Fifteen Years to Write a Book

What the title says. Don’t do it. Don’t write a book over the course of fifteen years. It’ll save you a major migraine later in life.

Or at least, if you’re going to work on a book for more than fifteen years, make sure it’s fifteen years in a row of constant work. Don’t take multiple-month breaks because you don’t feel inspired.

My notes for The Victor’s Blade are a mess. And they’re a mess because 1) there’s so many of them (content developed over the course of fifteen years will do that), and because 2) there’s so many versions of them. I guess content developed over the course of a bajillion breaks will do that, too.

I mentioned in “5 Things I Hate About Being a Writer” how many different ways I’ve created to keep track of my book ideas. It’s a lot. Long outlines and short outlines and chronological sequences of events and timelines… it was a mess. It was too much. So lately I’ve been taking some time off writing to organize my notes. It makes it a lot easier to write when I know where I’m going. And it’s a lot easier to know where I’m going when I can just easily glance at my notes.

Glancing at my notes hasn’t been easy: not when I need to skim through at least three different documents just to see if there’s some idea or plot point I need to touch on. Remember how I mentioned how hard it was to keep up with subplots? Yep. I’m dealing with that right now.

I almost feel a little guilty that my notes are all over the place. I used to think if an author didn’t keep the details of their own stories straight, it meant they didn’t care enough about their stories to begin with. Now that I am that author who keeps uncovering conflicting ideas in her plot plans, it’s safe to say I don’t subscribe to that thought any more.

At least I’m looking for those conflicting details, right? Right? Ehhhh…

A lot of the stuff I’m planning won’t even make it into The Victor’s Blade, just like how much of what J. R. R. Tolkien planned for The Lord of the Rings didn’t make it into the trilogy proper. There’s a lot of worldbuilding stuff that would be silly for me to include in this particular story, but it’s no less vital to, well, build the world of The Victor’s Blade.

But sometimes I worry much of my book is too complicated. What if this plot point doesn’t make sense? Will readers understand what this character is trying to say? Are all these details weighing down this arc?

For now, I’m trying not to worry about that. I have to focus on one problem at a time.

And lately, that one problem is cleaning up these over-complicated notes. Once I do that, I can solidify my outline. And once I know where to go, writing is a piece of cake.

In theory. I may still hit a brick wall of writer’s block. Ughhhhh…

One thing at a time, Jeannette. Just one thing at a time.

For Him, to Him


  1. I feel you even though it hasn't been that long of a wait for me. I feel like it's been taking forever with these 4 years writing all of my stuff.

  2. 4 years is a long time! That's about how long it takes for an entire Triple-A video game to go through development! It can especially feel like forever when you find yourself stuck and unable to move forward with your project on the timetable you had planned.

  3. I never thought of it that way. WOW! I was stuck in trying to edit everything and making covers.

  4. I've heard from many authors that while the first draft is the hardest part, editing is the one that takes the most time, so I believe it!

  5. Definitely. I've known that from my NaNoWriMo exploits. Editing can take forever especially when you don't always have an editor ready.

  6. Approximately how much time (percentage-wise) do you set aside for editing at the end of a Nano?

  7. That's a tough question. I would certainly say more than writing the whole thing because I go through multiple drafts.

  8. Wow! That's crazy! More reason for me to respect you and so many others who have completed multiple Nanos!

  9. Thanks! It's such a tough process, but it needs to be done.

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