Slow progress is still progress

Have you ever finished a book and been so excited for the writer’s next one that you go look up when their next one is coming out… and it’s two years from now? Or worse, they don’t have a new release scheduled at all? And do you ever want to just, I don’t know, call them up and ask them if they’re working on another book and can they please hurry because you need it now?

Yeah, I know that feeling. Which brings me to the novel I’m working on revising.

Now, I’m not saying anyone’s waiting on pins and needles for me to write something new. What I am saying is that some writers write like the wind, the words just pouring off their fingers, and my hat is off to them! Some writers write like each word is pulled out of sludge, refusing to come loose.

You can probably guess which kind of writer I am. But my hat is off to them, too!

If I’ve learned anything from my own process, it’s that there’s no one right way to be a writer.

Sometimes progress doesn’t look like a whole lot from the outside. This time of year, when I’m teaching in addition to the day job, it usually goes slowly. 

So. Slowly. 

Out of 316 manuscript pages, I’ve revised 75. Some days, I’ll be honest, I don’t work on it.

One thing I do try to do at least every day is touch the manuscript. Yes, literally. I pick up the stack of papers and look at it. Maybe I read down the first page, which is the one I last worked on. Maybe I flip through a few pages and look at the notes I’ve scrawled in the margins.

What I’m doing is trying to keep myself in the story until I do have time to devote to it more intensively. Hopefully, that will be next week, which is Spring Break at the university where I teach and so I’ll be faced with a little more free time.

I was listening to a podcast the other morning called The Publishing Rodeo, and they were interviewing a writer who’d started as a bookseller and later worked in publishing before turning to his own stories. Something he said stuck with me for the rest of the morning, and I kept thinking back on it (I’m paraphrasing): if you’re going to be a writer, learn to love the process. So much of everything else is out of your control.

I can relate to this feeling, and yet I also think there’s a lot that is in my control. And if I don’t like the things that are out of my control, then I’ll do what I can to change my situation.

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