When to Give Up on Writing a Book, and When Not To (post by Anna)
How long is too long when it comes to writing a book? Is the story worthless if the author needs more than six months to write it? A year? Five years? It’s one thing to give up on a book because you realize the story just isn’t working, but I’ve heard writers say they ditched a book simply because it was taking “too long” to write.
While thinking about this post, I came across two articles about this very topic I’d like to share, both written by writers who have struggled with the concept of “too long”:
I, too, have struggled with the decision of whether to junk a book based on how many months/years/lifetimes I’d spent working on it. In this era of quickie writing — 140-character tweets, text messages, etc. — it seems quantity and speed outweigh quality and care. Yet bestseller lists frequently include books that required years to conceive, craft, and polish.
When I started writing the previous sentence, I typed “perfect” instead of “polish.” Then I realized that was the wrong connotation. Perfect books do not exist, therefore writers shouldn’t try to perfect (as in make flawless) their manuscript, but instead work to polish them (as in smooth out the rough spots). My first romance, Willpower, took twelve years to achieve publication. I first wrote it in 2001, set it aside for the next decade, and finally polished it up for 2013 release. I don’t regret the path this book traveled to publication, or how long it took to get there.
Another book, my unpublished and award-winning paranormal romance The Mortal Falls, has been in the polishing stage for two years. Life kept throwing up roadblocks, and then this year I set aside all other projects to finish Dangerous in a Kilt (It releases December 16! Yay!). Despite the delays, I’ve resolved to at last complete The Mortal Falls.
By the way, Dangerous in a Kilt demanded nearly a year of my time. That book is also an award-winner and has been named a Top Pick by The Romance Reviews. If I’d subscribed to the “too long” philosophy of writing, I might’ve given up on all three of these books. Instead, I accept that some stories need longer to grow and mature before they bear fruit. And what sweet fruit it is.