As I navigate back-to-back deadlines for 5 upcoming books in 2013, I opened Christi Barth’s blog post with avid interest. After reading how she figured out how to write fast, I knew she was my new heroine.
Why You’ve Got To Learn To Write Fast
When I decided to set my sights on becoming a published author, one of the first bits of advice I learned was to ACT like a published author. And under that heading came the ‘rule’ that it should only take six months to write a romance. Rule is, obviously, a loose term, but it was accompanied by dire warnings that NY publishers would contract turnarounds of six months, so you’d darn well better be able to do it. So I did. Gave me plenty of time to write, watch TONS of television, read, and promote my books as they came out. And then (ominous drum roll, please)…I signed a four book contract with Carina Press in January. They let me set my own deadlines (within reason) for the single title trilogy, but there was the pesky matter of a Christmas novella. It was due before book #2. It scared the pants off of me (mostly because I’d never written anything that short and didn’t see it as possible). None of these books, aside from book #1, were anything more than a single sentence idea. Major amounts of plotting and synopsis writing had to occur.
Sure, I’d given myself five months to write book #2. But smack dab in the middle of that time period, I was supposed to magically produce a novella. How to find the time? How would I write two books at once? How on earth did people do this? Especially when I came down with pneumonia and didn’t have the energy to change the remote?
My answer? Panic is the ultimate motivator. My whole life I’ve been a world-class procrastinator. Working under a tight deadline focuses me like nothing else. Suddenly, I didn’t have that luxury anymore. I couldn’t write to deadline, in case something went wrong. In case life interfered. In case my beta readers said it sucked. In case, having never written a series before, I couldn’t figure out how to make it happen. (I promise this post has a happy ending).
Did I write when I had pneumonia? You bet. Not those first horrible two days. But days when I still had a fever and going all the way to the bathroom felt like a grand excursion, I met my word count. I cut back on half of my tv shows (that may not sound like a great sacrifice to some of you, but trust me, it was!). Stopped watching Netflix w/my hubby at night. In other words, I buckled down.
While I admire those of you who can switch back and forth between manuscripts, I wasn’t that brave. I put book #2 on hold and switched to Christmas. The novella was due in May. I turned it in two months early. Turned in book #2 a month early. Turned in synopsis and first three chapters of book #3 a month early. Felt so cocky about how far ahead I’d gotten that I (potentially ominous drum roll) decided to write the funny beach caper story that had been kicking around in my head for the last two years. Did I still have a contracted deadline on book #2 to meet? Yup. Instead, I spent a month churning out 45,000 words of sun, sand and sex.
Authors hate having an uncontracted book cluttering up a computer, right? So I still didn’t return to writing book #3. Instead, I wrote up a blurb and whisked the beach book off to my editor. Spent another week on a synopsis and blurb for an unplanned book #4 in my series. Did I have time for these flights of fancy? Some would say no. Some might say fulfill your contracts first. On the other hand, some would say that publishing is changing dramatically. Writers no longer can rely on putting out a single book a year. Volume—quality volume, of course—makes a difference.
Did I break out in emotional hives at the end of September when I realized there was no longer any wiggle room in my writing schedule for book #3? You bet! Did I feel semi-justified in my choices when I sold both of those unplanned books to my editor in October? You bet! Did I turn into a non-responsive grouch for two weeks as I raced to finish book #3? You bet! (My husband would be more than willing to give you chapter and verse on that). Will churning out 291,000 words in eleven months (writing another xmas novella this month) make a difference in both readership and royalties next year? I certainly hope so.
Am I tired? You bet. Let’s not forget I also squeezed in two book releases with all the ensuing promotion, attended two conferences and a three day book festival. But it made me a better writer. Although I’ve always been a plotter, I upped those skills exponentially. Every night at the gym, I’d plan exactly what would happen in the next 1,000 words, so as not to waste any time at the actual keyboard. I plotted the next book on the schedule long before I started to write it. Best of all, I grabbed with both hands at every opportunity that came my way. I think that’s my biggest take-away. You’d darn well better learn to write fast, because you never know what may come your way. And you don’t want to miss it.
Do you have any tricks for writing fast? Do you have questions about how Christi did it?
On Friday, author Grace Burrowes talks about writing the Christmas story.
Ask Her At Christmas:
Caitlin McIntyre’s heart stops when her best friend drops to one knee and proposes. Kyle Lockhart never once hinted over the years that he has any idea she’s in love with him. Not wanting to jeopardize their friendship, she’s never let it slip. Good thing, too, since it turns out he’s only practicing—he’s about to propose to someone else.
A business merger might not be the most romantic reason to propose to a woman he barely knows, but Kyle’s determined to win the respect of the dying father who’s never seen him as quite good enough. Kyle’s always depended on Caitlin’s friendship, while trying to ignore the physical response she arouses. So he turns to her when it comes time to craft his proposal, not realizing his decision will affect their relationship, forever.
This Christmas, Kyle and Caitlin get one last chance to admit their feelings for each other, and find a mutual happily ever after, before he commits his life to another woman and Caitlin leaves town and him…for good.
Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.
- Weekly Lecture Schedule, December 17-21, 2012
- The (Mixed) Blessings of the Christmas Romance with Grace Burrowes
- Hold Your Nose and Type – The Upside of Writing Fast with Ruth Harris
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for July 19-23: Small Publishers, Gender Affairs & e-Publishers
- Special Event – Pitch to Heather Howland, Managing Editor, Entangled Publishing