There’s No Rush

When I first started writing, I was in a big hurry. My dream was to be published—to be able to go into a bookstore and find my book on its hallowed shelves.

In order to achieve this goal, I constantly pushed myself to finish at least one chapter per week, to finish editing my manuscript by a given date, to send out a certain amount of query letters, whatever it might be.

It felt like if I slowed down at all, I would be standing in the way of my dream.

I remember specifically worrying that by taking too long 1. There wouldn’t be any agents or editors accepting submissions and 2. The subject matter of my novel would be out of fashion by the time I finished.

Since then, I’ve learned this: there’s no rush.

There will always be fabulous agents and editors excited to discover new work, and, worst case scenario, if your novel happens to be about a vampire/werewolf love triangle or girls on trains, put it in a drawer and wait for the trend to come round again. Someday that thing will sell!

slothBut the most important thing I’ve learned is that the publishing industry moves very slowly.

Writing a manuscript can take years (I’m a slow writer), querying literary agents can take months if not years, working with said agent to revise a manuscript can take months, querying editors on that project can take months if not years, and then editing that project and releasing it into the wild can take months if not years.

And let me just say that waiting is the hardest part. There’s nothing quite like picturing an editor from your favorite press considering whether or not to take on your title, i.e., make your wildest dream come true.

The point is, every step of the way takes time. There’s no reason to rush through your manuscript when the rest of the process is going to take a while. It’s better to take the time necessary to make a novel shine—let it marinate for an extra month (or six!) before hopping into revisions, spend an extra week polishing one pesky scene, take a couple hours to ensure the voice is just right in a single paragraph.

Most writers are familiar with the advice to write every day. I don’t necessarily agree with this. Yes, continue making forward progress, but cut yourself a little bit of slack.

If you work hard and stick with it, your manuscript will be finished eventually, and it will be all the better for relaxing and taking extra time. Besides, writing is supposed to be fun!

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Author: Kate Lansing

I write mysteries, YA novels, and short fiction. I also read A LOT, travel as much as possible, and take way too many pictures of my cat.

18 thoughts on “There’s No Rush”

  1. My problem has been giving myself too much slack, so much so I still haven’t really gotten around to actually starting my manuscript, but some sort of happy medium between pushing yourself too hard and not pushign at all definitely sounds like the way to go

  2. I think Pottsy has the right idea – a happy medium between “breakneck speed” and “never even starting.” I’m still looking for that, by the way. 🙂

  3. Connie, good point! That’s definitely one of the advantages of self pubbing!!

    Pottsy, I agree completely that there’s gotta be a happy medium, which is SO HARD to achieve! Stephen King said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” That blank page is intimidating!!

    Kathleen, so happy to hear that!! 🙂

    Liz, gosh, that happy medium is hard to find! And even when we do, it’s easy to slip one way or the other.

    Thanks, Sam! 🙂

  4. Man, this is so true. I’m always in a rush to finish my work, usually at the last minute because I enjoy procrastinating. But I forget how much I enjoy the composition part when I do that. Art takes time.

  5. Great post, Kate. I rushed through my first 13 revisions of my first book. Ha! Seriously, though, it’s a process and we learn as we go. If I was doing it just to get published, I’d be seriously depressed on rejection letter day, but I’m at the point where I need play time with my imaginary friends frequently — if not on a daily basis.

  6. On this topic, I was ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE my book was ready to query two years ago. I’m going through it now and, um, no. Fortunately, I only got about 50 rejections in before I learned that. LOL

  7. If writing stops being fun, then what’s the point? Sometimes we have to viciously guard that fun element.

  8. Kimberly, well said! Art takes time. It really does.

    Keenan, you bring up a really good point. Although my goal is ultimately to be published, that’s definitely not enough of a reason to write. You have to do it for more than that; for your own enjoyment. And lol about the 13 drafts; totally been there o_o

    Liz, oh, the perspective time brings 🙂 I remember feeling the exact same way, like my book was the most perfect thing ever and why wasn’t anyone begging to publish it?! Fast forward a few years and I see all the ways I needed to grow as a writer, and boy am I glad my early stuff isn’t in print!

    Sue, I love that! “Viciously guard the fun element.” As Mad-Eyed Moody would say, Constant Vigilance! 😉

    Becky, your workshop sounds intriguing! Is it 8 weeks to fully complete a manuscript, editing/drafting included? Or is that to get a first draft done, kinda like NaNo? Because, while I like taking my time with my writing, I’m still a HUGE advocate for NaNoWriMo. That first draft/zero draft can be a bear!

  9. It’s all forward progress. It just depends on where it is you want to go. And how beaten up or thrilled you’ll be when you get there.

    Well done, Kate!

  10. Thanks for this post! After I got an agent for my book I panicked about writing the sequel. Well, I wrote about 100 pages before realizing writing is a lot more fun (and productive) when I go at my natural pace which is as more of a sprinter than marathon runner. I’m now taking my time and not beating myself up about it so much. Especially since it took me years to get an agent! One thing I know for sure, the publishing business it not for instant gratification seekers.

  11. Thanks, Peg and Kait!

    Thanks for your comment, Sonia! That’s awesome you’ve gotten into a natural groove. I feel like I learn something new about myself and my writing process with every manuscript. And, yes, publishing is definitely not for instant gratification seekers, nor for the faint of heart! Best of luck working on your sequel! 🙂

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