The Unexpected thing writing my first book taught me

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If you were to Google how to write a novel, the top ten search results would probably focus on completing a novel in a year, 6 months, or even in 90 days. For whatever reason, new writers think good writing is supposed to happen fast. I'm here to tell you it doesn't always happen that way, at least not the first time around.

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I probably rewrote my debut novel five or six times. And when I say rewrote, I mean from page one to THE END rewrote. I actually wrote it in a few months. The first draft pratically flew out of my printer, but the revisions, more accurately, the revisioning of the true story I wanted to tell - that took the better part of a decade. Yep. I said a decade, but this wasn't a decade of rising at dawn and writing every day. I had a family to raise, I was working, teaching, in graduate school, just to name a few of my daily excuses for not writing. I kept putting the manuscript down for weeks, months, and even years at a time. And each time I picked it back up, I was a different person with new experiences and perspectives, and ultimately a different writer, so I had to go back to the beginning and rewrite.

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And each time I rewrote, pushing back any possiblitiy of publication, I beat up on myself something awful. I kept seeing other writers who started writing after me, or around the same time I did, finishing and  publishing, moving on to new projects and finishing those and publishing...etc. Writer Envy is a real thing. Trust. I'm not going to lie, it got rough, but when I was finally able to see my intentions fully realized on the page, it was all worth it. You would have a tough time identifying my first draft  and my published novel as being written by the same author, because in many ways, they weren't.

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Because this was my process, doesn't mean it will be yours. I needed to write and rewrite to clarify my intention for the story. Some writers can see it from beginning to end, or can work it out on the way, but that simply wasn't the case with me. Because I took the time and practiced patience until I was pretty damn good at it (patience), I not only got a little book that I'm proud of and will probably still be proud of in twenty years, I also have a much clearer understanding of how I create. I know my process. So what does all this mean for you? The first time around is a magical and tough journey. Don't let outside pressure determine the work you release into the world. We each have our own personal process and method for approaching our art. Practice patience, pay attention to your process, and focus on creating a world on the page. Some things just shouldn't be rushed.