Book in a Year?

Military parachute jump celebrationSo . . . my therapist told me I was “dating around” on my books. Yes, I have four novels-in-process I’ve been juggling, and my writing group agrees: it is time to settle down. Make a commitment. Go deep.

My writing group members have been celebrating phenomenal successes in the world of writing, successes that suggest that the doomsayers are wrong. So finishing a book seems like a good idea right about now.

Of course, I took a look at my four books–my writing group around me in a circle–and I picked the biggest, unruliest, excitingest one of the quartet.

Should I be scared?

I guide other people through this process all the time. It’s easier to see clearly what someone else’s manuscript needs–and how wonderful it is. It’s easier to encourage someone else to be brave, to set and keep goals, to . . . well, to . . . commit. It’s kind of silly, but I’ve often wished that writer-me could have editor-me as a coach and confidant. Instead–and better–I am turning to you–all the wonderful writers and readers out there, electronically connected to me and to each other.

What works best for you? I’m looking for advice, encouragement and your own commitment to your own courageous goals. Help me to be brave, single-minded and stubborn this year, won’t you?

What are your own writing plans for 2010, and what’s your best take on how to get to where you are determined to go?

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  1. I will happily cheer you on! I finished a draft of my novel manuscript in 2009 (a manuscript I started and stalled and restarted and stalled and restarted, for years). In 2010, I am going to revise the novel at least twice. Let’s do it!

    What worked for me in 2009 was making the novel a priority. No new short stories, no new essays, and even fewer blog posts. (Twitter was allowed). Everything I experienced in life HAD to go into the novel, not a short story, nothing else, just the novel. And I made a commitment to set aside certain days to write, even if only 200 words trickled out…those were my writing days.

    You can do it. 🙂

    • Dear C(h)ristine,

      Thank you. And congratulations!! I was just talking to a friend I work with at cafes on certain days, and she suggested work days v. writing days, instead of mornings v. afternoons. Your comment reinforces this idea. It’s hard for me to set aside other manuscripts, but since deciding to do so, I’ve had daily inspiration for the novel I picked. I look forward to following your revision progress, and I’ve heard enough tidbits of your novel to be really excited about it! Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. I love your comment “dating around” with your books. I am also trying to write several novels; one gets to a certain point I get fickle and go to the next one. Several of my “novel” ideas have spun into short-stories and visa versa. The only thing I am faithful to is my poetry.
    But here’s to a novel this year. I’ll drink to that! It’s my goal too! Several of my Children’s books will be published and moved on before my sweet, patient lover – my book – get’s there.
    Hey Write On!
    If I can encourage you, I’d love to – I am good at that!!!

    • Thanks, Leslie. And here’s to encouraging/ coaching /editing/ tending to ourselves as well as we do to others! I remember Dorothy Allison suggesting multiple projects as a tool to prevent writer’s block, but when the projects become the problem, it can be helpful to focus in . . . and that’s my plan. Keep in touch about how your year goes!

  3. A book in a year is a totally reasonable goal. You can definitely do it! I, too, jump from project to project but am looking to settle down with just one project at a time. I’m forcing myself to finish one thing before moving on to the next. If the thing is a book, so be it!

    • Thanks, fellow Elizabeth! And good luck to you. Keep me posted.

  4. what helps me is having someone (preferably another writer or artist) to talk to weekly about the process. a very informal type of chat – i/we each get to talk about whatever we want, however we want. i get re-inspired every time i hear my own story/novel spoken out loud…the power of the spoken word, if you will.

    i know you can do it this year! I, too, want to finish that darned walnut. after i finish my ‘other’ project, haha.

    • Amy–Thanks so much. You are awesome, and when you are ready to finish Walnut–that magical book–the Book Writing World will be there for you.

  5. Elizabeth, I hear you. I also help writers by coaching and editing, but its much harder to help myself. That’s why I also have a critique group. So, a word of support… How about a question? What do you gain by actually committing to your one book this year? And what might you lose? (Okay, two questions!) Also, deadlines help. 🙂 Lastly, I’m local to you (Oakland). If I may be so bold as to suggest we meet over cover and explore our mutual interests, commitments, and projects.

    This year I’m committed to taking my current novel where ever it takes me. I’m going for it!

    • Beth–Thanks! Yes, even coaches need coaches, just as Olympic athletes need coaches. I’ll email you directly about meeting. Those are some good questions. Glad you are going for it, too!


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