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July 10, 2006


Michelle Rowen

Great post, Julie. Ah, heroes. Sigh. I like the analogy of them coming through the mist. For me, it's more like a radio turned on really quiet. I have to wait until I can make out what they're saying before I'm ready to start writing.

Julie Anne Long

I like the radio analogy, too, Michelle. Isn't it funny the metaphors we all come up with for our writing processes? I have about a gazillion, and no doubt I'll lay a few of them on readers of this blog over the next few months. LOL. But many of them, if not most, involve somehow "tuning in" to the story. Going "Into the Mystic," ol' Van Morrison would say.


Wow, very good blog, Julie, I love it when authors talk about their writing process. How long does it typically take you to write a book, from start to finish?


Julie Anne Long

Hey Isabel!! Re how long it takes to write a story...you know, it really depends on the nature of the story, on how much research is involved, the circumstances of my life at any given time, how many other projects you have going on, on so many things. I kind of have to look at it on a case-by-case basis, and the total amount of time it takes to write a book seems to be evolving for me with each book I write. I can now say confidently that I can pretty painlessly write about 15 (Times New Roman) pages a day (once i have story momentum), and I've written up to 30 pages a day on a number of (bleary-eyed, crazed) occasions. I wrote one book in about six weeks. :) But I think three, maybe four months is a humane amount of time to write 100k words—it allows time for completion of a draft, builds "airholes" into the schedule for mulling if I get stuck, and allows for that crucial distance of a week or two away from the total book before I revisit it. And of course, you need to keep the rest of your life from coming to a screeching halt and crashing around your ears while you write a book, too. :)

But you know...a number of newer authors have asked me this question—how fast should I write?—worrying that they're doing something wrong, because we authors so often speak in terms of pages-per-day. I really don't think there *are* any shoulds here, apart from the fact that you *should* meet your contracted deadline, and you'll figure out best how to manage your schedule in order to do this. I think you really only discover your own writing rhythm, speed and process after you've completed about two books, and though the learning process can sometimes be graceless and crazy, it's immensely valuable, and the reward at the end of it is that you've earned your own trust—you trust yourself to get the work done well, whatever it takes.

And I would say to a new author: just honor your own process. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing or how fast anyone else is going, because the only thing that matters is the end result, your book. You'll write how you write, and you'll get there how you get there.

So there's my long-winded answer. LOL. Someday I'll blog more about this kind of thing, too. :) If you have any ideas for blog topics, in fact, send 'em my way.


Julie, thank you. You're right it's different for everyone and that's what makes the journey of each writer so unique. I find it fascinating how authors write their books, some do it over a period of a couple months writing six to eight hours a day (hopefully taking a break every now and then) and for others it takes a year or longer to finish a book. Some are night owls and write into the late hours of the night, early morning. Some do it during their lunch hour at their day job. Some like me do it on the weekends.
For now I'm having fun, learning as I go, before the publisher deadlines become part of my work. Hopefully one of these years :)


For a non-writer like me all this is fascinating and I love the evocative language you use to describe the process. I can just sit here in awe and stupidity because I have only a tiny number of creative genes. People in Germany even laughed at the clay beaver I attempted to create in one of the few crafts classes I ever attended. The easiest drawings for me were perspectives of buildings--showed my heritage as the daughter of a draftsman-architect. He had no great ideas how the building should look, but he gave the concert hall in the Centennial Center in Winnipeg his full attention for excellent acoustics and the like. A nuts and bolts person. And that's my forte in languages: how to build a sentence with the correct grammar, syntax and meaning. I've seen some real boners in my days as a reader and that brings my attention for the story to a screeching halt.

And oddly enough, though my father was an immigrant from Germany, the secretaries in the company he worked for would come to him if they had a problem with writing English. Yep, go figure. He read a lot and soaked it all up like a sponge, like I did. My mother had an advantage over him in that she had spent 6 months in Scotland and worked for American Express in Berlin before the War. I absorbed English mostly the same way he did. Then the English classes we took at school solidified my knowledge of grammar. Too bad most students didn't get that.

Unfortunately, lately, like everybody else, I've become afflicted by the "apostrophe disease" putting it in places it does not belong. That's why I think it's so important that readers see it only in its correct places. But that's another story...

Hope you all had a good night.

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