So with the first book I didn’t particularly have deadlines—other than those I imposed on myself. And for most of us, it’s all too easy to ignore self-imposed deadlines or extend them indefinitely. Having worked as a newspaper reporter for many years, I work best under the thumb of a real, no-fudge-factor deadline.
Now than I’m signed with a publisher, there are real deadlines for my books—dates on which I am contractually obligated to turn in the synopsis and the manuscript for each book and dates by which edits must be completed.
This is good for me. But it’s not always easy. I try not to procrastinate. But no matter how early I get started or push to reach daily word counts, it’s a race to the finish line. That adrenaline rush pushes me forward—that, and copious amounts of caffeine. And I need inspirational tunes.
Not songs to play while actually writing, but songs to inspire me to write. I rarely listen to music while writing. If so, it’s instrumental or sung in a language I don’t speak. Icelandic band Sigur Ros fits the bill.
The following partial playlist is my Rocky Balboa running up the steps music. Music to pump me up, energize me, motivate me, keep me running—or at least limping—to the finish line.
Top Five Inspiration to Write Tunes:
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello
The Book of My Life by Sting
Let the Day Begin by The Call
Paperback Writer by The Beatles
Lots of people have asked how long it took to write my first book. I suppose that’s a common question posed to authors. I say it took all my life. Or, at least, it seems that way. I knew I wanted to be a writer in the fourth grade when my little essay on “What Patriotism Means to Me” won first place in my age division in a national contest.
I won $25, which seemed like a huge wad of cash to me at the time. I also got to appear on a morning show in Memphis, where I read my essay from the news desk in front of television cameras. I felt like a celebrity. I reckoned if I had reached such heights by the fourth grade, my star could only ascend as a grown-up when I became a famous novelist.
That child-like confidence faded a bit during my awkward teen years. I did become a writer, earning a degree in journalism and working much of my adult life as a reporter at small newspapers.
But, the dream of writing my own stories and not just reporting other people’s stories never completely left me. And I have two really awful manuscripts stuffed in a drawer somewhere to prove it.
Third time was the charm. We moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for my husband’s work. I didn’t find a job, so I started writing the murder mystery that eventually got me an agent and a publisher.
So, how long did it take to write that first book? It took a little more than four years – plus my whole life up to that point.
(NOTE: My publisher has different ideas about how long it takes to write a novel. I know exactly how long it will take to complete my second book, since I’m contractually obligated to turn it in by the end of October!)