Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Amount of Work Involved

Writing is work. The saying is obvious, but how much work is it?

I have a general idea by looking over the number of copies in my story folder.

For every story I write, I keep a computer folder named with the story's title. The story itself is a Word file, again named by the title. At the end of a day when I make substantial changes, I save and number a copy.

For Mistletoe Everywhere, my Regency Christmas novella, version one is the original idea, at 3000 words. The final version I sent to the publisher, at 26, 600 words, is version seventy-four.

Now for the length of time the writing took. I generally write all day on Sunday, with some time, usually not much, during the week. I started Mistletoe Everywhere in June, and finished in mid-September. Then I let the story sit for a month to allow me to see it with fresh eyes. As I reread it in October, the story sounded good to me. I made some changes, mainly replacing words I repeat too often with better words.

Then I tackled the query letter and synopsis. They took two weeks. At the end of October, I sent the fifth version to my editor at The Wild Rose Press.

So, from when I started to when I sent in the query, the total effort was about five months, seventy-four (74) versions of the novella, and five (5) versions of the query and synopsis.

The editor will now send me her edits, and I'll work on the story again for at least another month. I don't know how typical this amount of work is, but I've worked a lot.

For the authors out there, how many versions do you write before you send your story in?

Thank you all,


Anonymous said...

Like you, Linda, I work mostly Sundays, with only little time during the working week. It took me around 8 months to finish Highland Arms, with two versions. I'm just doing the synopsis (my, that's tough!) at the moment and I'm halfway through the process of editing the full ms again. I aim to send off the synopsis by next weekend.

I have an earlier ms, as yet uncompleted, which I worked on for 3 years (during my CW courses), with around 8 versions, before I gave up on it for the time being.

I use a writing programme for writing, with sections for notes, plot, character descriptions, etc, but do the editing in Word.

It takes a long time but it's oh so worth it! :-)

Linda Banche said...

Hi Steph, lots of effort involved, as we know. From the outside, writing looks easy, but we know it's not. Good luck!

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I wish I could be as methodical as you are, Linda. I might get more done. I am always working on something. It never ends. While I'm waiting to hear something on a story I sent to a publisher, I'm working on the edits of another and deep into a WIP. I write something every day--even if it's just working on titles. Sometimes I write so long that my back aches and I feel stiff. Of course, that could just be my age. LOL But I must agree with you, Linda, that writing is work even though we love it. Every day of my life is spent in some aspect of writing career. I have nothing but gratitude though that I have such a passion for writing that it never feels like work.
Sarah McNeal

Marie Tuhart said...

Great post, Linda. I've used the version numbers too, but not like you have. I think the most I've used is up to 5.

I write on my lunch hour at my day job, and then on weekends. I have a daily word count I shoot for. Some days I make it, others I don't and some days I write a lot more.

The book I sold to The Wild Rose Press that comes out this month, was one I'd written years ago. I queried and was asked for the full.

I made some tweaks to it, nothing major and sent it off. I had a revision to do, then edits, then the galleys. All in all it was 6 months from the query to the end of when the galleys were finalized.

I would say you're time is about typical, it really depends on what you're writing and how much time you have for writing. I've taken as much as a year to write a 70,000 word book, and a month to write a 25,000 word book. It all depends on time and how well the book is flowing.


Miriam Newman said...

Linda, I write one version with a heavy edit at the end. If my books had to pay me for my time, they couldn't afford me! And that's not even counting promo.

Linda Banche said...

Hi Sarah, good for you that you're able to write so much. I wish I could, but I find the promo eats up a lot of my time.

Thanks, Marie. Congrats on getting your book published. The Wild Rose Press also helped me a lot. My stories are now much better because of my editors' help.

Miriam, I wish I could write the way you do. You must be a plotter. I'm a pantser, which is probably why my stuff takes forever. That and the day job. :-) And like you, the time I spend is way out of proportion to the money I make.

Skhye said...

Hi, Linda. I find that my earlier stories were heavily revised. Let's not even guess at which version # some were when I submitted them. Now, I can write a 100 page novella and rework it 3-4 times before submission. Novels take a few more revisions. It helps if a writer knows how to use a synopsis to check for plot holes. ;) And SHOWING always takes some work. ;) I rarely write on a schedule since my daughter arrived--4 years ago. So, I can't help shake pompoms about time investment! ~Skhye

Mary Ricksen said...

I think the more we write the more we learn. So less edits!
Great post Linda!

Diane Craver said...

I don't know how many rewrites I do but they are definitely a lot! I was relieved that I'm not the only one with many rewrites of each story.

Thanks for a great post, Linda!

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

I write in the middle of the night and I make only one copy but I read and edit in the manner of a glut until I think it perfect. This process usually takes me eight months for a novel and month for the kind of short stories I tend to write.
Have a lovely week my dear,

linuxjim said...

I would go bananas trying to keep versions like that. I have a single file with the current version in .odt (OpenOffice) format, Since few will accept this, I also have copies saved as .rtf, .doc, etc, but they are the same as my "master" version.

Only if I have to do a version of a "finished" story (modify length for a market, follow an editor's suggestion for a resubmit, etc.) do I archive a copy ... the old one gets archived flagged with the date and I redo the master.

I couldn't survive any more organization than that!

Linda Banche said...

Looks like I touched on a nerve.

Skhye and Mary, yes, the more we write, the better we get. I no longer start sentences with "this is" and "that is" and then have to go back and edit them out. Practice does make perfect!

Diane, live and learn, and we're all learning. You gotta start somewhere.

Hi Simone, I wish I could get everything out in one fell swoop. Good for you.

linuxjim, part of the process is doing what works for you. Besides numbering my previous versions, I also save copies on two other drives. And sometimes I miss one of the other drives!

Thanks to all for coming over.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Linda, I use folders that way, also. I don't save that many different drafts. Generally, I save the first draft then start a file for the second draft which I'll rework some before changing to the third. How many I have depends on how messy I started with! I plot the thing in my head only in general but then just let it flow as I write.

With my most recent, I have four drafts plus pages of notes but the last two of those got plenty of reworking after being saved. I worked on that one for two years or so. My first took 10 years because it had to be completely rewritten (after writing class and such) and be separated into a series.

Yes, I do think we pick up speed as we go along and keep learning what not to do wrong the first go-round.

Linda Banche said...

Hi LK, sounds like you and I have a similar method. Great minds think alike **grins**. Yes, writing classes do help. Writing is a skill we have to learn.

Heather Snow said...

I haven't established my pattern yet, and time has been difficult to judge for me (with a baby in between who is now 20 months and heck on the writing schedule!)

However, I'm inspired by the different methodologies here. I need to get a better system, as I write on 2 computers with multiple versions and I often get them confused. I've rectified part of that problem by getting the same version of Word on both computers now, but I have lots of room for improvement!

Still, 74 versions. Wow! Keep up the good work :)

Happy New Year!

Linda Banche said...

Heather, as you can see, everyone has a different method. You have to do what works for you. I suggest you get a thumb drive and copy your WIP onto each of your two computers whenever you make a change.

Yes, 74 versions. For what it's worth, I do work hard.

A.Quickfan said...

Wow, great post. I was just thinking about his the other day. Since I'm working on my first Novel my progress has been fluctuating. In the beginning I'd get hung up on a paragraph and then with a chapter until I kept going back to re-work instead of plodding on until I finished.

Now, I'm to the point where I take a week or a few days and think about the chapter I want to write, actually write it out and then just do it. I spend very little time going back over it, but force myself to move on. As long as I haven't missed any major plot points or set ups within the given chapter I can live with that.

I save a few early versions but once I'm clear on my story I generally just save the same document with the most recent date.

I plan to continue on this way until the end. It's working so far. THEN, I will obsess over each chapter and get some fresh eyes on it and...probably ask for advice on how to get it published. :)

Thanks for letting me know I'm not crazy in my methods.


Linda Banche said...

Amber, you're not crazy. Looks like you've figured out by yourself one of the hardest things for authors to do: write it all out, then go back and rewrite. Good for you, you're on your way.

Kaye Manro said...

Sorry I missed this! I stopped by remembering you post weekly and wow, what a great response to a great post, Linda! I too write many versions of my work and I have files within files containing stories.

Linda Banche said...

Thanks Kaye. I have multiple story ideas in one file, too. We all work very hard at writing.