Thursday, June 22, 2017

Perils of the Writer: The Novel Refractory Period

How long should you take between novels?

Or, if you have contracts and deadlines, how long can you afford to take?  That's the real question.

Now, at this point, with six novels written, two more waiting for editorial turnaround, one out shopping and one in draft... I've got my methodology down.  That isn't to say that I've got nothing left to learn, because... I've always got more to learn.  But I don't really sit down and ask myself, "How do I write a novel again?"  Nor do I really dither about What To Write Next.  Given contracts and release schedules, that's kind of a given right now.

But how much time do you take in between?

For the purpose of this discussion, I'm talking about going from a polished draft of one novel to starting the rough draft of the next.  The polished draft is "finished" when I send it in an email to either agent or editor.  More work will have to be done, but it's as finished as it's going to be without their input.  And the rough draft starts when I write actual words that will appear in the manuscript.  Outlining, re-outlining, and other "pre-production" work don't count.

Now that I've defined my terms, I can say that, for me,  a two-week gap is about right.  I took two weeks between turning in Imposters and starting Lady Henterman's, and also between Lady Henterman's and Parliament of Bodies.  Those two-weeks are usually spent either on the pre-production stuff for the upcoming project, or doing side-project work to reboot myself. But I definitely don't like to take any longer than that.  Two weeks is plenty.  By then, I'm itching to get going again.

And along those lines, time to hit the word mines.  See you down there.