Novel vs. Blog: A Study
Did you know that it’s actually easier for me to sit down in front of a blank page and start a new book than it is to sit down and write this blog?
It’s true, and so, because I have been struggling for a topic this week, I thought I’d explore my struggle with you—I bet you’re glad this isn’t a paid subscription blog. Seriously, if the comment section was truly interactive, you could all be my therapists. All both of you…
But I digress. As therapists, feel free to label this a coping mechanism. Or just assume I saw something shiny.
So let’s start with the basic question: Why is writing something long and involved and chock full of revisions easier to write than this thing? Let’s begin with a basic analysis.
- A book (typically 75,000 to 90,000 words) takes me between three and six months for the first draft. That’s a first draft I can live with. Not a perfect first draft, but one that’s headed in the right direction. That draft will typically bring out some combination of the following reactions during the revision process: “Not bad, I can work with that,” “That’s pretty good,” “No no no, what was I thinking?” and the always popular, “Who wrote this crap?”
- This hodge-podge of a draft spends between two weeks and a month marinating in a drawer, in hard copy form, while I plan and decide and research the next one. I’ve usually started putting words on that new blank sheet of paper when the oven-timer of novel writing dings.
- I do a careful, tedious red pen edit, at the end of which the manuscript looks like one of those movies where the possessed person holds a fat, black crayon in their fist and draws page after page of mindless spirals. I cut. I add. I go off in new directions. I move stuff around and rethink. Then I translate it to a computer file, revising even more as I go.
- I send it to peer readers, who’ll take weeks or months to read and comment. I read and listen to what they say carefully—accepting some things, jettisoning others, and usually exploring some new ideas that their suggestions either stated outright or inspired me to find.
- More revisions. My world is a sea of red-ink blood.
- On to my agent. Or, at the moment, in a holding pattern as I write a query letter or 12, several synopsises, and trot it out for the gauntlet of rejection.
Now let’s see how it works with a blog:
- I get an idea, or I sit down and start writing and hope an idea emerges. Like I did today…
- I do a first draft in 25 minutes to a couple hours, depending on how busy, tired, fill-in-the-blank I am. Since I typically write it the night before it’s due, like a high school term paper without a damn topic sentence, it sits marinating for a few hours at least.
- I read, revise, and send it to my web mistress, all in one sentence. And seriously, there has to be a better title than Web Mistress—it sounds almost pornographic.
The score: A novel costs me nine months to a year of my life, and I love it even when it’s hard and frustrating. A blog takes a few hours, tops, and it’s like a walk to the gallows every time.
Now, it’s your turn, doctor—or psychology mistress, if you prefer. What’s the solution?
C’mon. I know my hour’s not up yet.