Novel vs. Blog: A Study

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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.

  1. 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?”YA Author Tom Hoover on Blogging
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. More revisions. My world is a sea of red-ink blood.
  6. 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:

  1. I get an idea, or I sit down and start writing and hope an idea emerges. Like I did today…
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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