Despite what the Rolling Stones would like us to believe…time is not on our side. As writers we are always under the gun with one deadline or another. As a newspaper reporter for many, many years I lived the bulk of my life with a deadline looming. I survived all those years of hurry up and get it done but it left some scars too.
These days I still tend to put deadlines on myself and this has translated into my novel work. I do think that setting goals is a good thing but I also think that setting deadlines as a novelist can be a very bad thing and here’s why…when you have a deadline you rush and rushing is not a good thing at all when it comes to writing a novel.
A novel has to be written as though life is passing through it. Life can’t be rushed. You, as the creator, have to take the time to live the moments that you convey within your story. You have to feel what your characters are feeling; you have to experience the emotion of the moments that you are stringing together, if you don’t, neither will your readers.
I would be willing to bet that you have personally read a novel or two where the writer rushed the story. You know the ones, you begin the book, the story is moving along at a decent pace and suddenly the writer kills everyone and the story is over. When you close the back cover of that book you feel cheated and you are left with questions that will never be answered like why did the main character Rick hate mashed potatoes? Everyone loves mashed potatoes right? What the heck?
Readers are not stupid and nor do they like to be rushed. They want to be romanced, drawn into the story and then taken on a ride…not an over the cliff-everybody dies ride and its over but a slow meandering through the story that not only shows them that the staff is headed over a cliff but also tells them why through the story. We need to be allowed to escape through books…that is, after all, the point.
So before you decide that you are going to write a novel in 30 days consider what that timeline is going to do to your story. Sure it’s fun every November to join in on the fun of NaNoWriMo, an annual novel writing project that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world, but is it worth it to do this to all your novels? I say no! Take your time, romance your reader and don’t rush a good thing…..
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