Six months may seem like a long time, but it is a golden period of opportunity for the serious writer. Pearls are not made in a day; rather, they become more valuable as time adds layer after layer of luster to their core of sand. In the same way, books are not written or edited in a day, but are brought to life through patience.
This goes against the grain of much advice in the writing world today.
“The Ten-Day Novel: Secrets to Speed-Writing.”
“How to Write and Self-Publish a Book in Thirty Days.”
“Get Published Now!”
Yes, I made those titles up, but you get my point. The writing world assumes that faster is better.
I believe the opposite. Fast can be good, but it can also lack quality. Sure, you can’t get a writing career off the ground without a proactive mindset. But you also don’t get a writing career off the ground by being in a hurry to produce.
That’s where the six-month strategy comes in.
If you have an idea for a story, let the idea sit for six months.
Not every idea is worthy of a novel, and you’ve probably had dozens of ideas whose charm faded over time. However, the idea that survives a six-month wait is worth putting on paper. It means that the idea is more than just a quirk of excitement; it has lasting appeal.
During those six months, you probably mulled over it a great deal, which gives you the advantage of having worked out a lot of potential kinks in the plotline before you have even begun. This saves enormous amounts of time and effort.
Give yourself six months to write a novel.
You might write it in much less than six months, but in my experience, patience better serves the complexity of the novel.
Nobody looks at their NaNoWriMo book on December 1st and thinks, “It’s brilliant! I could ship it off to a publisher today!” Of course, for some people, the thirty-day deadline is the kick in the pants that they need, but for most of us, jobs, family, and other commitments crowd into our writing time.
I personally believe that rich writing is the product of a rich life. Allow yourself to live while you write. The six-month pacing is much more sustainable, your story has an opportunity to develop naturally, and your relationship with writing remains amiable.
Let the book sit for six months before you edit it.
Don’t look at it. Don’t even think about it. Why? Because you need to forget your book enough to see it through a reader’s eyes.
During your review, highlight the portions that you plan to edit, but do no actual revision. After completing your review, then begin the editing work. You must keep the roles of reader and editor separate in order to preserve the integrity of each.
When I began to consistently employ the six-month strategy, the editing process was much quicker and more effective. If you discard my advice on the first two stages of the six-month strategy, don’t discard it on this one. You won’t regret it.
I realize that this means a single novel will take a year and a half to complete. That’s okay. Stop competing against everyone else and their schedules. Compete with yourself. Challenge yourself to write, not a quicker book, but a better book.