Should You Put A Time Limit on Your Novel?

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Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a great week. It’s hard to believe 2019 is almost over. As the new year rapidly approaches, we tend to look back to see if we accomplished everything that we’ve set out to accomplish. Every year we make new years resolutions and set goals for ourselves and when those goals aren’t met by the end of the year, we are left wondering what the hell happened? You planned you researched, you followed the rules and disciplined yourself to do what you needed to do but realized that you’ve limited yourself by creating a deadline. Sometimes setting limits can hinder your performance instead of helping it. With writing a novel that is not under contract, you may be doing more harm to your work in progress as you originally thought.

Creating a deadline to finish your novel at a certain time can interfere with the creative process. If you don’t have a publishing deal yet who are you trying to impress? The only person who stands to be disappointed if you don’t make that deadline is you. If you’ve already got some self-published books under your belt and you think your readers are sitting around on pins and needles waiting for your next work in progress, your sadly mistaken. Those same readers who liked your book have already moved on to several other books that they found interesting. Some are bestsellers, and some aren’t. But it’s safe to take your time and stop racing against it. Unless your Agent is hounding you about when your next book will be finished because your publisher is pressuring her to pressure you, it doesn’t really matter when you finish it. Just finish it.

I speak from experience when I say that setting a time limit on your novel can create unnecessary pressure for yourself. I know. Because I’ve been feeling it all year ever since I started this project. In the back of my mind, I always think that my readers will forget my books exist and I’ll be lost in the sea of millions of other books out there. Sadly, it’s true. If you are not a best- selling author or even a moderate selling author, you will get lost in the shuffle. The competition is steep for those who are always trying to be the best or constantly thinking they have to top themselves with every single book they write. Authors who write book series especially have to worry about topping the last book because there’s so much riding on its success in order to help get you to buy the next installment in the series. If it’s not better, it can tank the whole series. Deadlines can make you feel like your novel is the end all be all and your writing career is over if you don’t meet the goal. But a lot of that pressure is created by you and you alone. Writing is not a competition to see who the best writer in the business is. There’s no Grammy or Oscars for us. Every reader out there is looking for a good read regardless of who wrote it or what genre it’s in. It’s mainly up to a reader’s mood. I know I do not check the best seller’s list to see who’s on top in order to decide what book to read next. Do you? There’s room in this business for all genres and all writers. No pressure.

And lastly, putting a time limit on your work in progress can actually ruin the overall quality of your finished product. With all the worrying about getting it done, you begin to lose sight of what’s really important. A novel must go through many revisions after the first draft is written. There is no set amount, but you will know when to stop when your Editor is satisfied with what you’ve done. They can tell an amateur from a seasoned Author who knows their stuff. They will look for the tell-tale signs such as extremely bad grammar and misspellings throughout the entire book, not to mention repeated chapter numbers, lack of writing style, names that were changed throughout the book that should have stayed the same. Or a book that has no beginning, middle or end. When all you care about is getting the book completed because your tired of working on it and believe me there will be days when you want to throw the computer against the wall: you will stop caring about following the steps to get published. You will not pay close attention to detail when editing your own novel, you will not spend the time it takes to find the right Editor to handle the job and really make your novel read the way it should. But it’s all up to you and how badly you really want to do what’s necessary to make your book look professional.

I know that the steps that need to be taken in order to get a publishing deal feels like it’s taking forever but do yourself and your readers a favor and slow down. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Sometimes I still slip into old ways and try to take shortcuts, but you really can’t. Because if you do, your book will not become the successful book that you are hoping for. Sometimes time has a way of making us think that it’s just not enough and maybe it’s not. But when you care about something so much and want to see it grow into something big and wonderful, you’ll take the time you need to see it through. Trust me, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Until next time…

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