Today I joined three of my Spooky Middle Grade Authors for another class Skype visit. The students asked a number of different questions, but it seems like no matter where our Skypes take place, there are always some questions asked over and over again.
I’ll answer one of the most popular questions we are asked–
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: Usually, months—oftentimes years for me. I will start a book and give myself a daily schedule, which I am generally good at keeping. I’ll often have my writers’ group take a look at my progress and provide feedback, which often requires editing. This first stage can take a few months–after doing initial plotting and research (which can also take a few months). Then generally, if there isn’t a deadline involved, I’ll put the story away at least for a month or more. I give it time to simmer. I give my brain a break from that story and work on something else. So when I come back to the previous story, I can see it with much fresher eyes. I can appreciate the good parts and hopefully see where the story still struggles. Then I’ll dive back in for rewrites. And often I’ll seek further help from others as well. I want to polish it as best as I can before sending it out to editors.
While this timeline probably sounds much too long for middle grade readers–and writers, I hope it doesn’t intimidate them. My main point with this question is to show that we writers don’t get it right the first time. We write and rewrite a number of times. I hope this will empower students. They don’t have to write their story perfectly the first time.
Come back soon for another question and answer!