I’m a slow writer. I’m so slow that I actually forced a 30-minute time limit on this entry because otherwise I’d take too much time away from my other projects, musingly tapping my pencil on my chin for ages. Actually I’m typing this on my laptop, but the pencil thing was a nice visual effect, yeah? If I actually hand-wrote these things it’d be take me double-ages. Triple-ages! But I’m getting off track.
Yes, I write slow. Other authors hit 3000 words and think it’s not too shabby while I’m over here like, “I WROTE A PAGE! A WHOLE ACTUAL PAGE! WOOOO!”
There are various factors at play here. One is that I like to craft. I love sculpting an artful sentence, getting its words under my fingernails as I mold and shape. I love it, but it’s certainly time-consuming.
And energy-consuming, which is another factor. I can’t glue myself to the chair and write for hours upon hours. I just. Can’t.
Also I edit as I go. My “first” draft contains multiple drafts within it. I’m continuously re-writing and re-structuring, adding and removing. It’s one holistic process, not step-by-step for me. And while some people like to get the bare bones on the page first, then flesh it out later, I like to get it nice n’ gooey the first go around, then edit to strip away. Everyone has different methods.
I also don’t write every day. (This is a subject for another post, about capital-R “Rules” that authors are commanded to follow but that I don’t believe in.) Sometimes I hit a point where an idea needs to stew. Not to the point where it’s so soggy it disintegrates as soon as it’s out of the pot, but enough that I have time to build the idea or absorb new thoughts and experiences to draw from.
And you know what? I’m okay with that!
Writing fast has its place. It’s great for people who tend to cripple themselves with perfectionism, where the time spent on one sentence is not an enjoyable act of choice, but one of labor and frustration and “MUST. GET. IT. RIGHT!!” Speed is how you get out of those ruts. It’s about momentum. It’s about not letting yourself stop to scrutinize, because once you stop, you won’t start again.
Speed also matters if you have deadlines. Unfortunately a writer with a deadline has no choice in the matter, except for Douglas Adams who said one of my favorite quotes:
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
Right now I’m in the last third of my novel, so I’ve been a bit more steadfast. For the next few months I’m going to be sticking to a weekly goal of 2000 words, which is quite small by others’ standards but for me is a comfy minimum. I’m also challenging myself to resist editing as I go, instead saving it for the end. That’s tough! But I have a certain date I want to finish by (for a particular reason that I will mention later) so I’m motivated to keep these goals.
Welp, I’m at my 30-minute mark. I’ll close by saying this: There is no wrong way to write. If you don’t need to rush, why rush? But if you want to go fast, go fast. Doesn’t matter, as long as it works!
In other news, one of my writing group peers, Dirk Sayers, has used a story of mine to springboard this blog post about the nature of Why. Dirk brings up excellent insights about our thirst for neatly resolved answers amid the chaotic whylessness of the universe. I highly recommend the read!