Thursday, September 1, 2011
The Tortoise and the Hare
I’m a slow writer. I admit it. If I turn out a book, or even a novella, in a year’s time, I consider that prolific. Civilizations crumble before I get 5000 words written. I average a page an hour on a good day. The other six days a week I might write a paragraph. You get the idea.
Part of my problem is a major aversion to work. Let’s face it, writing is hard. Sweating blood in front of a notebook or computer screen for hours on end is no picnic. There are so many other things I could be doing – grocery shopping, housework, laundry, mowing the lawn. Then there’s cable TV, God’s gift to lazy writers. Wow, I’ve only seen this movie 20 times. Better watch it again.
At the other end of the spectrum we have the fast writers, the ones who can seemingly toss out a full-length novel in an afternoon with no apparent hardship. I look at you in envy, especially those of you with full-time jobs. How do you do it? Where do you find the discipline? Who’s doing your laundry?
Frankly, I don’t believe there’s a difference in quality between a book that burst onto the page like lava out of Vesuvius and a book that had to be excavated like a T. Rex fossil from stone. The real book emerges in the draft-and-polish stage anyway. Lots of times I’ve had better ideas hit while I was screwing off and allowing the pages to sit, making me glad I took my time. On the other hand, I do wish I had the discipline to sit myself down and dig out that T. Rex for more than two hours a day. One book a year is fine for the big names at the print publishers, but today’s e-world favors the speedy.
I’d like to hear from you hares out there. How long does it take you, on average, to finish a book? Do you outline first? Do you have your story figured out before you start writing, or do you just go for it? (That may be part of my problem. As a pantser, half the time I have no idea where the story’s headed. That tends to slow you down.) Do you take your time in the editing stage, or is the first draft close to the finished version? In short, I’m looking for some tips to speed me up. Slow and steady may win the race, but it doesn’t get too many books written.