2018 has just begun and I already want to slow it down.
Which is ironic considering I’m one of the slowest writers I know (not that I’m swimming among a plethora of writers, but just go with me here). But here’s the thing, just because I only manage an average of 800-1,200k words a day, it doesn’t mean it can’t take a toll on me.
Sure, there are some writers out there who look at that number, scoff and go back to their flaming type-writers, but I’m not one of them. And that’s okay.
Yeah, I still get down because I don’t write nearly as much as I want to. I have dozens of ideas in various stages of outline and I’m aching to get them all out in the world. It’s true, the more I practice, the more efficient I become, but the truth of the matter is that I still struggle to accomplish a 50K NaNo win every year and the other 11 months are constantly in a state of flux.
But whatever man. That’s what I have to say about that. WHATEVER.
Because I ain’t got time for that. For realsies. I REALLY don’t have time for that. I have spent so long looking back and regretting everything I didn’t accomplish, all it ever ended up doing was hindering me from doing even better right now. What a vicious cycle. And one of my biggest insecurities in writing is my speed, or rather, lack thereof.
Well no more. NO MORE! Writing is far too important to me to stop just because I’m not perfect at it. I’m going to continue even if it takes me longer than I would like and in the end, it will all be worth it. And it will be worth it for you too. How do I know? Oh, trust me, I know. Need more convincing? Read on my friend…
If you’re a slow writer, remember…
1. Quality over quantity
First things first, this is not a dig at quick writers! There is absolutely no proof that every person in the world who writes quickly is writing garbage. Let’s just get that out of the way because it’s safe to say there are some extremely talented and skilled writers out there who can pop out a fresh book every other month if they so desired.
However. I know that for ME, writing too quickly is a deathtrap. The truth is, when I write too fast the quality of my work takes a steep nosedive off a 40,000 foot cliff. It’s bad. It’s terrible. It’s also really, really sad. And I know I’m not the only one who writes this way. Our brains just weren’t made to type out a six thousand (legible) words an hour, and why is that a bad thing? Because ultimately it’s the final product we’re looking for, right? What’s the point of finishing a novel in a couple weeks if it’s a steaming pile (of you know what) that’s going to require 11 months of editing? I’d rather slow it down, take a few months up front and wind up with a first draft that doesn’t make my eyes bleed.
2. It’s not a race
It’s awesome to write quickly, and it’s absolutely awe-inspiring to watch our favorite writers gift us book after book. Is that an awesome goal to aspire to? Yes! But do you HAVE to publish a book every 4-12 months to be considered a serious writer?
Absolutely not. After all, whoever said writing is a competition? If you’re writing to support yourself, sure, there’s probably going to be some deadlines and late nights in your future, but even a traditional 9-5 job is not all about the go-go-go. Or at least, it really shouldn’t be. Find your balance. Maybe that means sprinting 25k words and then taking a few days rest. Maybe it means writing 1k a day. Or perhaps you only write on the weekdays or only the weekends. Whatever it is, find your groove and be proud of what works for you. It’s okay. Words are being written, and that’s what counts.
3. Enjoy staying in your world
I hope that, as a writer, on some level, you love your characters and the world they inhabit. It doesn’t matter if it’s contemporary, fantasy, science-fiction or WHATEVER, clearly something about it all excites you enough to pour thousands of words into it, right? RIGHT?
So why are you in such a hurry to leave it all behind!? Take the extra time to really absorb it all, learn more about it, build it up and understand what makes everything tick. In the end, the extra world-building will only help to make your novel that much richer.
4. Remember your accomplishments
Okay, say it with me.
Slow =/= lazy
In case you can’t decipher that, I’ll lay it out for you. Being a slow writer does not make you a lazy writer.
Trust me, this is so important. It’s incredibly easy to compare your writing to that of other writers and wonder why your numbers don’t stack up. You start to wonder, ‘Did I procrastinate too much?’ or ‘Why can’t I be like that other person?’. Or even worse. ‘Am I even mean to be a real writer?’
Stop. Stop that right now. It’s so easy to look back and reflect on what we haven’t done, so why can’t we do the same for the things we HAVE managed to accomplish? I know that’s like telling a bunny to just stop being adorable (aka impossible), but we, as creators, have to stop bringing ourselves down like this. All we’re going to do is spiral down even further until we’re so deep down that bunny-hole we’ll never climb out (okay, enough with the bunny metaphors. Maybe.), and that’s not what we need. Remember your accomplishments. They’re amazing.
5. Try new methods of writing
There are a million different ways to write and plot and brainstorm, so explore them! I know, it’s super cheesy, but don’t feel constrained just because you think you’re already behind and have to “catch up”. Screw that. Try out as many different writing projects and techniques as you want, because who knows when one of them really click? Besides, maybe one of these options will be just the ticket to give your speed a little bit of a kick!
- Word sprints
- Try multiple projects
- Drabbles and short stories
The world is your oyster! You’re the big cheese! The proof is in the pudding! Now off with you! (and maybe have a snack too)
6. Practice makes perfect
Come on people, we’ve been saying this since before we understood what it meant. Practice, practice, practice! We’re sick of saying it, we’re tired of hearing it, but I’m just going to scream it louder because I like being obnoxious.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!
Are you getting that? Practice will help you speed up. Practice will help you catch and fix your error early on so you end up with a clear manuscript the first time around. Practice will be fun because after all, you love writing! Don’t dread it or see it as something to avoid. Ultimately every time you write you’re practicing because with each new project you’re only going to get that much better.
So, my fellow slow writers, don’t despair and don’t give up! I know it’s easy to feel like you’re trudging along at a snail’s pace, but after a while, you’re going to look back and realize, ‘Hey! I DID come a long way!’
OHOHOH! And bonus Thing To Remember #8!!
You ARE a real writer! Don’t you ever let anyone, including yourself, tell you that isn’t true! Now keep going!
Are you a slow or quick writer? Do you ever compare your progress to other writers? Are you practicing to be a faster writer or have you embraced your pace?