Some novels should be written slowly

How long does it take to write a novel?

Here’s a typical post I’ve been seeing a lot lately. ‘A few hundred words a day add up to several thousand a month – which will let you bank a good two or three novels a year.’

We’re not counting the first book, of course. Then, you were running not just before you could walk but before you even learned to tie your shoes. Your novels after that will obviously be faster, but how fast? Two or three novels a year? Whole novels, finished, filleted to perfection?

If a goal like that turns you hysterically italic, then relax. It makes my serifs curl too. Not all novels can – or should – be written fast.

I’ve done fast writing. One year when I was ghosting, I knocked out four entire novels. (There they are on the scales, plus the one I started next.) I had the characters, it was a well trodden genre.

My own novels take me aeons by comparison.

I had the idea for My Memories of a Future Life in the 1990s when I was hopelessly unable to do it justice. A decade later I wrote it properly, which took at least a year of mining and quarrying. It wooed an agent, I did more edits and I hoped for another round before it was published. In the end I became my own publisher – diagnosed the last tweaks it needed and nuked 50,000 words. A lot of that time, of course, was learning curve. But My Memories of a Future Life could not have been written in four months.

The novel I’m revising again, Life Form 3, took more than a year. If you’ve been knocking around this blog for a while you might remember my anguished posts when it tested my faith quite sorely. I’ve now got great notes from a publisher who identified some sticky spots that I agree on. And finding the solutions has taken me three months.

Three months. In the alternate universe where I write like the clappers, that’s the time taken to write – and finish – three-quarters of a novel.

Although we do aim to finish our books, not fiddle forever, I worry that we are too obsessed by speed. It’s as if all writers are being encouraged to aim just for quantity – ‘I’ll have a pound of novels, please’. My writing pace isn’t unusual; I recently finished reading The Lessons by Naomi Alderman and was heartened to see a four-year gap between novel 1 and novel 2. She marinates even longer than I do.

You do what’s right for your material, your muse and your market. A thriller designed as an airport read is probably not going to get much better if you spend a year honing every paragraph. Series are faster too – you know your characters and where you’re going, so half the work is done for you already. A more literary, thoughtful work takes discovery. I sometimes worry that all I’ve got is muddle, and no model to tell me how to put it together. But with time, it comes.

If you’re well tuned to your audience and your genre, you can turn a novel out efficiently – but that doesn’t always mean fast.

Are you a fast writer or a slow writer? Do you feel pressured to write too fast?

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  1. #1 by Lindsay on March 25, 2012 - 6:57 pm

    Right now I’m working on the first full in the series, of novellas, I’m writing. Right now I’m about on schedule for finishing and submitting the book-end of spring to beginning of summer.

    • #2 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 6:52 am

      I envy you having a bunch of people you’re going to be able to return to, Lindsay. A lovely luxury

  2. #3 by Patti Larsen on March 25, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    I’m fast, and I don’t feel pressured–in fact, I feel like a leper sometimes. I’m told I can’t possibly create good work as quickly as I do, but I can’t seem to slow the muse down. I think everyone has their own optimal speed, and their own threshold of trusting their abilities. I really feel like I’ve reached mine and the doubters be… well.

    Mind you, I go through intensive rounds of edits and polishes, just like everyone else (or, like everyone else SHOULD)–but even those are speedy because good edits are like cleaning windows–suddenly the view is crystal clear. Does this make me better or worse than anyone else? Of course not. I’m just that kind of writer–and my readers seem to think I’m doing it right.

    Do I suggest trading speed for quality? Never. But neither should writers be pigeonholed into a box b/c others believe creativity should happen a certain way. It’s called being creative for a reason–the process is what it is. It’s so frustrating to come across ‘gurus’ who tell it one way and one way only. I personally teach a structure program but I always inform my students they are the ones using the format–to take from it what works for them and adapt the rest into their own process.

    Being fast or slow or anything in between is just that. As long as slow doesn’t come from procrastination (often the case) and fast doesn’t come from impatience (same thing) it’s all good.

    • #4 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 6:54 am

      Hi Patti! Some great points here. We find our pace according to what we’re writing. And as you say we have to go fast or slow for the right reasons.

  3. #5 by Melanie Marttila on March 25, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    Definitely slow :P
    I first had the idea for the novel I’ve been working on decades ago … yes, that’s decades. I was writing agnostic (you know … can’t get your butt to believe in the existence of the chair long enough to sit it it and do some writing?) for years before I figured out the secret. Now, I’ve been working on my novel for 5+ years and I think I’m closing in on my prey at last.
    This will change. I don’t intend every novel I write to consume so much of my life, but this was the first one, and I have found the process agonized and agonizing.
    I share your pain.
    And your hope :)

    • #6 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 6:57 am

      Hi Melanie – great to hear your experience, especially from another slow-burn writer! Best of luck getting yours the way you dream it could be.

  4. #7 by Viv on March 25, 2012 - 7:06 pm

    I can do both.
    My best so far percolated for some years (actually the 8 or so where I gave up writing) and came up like a gusher and I produced 105k words in 17 days. It’d have been done quicker if I’d not been forced to see clients, run a home and so on. Oh and go to bed and sleep a bit too.
    When everything falls totally into place, it just rushes out.
    Other works have taken much longer.
    I’m not sure it matters as long as you don’t expect to do the same thing every time you write. Each novel is an organic living thing and chooses its birth.

    • #8 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 6:59 am

      Viv, that’s astonishing! But you have to count the years of brain time. And I agree that different novels knock their way out in different ways – and so they should if you’re growing as a novelist.

  5. #9 by Elizabeth Jasper (@EJasperWriter) on March 25, 2012 - 7:12 pm

    It takes however long it takes. The first in a series, for example, will take time. Subsequent novels, using the same characters and settings, I would expect to be able to write much faster – a bit like having a multiple birth – one gestation for two, three, or even more babies. They all demand the same amount of attention for them to grow into proper, grown-up stories.

    I’m saddened when I feel writers are being pressured into producing work too fast. That’s not how it should be. I’ve spent seven years writing my first three books – the third will be out this Spring – even though they’ve all been published (by me, on Kindle) since last summer so it may appear I’m much more prolific than I am. I can write more than one story at the same time – it just takes twice as long to finish them both.

    .

    • #10 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:05 am

      Writing several at the same time – yes, that’s what I do, Elizabeth. I’ve got separate compartments in my brain for them – and separate notes zones on my desk. A lot of thinking, reading and experimenting is going on before I start the actual writing.

  6. #11 by mrdisvan on March 25, 2012 - 7:16 pm

    I think a lot of the people jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon (not all, but a large proportion) are the modern equivalent of pulp magazine writers of the 1920s and ’30s, who aimed to knock out material as fast as they could, get paid a quarter cent a word, and thereby avoid having to dig ditches for a living. The only difference nowadays, of course, is that the average self-pubbed author’s income is way less than a quarter cent a word. In fact, pretty soon you’ll be hard-pressed to give it away.

    But that’s genre fiction. You mentioned Naomi Alderman, who is in a whole other class, along with writers like Lloyd Shepherd, Andrew Miller, and Frances Stonor Saunders, who are never going to be able to churn it out, because they are trying to create something original and different every time. If a book like Pure – or, going back to the classics, like Lolita or The End of the Affair – could be written in less than a year or two then I’d suspect the author of having a Tardis in their closet.

    Every writer has to make this determination for themselves. To be James Patterson, or Jed Rubenfeld? That is, do I want to write a bunch of “yarns”, or a great work of fiction? Personally I’d consider the latter is the only excuse for becoming a writer, but there are also people who are entertained by “wonderful trash”, as I heard one publisher describe it, and if that’s the kind of stuff you want to write, then – well, it’s a free country.

    • #12 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:08 am

      Mr Disvan, I was thinking of mentioning the pulp writers in my post. Some people are capable of turning out a competent book in a very short time – and that’s as much a skill as those of us who prefer the slow-cooked method. Although obviously it won’t produce the same sort of results… I once interviewed a TV psychologist who, in his student days, used to knock off pulp spy novels. He could dash off one a weekend.

      And, as you say, at the other end of the scale we have the writers who are having to explore what their novel is and the way to do justice to it.

  7. #13 by 1 Story A Week on March 25, 2012 - 7:22 pm

    I am a slow writer, but I edit as I write so the editing portion of my writing takes less time than those who don’t. I am formulating my plan to undertake my first novel shortly. What’s the best piece of advice you can give this first timer?

  8. #15 by Jayz on March 25, 2012 - 7:24 pm

    It’d be a useful guideline if part of a book’s metadata was how long it took the author to write it. There’s such a deluge of books being published (I mean self-published) that we need some way to tell whether it’s worth even taking a look.

    • #16 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:11 am

      ho ho, that’s an interesting idea, Jayz! ‘This novel was slow-matured for 12 years like a whisky…’

  9. #17 by Holly Helscher on March 25, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been having a day where it seems like my novel is in never-never land while others are speeding by. I’ve read that 150-words a day mantra but my novel doesn’t seem to work in 150-word increments. Days where I’m in the zone can see 2000 words or more. But days like today if I can do ten decent words I’m lucky. So it was refreshing to see a blog that doesn’t necessarily recommend speed writing.

    • #18 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:12 am

      Thanks, Holly. Obviously we don’t want to be procrastinating, but sometimes we need to consider everything slowly. I find it’s best to write a rough draft fast, then I have a lot to play with.

  10. #19 by Viv on March 25, 2012 - 7:35 pm

    I don’t know whether it truly matters to a books quality how long it took for the final writing of it; often material percolates for a lifetime before suddenly being ready to write NOW. Look at Golding’s work for example and many others that wrote fast.
    Anyway, rules are made to be broken, write at your own speed not someone else’s!

    • #20 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:13 am

      Interesting you should mention Golding, Viv. I heard he had to do several drafts of Lord of the Flies with his Faber editor before the book took its final shape. I don’t know about his other novels, though.

  11. #21 by dcgallin on March 25, 2012 - 7:51 pm

    This is so strange because I was going to ask you how long it took you to write MOAFL Roz and now there is this post!
    It took me five years to write four drafts. Then I went over it again… and again. Oh well like Goethe said: I haven’t got much time, so I write you a long letter. I think it will always take me years to write a novel.

    • #22 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:14 am

      Hi Denise! Nice to see you here… And after all that time, you then had a good 8 weeks trying to make the Kindle version work! Nothing in writing is fast, is it?

  12. #23 by Tina on March 25, 2012 - 8:09 pm

    I can write much faster if I am ghostwriting; it probably has something to do with hiding behind that bed sheet! For my own work, I am slow. Sometimes painfully so. I try and take my own advice (it’s a process, the words will come when they are ready, blah blah blah), but I also try and turn that off and tell myself to just get something down already– the editing is where the real magic happens, anyway.

    • #24 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:16 am

      I’m a better editor than a generator, Tina. And as your blog name suggests, sometimes we need to get a draft down.

  13. #25 by Sally - aka Saleena on March 25, 2012 - 8:10 pm

    Slooow. :)

  14. #27 by Novel Girl on March 25, 2012 - 9:52 pm

    I write slow. Sometimes I feel fast but I take a long time between revisions — I need the distance to see my errors and take on critiques. I think time is important. It’s like when I look back on writing I did years ago (eek!). You only see the errors once you take space and read it as if you were someone else. Can’t do that if you rush. Can’t add that *extra* something special to a manuscript.

    • #28 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:17 am

      Agree, Becca – distance is essential, for those very important reasons you point out. One, to see it with fresh eyes, and two to be mature enough to accept criticism from others.

  15. #29 by Col Bury on March 25, 2012 - 10:48 pm

    Great post, Roz.

    I’m pretty slow, until I hit a rhythm. Problem is, it’s so damn spasmodic, due to ‘life’, that I rarely hit the desired rhythm. However, with an agent waiting, it kinda forces the issue! :-)

    The novel I’m writing now is somewhat ‘outside the box’ and is taking much longer than my usual slow-to-steady pace.

    Thoughtful piece this, which I found poignant – thanks!

    Regards to all,
    Col

    • #30 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:18 am

      Thanks, Col – I love that so many people are coming out in favour of slow discovery. But we will get our books finished, won’t we? Good luck putting the lid on yours, Col.

  16. #31 by tomburkhalter on March 25, 2012 - 11:10 pm

    For a first draft I like the fast pace of National Novel Writers Month — 50,000 words in 30 days. That seems to work really well for me. However, I haven’t made really serious attempts at revision until the last two I wrote (2010 and 2011). Second and third drafts take a lot longer…I’m only now reaching Draft 3 for the novel I wrote in 2010. And I think you’re right about novels in a series. Once you know the characters and the general drift of events it gets a lot easier to go from Draft 1 to Draft 2 and so on.

    • #32 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:23 am

      Tom, I like the idea of using Nanowrimo to write a first draft. To produce that wordcount in that time is probably a great way to kick yourself into the novel. And if you looked at your drafts now you’d probably find they were great starting points for crafting a finished book.

      • #33 by tomburkhalter on March 26, 2012 - 9:55 pm

        Absolutely. The only caveat, maybe half of them! The others, well, those ideas just need some WOOOOORK…!

  17. #34 by Yesenia on March 25, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    So slow! Finally wrote my first novel but it’s so not what I expected to write at all that it’s still “marinating” from last Nano. Hopefully I’ll open it up soon and the story will become clear to me. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get back into writing. But it’s hard since I’m also a full-time student and I have a 2 month old. I also have an idea in my head for a second novel, but it just “doesn’t feel right” yet. I see parts of it but not all of it yet. Meanwhile, I’m also kind of mentally experimenting and seeing if I might write other genres as well. It’s all possibilities right now, I guess.

    • #35 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:25 am

      Yesenia, mental experimentation is part of the journey. Some writers who claim they don’t plan are in fact doing a lot of planning and sorting in their heads before they start. Anyway, hope you manage to find the time and get your book onto pages.

  18. #36 by Dave on March 25, 2012 - 11:47 pm

    Writers shouldn’t be thinking about how fast they can write a book, they should be thinking about how to do the best book they can. Writing anything good takes time. If you’re thinking, “Hey, I could complete three Geronimo Daaark steampunk thrillers in the next 12 months!” then I beseech thee, in the bowels of Christ: get a job in a bank instead.

    • #37 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:25 am

      Excellent point – thank you for reminding us of the proper goal, Dave. Aim for the best book you can.

  19. #38 by golanskistreasures on March 26, 2012 - 12:24 am

    LOVE your “materials, muse and market” statement. Mind if I quote you sometime? (smile) If I had to write the book I finally finished after (on and off) 12 YEARS in such a compressed time, I could have merely said something along the lines of, “There was this awful thing that happened – called the Holocaust – lots of people were brutally and inexplicably murdered for no other reason than being other than ‘suitable’ to live within a madman’s nightmarish vision. My guy survived, but at a great personal cost to his soul. He returned to Poland to bury the past and come to some resolution by bringing back items linking him to the places and people he lost. Met some kids along the way, who along with their teachers, helped him. They all learned from the experience – “Never Again!” became their unified battle cry against genocide of all innocent peoples. My guy felt better. The kids learned major life lessons. The End.” I wonder what else I might have done with my time during those 12 years if I had simply consumed more caffeine and pushed to publish light years ahead of the book’s time. If we’re artists, we need to give our art room to breathe and emerge. If we’re no more than word-producers . . . we can crank our thoughts out quicker on Twitter. Thanks so much for suggesting we savor the work, the experience, the process and the craft of writing.

    • #39 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:27 am

      Thanks! You’re right, we need to take the time that’s necessary to do justice to our subject. With well-established genres, that path will be clear. With more thoughtful works, we need to take longer.

  20. #40 by Andrew Blackman on March 26, 2012 - 12:45 am

    Nice post! I write slowly in general, but in November 2008 tried writing a novel in a month for National Novel Writing Month. The experience was very liberating, and whereas my previous efforts had met with rejection, this novel won an award and was published as On the Holloway Road. My second novel, by contrast, has taken about three years to complete. I think fast writing can be a good thing once in a while, but is not sustainable, especially if you want to produce something that you’re really proud of.

    • #41 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:28 am

      Andrew, I like the idea of trying to complete a draft in a short time, but that will be followed by a lot more consideration. And it will have been preceded by a lot of formulation too. And congratulations on your award.

  21. #42 by akrummenacker on March 26, 2012 - 1:41 am

    Sometimes the words gush, other times it’s a trickle. As someone else posted here “It takes as long as it takes…” I can never guarantee how much I’ll get done. Life keeps getting in the way between having to share my laptop or college homework, etc. But you’re absolutely right that quality not quantity should be the rule.

  22. #44 by laurastanfill on March 26, 2012 - 2:12 am

    I’m a slow writer for sure. My last novel took seven years, and I’m a year and a half into my current one. My favorite slow writer success story is Selden Edwards, who spent 30 years writing and revising a beautiful historical novel, “The Little Book.”

  23. #48 by lkwatts on March 26, 2012 - 11:40 am

    This is a lovely post and it’s very refreshing to read. I’ve almost finished my second book which is a lot longer than the first, and yet it’s not taken me nearly as long to write it. But still, I sometimes worry that I should be churning out 5 books a year or something ridiculous like that.

    Some writers seem to stress that if you’re not working at speed, you won’t be successful. But as Dean Wesley Smith has pointed out, you’re not going to get all of your readers in the same time frame. Some will come days after your first release, others years. But as long as you keep releasing your books your audience will grow eventually. I know I’d rather take ten years to produce five quality books than five years producing ten poor quality ones.

    I really wish I could write faster without comprimising the quality of my work, and some people can, but I am not yet one of them. If you write a good book then it will sell, no matter what.

    • #49 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 12:07 pm

      Thank you – it’s lovely how many writers have said they’re relieved I wrote this post. I wish I could whip my ‘proper’ novels out faster, but I know when I get the feedback on them that I was right to take the time.

  24. #50 by TeacherWriter on March 26, 2012 - 12:05 pm

    Right on, Roz. I’ve been saying this for a couple of years, and I’ve written at least two posts in praise of slow writing. Speed does not equate with quality. Certainly, some genre novels can be written quickly, especially if you’ve already developed the characters and setting. But for a novel with some meaning, one that will stay with the readers, it takes time. Just like a good spaghetti sauce cooks all day, a good wine ferments for months or years, a good story develops over time.

  25. #52 by courseofmirrors on March 26, 2012 - 3:22 pm

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only snail. My first story existed in latency for many years. Gaining a little time from my professional life, I shaped Course of Mirrors in 2006, working during evenings and weekends and learning about the craft in the process. In 2008 I put some chapters up on authonomy. The feedback was encouraging. Then another project interrupted, which took every moment of my free time for a year. During 2011 I did countless edit rounds for my novel. Returning each time with a little distance, deepening the characters. Following a recent first query I was asked for the full manuscript from a good publisher, a great boost. That’s the way it is. I wished I could write faster, but I need to sleep over things :)

    • #53 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 26, 2012 - 7:39 pm

      Ashen, I feel this could be a movement – like slow cooking! And excellent that you have a manuscript request – very best of luck with that.
      Sometimes I feel we don’t just have to sleep on manuscripts. We have to hibernate :)

      • #54 by courseofmirrors on March 26, 2012 - 8:28 pm

        Hibernating in the dark, that’s it, every wing unfolds from it :)

  26. #55 by Victoria Mixon on March 26, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    Hey, Roz! Lovely post, as usual! Novels worth publishing only give up their secrets to great patience and nurturing.

    I’m reading the memoirs of Georges Simenon right now, and I just got to the point where he says that—after sixty novels—he can write a novel in nine days. Of course you know what we call that in editing circles: “a rough draft.” There is a vast difference between writing and typing.

    Sure, if we had Simenon’s reputation, we could send our publishers our first drafts and they’d take them. But otherwise? I’m afraid I’m at the other end of the table chatting with Katherine Anne Porter, who took 29 years to write Ship of Fools.

  27. #57 by DRMarvello on March 26, 2012 - 11:54 pm

    I recently read about Lizzy Ford, who writes and publishes a novel every 30-45 days, including allowing time for promotion. She has several people who help her out (an editor, graphic artist, and IT person), but still she amazes me.

    I took a year to write my first book, and the second isn’t coming along much faster. The second book is a sequel and has the advantages of an established world and a few repeat characters, but I’m putting a lot more detail into it. I do hope to be able to write faster some day, but that isn’t a priority.

    I think that the pressure to write fast comes from the current mantra that the best way to sell more books is to write more books. Most successful self-published authors didn’t start getting any traction until they had 3-5 books on the virtual shelf. It is almost a waste of effort to promote your work until you reach that level. If you can write three novels in a year, you have a huge advantage over the author who takes three years to write one.

    As for quality, I don’t think speed has much to do with it, honestly. I believe some writers can put out four books a year of similar quality to other writers who take four years to write just one. Just because it takes a long time to write a book doesn’t mean it’s any good. Like others have said, write at the pace that works best for you. If you can find ways to speed up your writing and maintain the quality of your writing as well as your enjoyment of the writing process, more power to you.

    • #58 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 27, 2012 - 11:32 pm

      Hello Daniel! Great point about the pressure to produce, and marketing theory. Undoubtedly it’s true that if you have more books available it makes you look more established to readers who’ve never heard of you. And this is making people feel they have to up their title count.

      As you say, though, it’s hard to generalise. Each novel takes its own time; each writer also.

  28. #59 by Nicole Alexander on March 27, 2012 - 12:27 am

    Roz, if we were in the same room, I’d hug you for this post! I’m one of those “running before you could tie your shoes” first-time authors, but I’m already feeling pressured that I’m not fast enough just because I see so many other writers churning out book after book. It’s taken me 12 years to get almost ready to query (okay, round 2 of querying) and sometimes I feel like something is wrong with me becuase it’s taken so long. I know I could be faster if this was my full-time job, but that’s not reality. As you say, I know I’ll get faster as time goes on, but just hearing someone that I respect as much as you give permission to write slowly helps. You have reminded me that it’s the quality of the work that counts, not how fast you pump it out. Thank you so much for this post!

  29. #61 by johnkpatterson on March 28, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    Excellent points Roz! That’s the thing a lot of people keep forgetting in the writing community: patience.

    Another thing I have noticed left on the sidelines is attention to substance. I love my local community of writers (Pikes Peak Writers), but it seems like the focus is shifting towards “How to pitch” and “How to market yourself” and floating away from craft, excellence of writing, and general high-quality storytelling.

    Maybe it’s just a symptom of all the different genres that are being blended together. At any writers workshop or conference preparation meeting, I can almost guarantee that there will be at least four YA authors, two romance writers, two mystery writers, three to four fantasy authors (myself included), and often at least one science fiction novelist. Maybe it’s hard to focus on particular rules of craft and storytelling when they’re different for so many genres, and they’re focusing on what the writers do have in common: marketing, spreading your name, and general advice on how to self-publish or impress an agent. Which is perfectly fine.

    The problem is that this starts turning writing into business (and some writers are starting to go along with this outlook), when I want it to be much more than my name slapped on a product. I want it to be a story that readers will single out and fall in love with for the rest of their lives. I’m sure most writers still want that, too, but now they have to put up with more writing communities that are treating their beautiful, deep novels as commodities. In short, a lot of writing communities (even critique groups) are increasingly acting more like the publishers and agents, and less like writers.

    Okay, rant over. Sorry about that. I hope it adds something to the discussion.

    • #62 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 28, 2012 - 7:21 pm

      This definitely does add to the discussion, John! A very interesting point about why writing groups might focus on the marketing and promo side of things. Certainly when I post about publishing topics – as opposed to writing craft – I get a lot more comments. I don’t think the craft points are much different for the various genres – characters are characters, structure is structure. Maybe people think they can get craft posts anywhere, or they don’t want to speak up and debate them.
      Whatever the reason, I – like you – want my novels to be special and to fulfil their promise. So it’s nice to have you here!

  30. #63 by Ileandra Young on March 28, 2012 - 6:59 pm

    I used to feel a lot of pressure to get Silk Over Razor Blades finished and done. Its been very, many years now. But I’ve recently discovered that if I want it to be as perfect as it can be, then I need to give it time.
    Its urban fantasy, vamp fiction if you like, but I can’t stand the thought of letting it out into the world as anything less than my best effort. So… for that reason, I may write quickly (and I’m not kidding, I do), but fine tuning and perfecting is where the time creeps in.

  31. #65 by Writerlious on March 29, 2012 - 1:50 pm

    The writing itself is fast. When I’m writing a first draft, the words fly onto the paper. It’s revision that takes forever. I’d probably never stop if I didn’t make myself. Ileandra must have the same perfectionist bug I do. ;)

  32. #67 by Pete Denton on March 29, 2012 - 8:40 pm

    Slow is good. I’ve been at mine since 2003 (idea) and started writing it in 2005. (I did have a long break in between drafts) Nearly finished the 2nd draft! Hopefully a slow writer has time to fine tune the story and the characters and if it is the first book of a series that has got to stand you in good stead.

  33. #69 by Unforgivingmuse on March 29, 2012 - 8:56 pm

    Roz, once again, thanks. My writing output isn’t about the number of words, but the progression of the work and it’s directly linked to the volume of my confidence. With confidence, I make leaps and bounds, write blog updates, short stories and outline new ideas as well. At the other end, I’ll torture myself for a week over one passage.
    I’m still on my first novel: if it gets somewhere (which would be nice), any financial reward will pale into insignificance next to the huge dividend in confidence I’ll gain for any future work. If it doesn’t do well (and I’m a realist, I know the statistics), then my output on new projects will doubtless have more slow patches than fast.

    • #70 by DRMarvello on March 29, 2012 - 11:05 pm

      Your comment reminds me of a scene from one of the Star Wars movies. It’s when they are navigating through the asteroid field, and C3PO is trying to explain how impossible it would be to succeed. Harrison Ford quips, “Never tell me the odds.” I always think of that when I’m eroding my own confidence with thinking too much about what has happened or what might happen.

      • #71 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 29, 2012 - 11:24 pm

        :)
        Wordpress just told me I’d already said that. Well it looks as though I’m saying it again. :)

    • #72 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on March 29, 2012 - 11:23 pm

      Hi Simon! You’re probably right that it won’t pay off in pounds, but it definitely will in wisdom and confidence. Thanks for dropping by :)

  34. #73 by John Barnes on March 30, 2012 - 7:45 pm

    For me, stuff intended for slow reading is poetry and cinematography, and takes as long as it takes — I just keep monkeying till it sounds right, and sometimes there’s a great deal of bump-ditty, bump-ditty, what fits here? about it, and other times I feel like I’m just transcribing from the muse. Fast reading is programming and engineering; minimum words per maximum interest in the order that requires the least backtracking by the reader. Sometimes I see the scene that way and sometimes I have a pile of scene-parts to be assembled, then ported, relieved, stroked, and bored till they’ll do the intended 140.

    When I’m hot, I compose or engineer pretty fast; when I’m not, well, I’m not. A good paragraph of thriller prose can take all day; as for what I spend that day doing, see my entry on action scenes at The Book Doctor’s Little Black Bag. Fifteen good pages, i.e. a bit over 3000 words, of moody atmospherics or complex human interaction can come out in one afternoon, if it’s the right afternoon; the I Was A Third Grade Communist chapter of Tales of the Madman Underground, which many readers have told me was their favorite, was a rough draft in one long snowy evening and needed little to no work afterward, and the first chapter of One For the Morning Glory is almost unchanged from the rough draft that I scrawled in a steno pad in about five hours in successively, a restaurant, a coffee house, and a bar.

    Or the more expected vice versa happens a lot too.

    No relation I can discern between the speed at which I want people to read and the speed at which I write.

  35. #74 by wordartskate on April 10, 2012 - 7:58 pm

    It seems to vary so much from writer to writer. I write the first draft of a novel very quickly, (but nobody gets to see that one except me!) but then take ages and ages – literally years, over the editing and rewriting. I have to get to know the people I’m writing about – what makes them tick, why they do what they do. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, thinking ‘THAT’S what was going on!’ But since I’ve been at it for so very long, and have reverted titles as well as new unpublished stuff I’m in the happy position of having a LOT of work to tap into now. In fact I could keep going for the next two or three years indie-publishing two or three books a year – which should give me time to work on the new novel :-) Or the next three novels … I can remember one exception to this, a play called The Price of a Fish Supper – the most successful play I’ve ever written. It was produced in Glasgow, transferred to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, produced on BBC Radio AND published in an anthology. I wrote it in a couple of days, hardly stopping to eat and drink – and hardly changing it. Even in production, the director didn’t want to make any changes. It has never happened to me since, though. It would make life a lot easier if it did.

    • #75 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on April 10, 2012 - 8:19 pm

      Hello Catherine! Yes, I wish my books would flood out fully formed, but alas it’s never happened to me even once! Most of my books are scar tissue :)

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