Don’t rush your writing

Now and then, I catch myself rushing: anxious to publish and hurrying my writing. Luckily, I have techniques to combat this mindset (one of which involves an excellent Malbec or Chianti), and it becomes easier as time goes on to convince myself that rushing has no merit. But why do I entertain this temptation in the first place? I’ve narrowed it to three main reasons:

Keep up

I love to hear about book releases from my twitter friends. There are increasing numbers of people working (and succeeding) at being an author, and barely a few days go by without a book launch. I want real success for these writers. It’s not a competition. There are plenty of readers to go round, and now that Indie publishing has changed the game, you can opt to get around the typical 2-year wait for publication, so fewer writers are competing for those slots.

However, it’s easy to get sucked into the excitement of a book launch and watching the author post quotes from their 5-star reviews. This is where the devil on my shoulder steps in and hints that I am being left behind. Hey, he says, these people are all out there building an audience, filling the shelves (real or virtual), being talked about. You’re being left behind. You’re not relevant. No one knows who you are. Hurry up!

Critical mass

Whether traditional or Indie published, it is true that unless you happen to pen a bestseller, your success is shaped by the number of books you have available. Readers want an author who is prolific, they want to read your back-catalog when they discover you. The more books you have available, the more your name will crop up in conversation, the more shelf space you command, or the more times Amazon will feature you in its recommendation engine. Not to mention that many authors have presented hard data that your income rises non-linearly with number of titles. Three books seems to be the critical mass. So, my devil says, get three books out there quickly!

The Idea Factory

I suffer the curse of more ideas than I could ever write in a lifetime. During the course of writing my first book, I became tempted or excited by many fresher ideas. Ooh, I want to write that book. You know how it is. Discipline won of course, but even as I work on my second book, I am plagued by fascinating plotlines that I want to write. Quickly, my devil hisses, finish this book so you can get to write that one.

 

We all know that writing cannot be rushed. Certainly, some authors create faster than others, but I’m sure they have a structure around their seemingly incredible pace, and are not rushing and cutting corners. Four books a year? Sounds impossible, but having read reviews of these authors, they’re clearly doing it right and pleasing their readers.

I’m not a fast writer, and suspect that most authors aren’t. Rushing is most definitely detrimental. You can’t publish your first draft. The more drafts the better, usually, and never be tempted to skip the advice of beta-readers and an impartial editor. Step away from the manuscript for a month and come back to it fresh. Books are like a fine red; let them breathe before indulging.

Like most writers, I do this day after day because I enjoy telling a story, I enjoy stepping into my fantasy worlds, and I love the creative challenge. It feels wrong that sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the journey. All in good time. Best things come to he who waits, etc. The world is a frantic place, and I don’t want my writing to be a victim of that.

Do you ever feel this way? How do you deal with the temptation to rush your writing?

 

3 Responses to Don’t rush your writing

  1. You pretty much hit the nail on the head! Everything you wrote is everything I have felt. Ten years on a novel felt like overkill but if I hadnt taken that self pub leap on the KDP my book would still be sat on my computer in a folder in the bottom right corner lol. I have set myself a deadline on my second book but think I left myself tight (its like you aimed this post at me lol) So i think I will be taking a leaf out of your book (not literally :p) and give myself more time to perfect my second book :)

  2. Mark Landen says:

    Writer, author, novelist; these words have different connotations to me, and speed is one of them. In today’s world of multitasking and on-demand everything, we forget how humanity survived save for the last 20 years. Great art took care and thought, or perhaps I’m dreaming of a time and place that never existed.

    Regardless, in today’s world high wordcount output equals success, but I won’t subscribe to that equation. For me, it takes time to create something of worth and if I tried to mimic those creating four outstanding works a year, it would result in disaster. I suspect I’m part of the norm in this regard.

    And I hope others will deem my work as quality once it’s polished and ready for show. Good luck with yours, Graeme. I don’t see anything wrong with producing a quality book once a year, or every other year, or even ten for that matter. Humans’ best stories, the ones that stand the test of time, took many years to create, after all!

  3. Graeme says:

    Vicky, I too set myself a deadline, more to get the first draft down, since that is the perspiration part for me. I like to take my time over successive drafts – you can’t rush the molding process. A deadline is ok, but we shouldn’t panic or feel guilty if we don’t meet it. (Yes I can hear the publishers screaming at me now!) I have enough deadlines at work, thank you. :)

    Mark, very sage comments. I totally agree with everything you said. We need to rebel against the rat race pushing us to rush our entire lives.

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