Confessions of a Slow Writer

There are a lot of new books out this year aimed at helping writers learn to write fast. “Increase your word count to 2000, 5000, or even 10k words a day!” they proclaim in bright colored words across the cover. It’s the ideal, or so you would think from all the writing podcasts.

But what about the slow writers? It isn’t as though we CHOOSE to be slow. Some of us have day jobs, or children, or family obligations. Some of us can only write when our child takes a nap. Or in between classes at the local college. Or on breaks at work.

What we should keep in mind is that no one starts out writing at blazing fast speeds. We all had a first book, and 99.9% of those first books are horrible books that get shelved, or thrown away never to see the light of day again. A good majority of those books were written over the course of months, if not years. My first book, for instance, took five years to complete. I started writing it when I was 16. A few weeks after completing it I lost the file on my computer. It was just gone and there was nothing I could do about it. I did have half of the book printed out for later editing, but I was so depressed about the lost files after five years of writing that I haven’t ever looked at it again.

Parts of that first novel have spun off several other works. Several of the themes keep reappearing in my work, because they were my life. I’ve also added to the themes and characters as I got older, giving them more notes to expand upon.

After I complete each thing, be it novel or short story, I get a little faster at completing things. I’ve done NaNoWriMo six times now, and ‘won’ most of the time. The things that came out were often bad, but salvageable. They could be rewritten, edited, expanded upon.

One year for NaNoWriMo I wrote nothing but short stories. 50,000 words of short stories is a lot of short stories. I believe I completed five for that month. All of them are now published in my Small Bites collection, along with several others started during that time.

For the entire year of 2014, and NaNoWriMo of 2013, I worked on a project called “Mermaid’s Curse”. It has since been renamed to the “Witch’s Trilogy” and will start being published this year. I’m still working on books 2 and 3.

So the confession of this slow writer? I might be slow, but I’m still making progress. I’m still accomplishing my goal of putting out books, and completing my stories.

There are so many people around the self publishing community that are saying “write fast, the faster you write the better it is for you,” and they aren’t wrong. But some of us can’t write that fast… yet.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get at just letting yourself write and not getting in your own way.
The more you write the more comfortable you’ll be with the process.
The more stories you tell the better your stories will be the first time you write them.

It’s a process. It takes time. DON’T GIVE UP just because you’re a slow writer. Give yourself time to finish what you started, even if it takes months, or even years. You’ll get there.


7 thoughts on “Confessions of a Slow Writer

  1. I think people lose sight of the fact that everyone is different. Even if someone successful recommends a technique, that doesn’t mean it’s the only right way.

    There’s only one thing that counts: do readers enjoy reading your books? And I’ve enjoyed reading everything you’ve written, Crissy.

    Don’t worry about not being Johnny or Garrett. If everyone was the same writer, reading books would get pretty boring 🙂

    • Well, there is something to be said for writing fast. The more you have our the more likely you are to be seen. It’s going to be a slower build up for me to gain readers is all.

      • I think that’s true in some cases, but there are exceptions. I always think it’s the difference between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarrantino.

        Rodriguez follows the idea that you throw a ton of stuff out there and some of it will be good. The more you produce, the more likely something will be good.

        Tarrantino believes that you should only put things out there that are exceptional. He releases movies very seldom, but they tend to have every idea he’s had for years in them.

        I don’t think either are the “right” answer. Both of them work very hard at their movies, they just have different approaches.

      • Exactly. There are people who say that and others who say they write slowly. It’s about finding what works for each individual 🙂

  2. “But what about the slow writers? It isn’t as though we CHOOSE to be slow. Some of us have day jobs, or children, or family obligations. Some of us can only write when our child takes a nap. Or in between classes at the local college. Or on breaks at work.”

    You’re missing the point of those books. They aren’t saying you have to be a fast writer, they are showing you how you can write faster than you do now. Kids, naps, video games, and working full time has nothing to do with words per hour written.

    If you write 500 words a day in your two hours available, maybe those books can help you write 2k words in the same amount of time.

    None of those books give any of us more time, but show us how to maximize the writing time we do have.

    You could argue that if you don’t try to maximize your methods (by reading those books or finding your own way to write faster in that same period of time) that you then ARE choosing to be slow, however. 😉

    • No, I didn’t miss the point. I have read a couple of them (I love the 2k to 10k book) and found them very helpful. I am definitely writing more, partly because of these books, partly just because of practice. Though after lots of consideration I’m not sure I would write more if I had more time. I tend to goof off too much. So in that way I suppose I am kind of choosing not to write faster, or at least more often.

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