Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fast Food, Fast Writing

You know how one thing makes you think of something else? Well, doing research on the history of fast food got me to thinking about how much our habits can affect our writing, for good or for bad. (I'll let you know when the story comes out; subbing to Artisans in Miniature (AIM) Magazine. )

With thousands of new books coming out every year with the surge in Kindle and other eBook formats, the writer might be tempted to think: write fast, fast, faster, or I'll be left behind! But technology goes at warp speed, regardless of how adept we are at keeping up. In this case, faster does not always mean better.

While some writers can churn out a novel in six months, a year, 18 months, or even a lightning-paced three months or less, others feel more comfortable working at a slower pace. The best book often is not the one churned out at rocket speed, but slow doesn't mean working slower than a turtle, either.

There are times when tweaking will improve the story once the basics have been achieved, yet even then, there comes a time when you have to say, yes, it is as done as I can make it, and then move on.

Make it the best novel or story you can. Get feedback, make corrections and submit it. Leaving it sit in your computer is about as bad as that greasy fast food burger sitting in your stomach. (I'll have the fish instead.)

By getting that manuscript as good as you can and submitting it, you resist the urge to make even more corrections and the endless cycle of fixing, doubting and fearing it will never be good enough.

Once you get feedback, again good or bad, depending upon your view from other sources, you then know just where you stand and the next step to take. And that is a good thing, right?

* So what's your take: do you prefer fast food or slow-cooked - fast writing or slow?


Emily R. King said...

Oh my gosh, I needed this post tonight. I'm reading through my final draft of my MS and all the while I'm thinking, "Am I ready for this? Am I ready to query?" With every page and word the doubt grows. Thank you for reminding me that it's okay to work at my own pace. Writing is a great life, but so is family, and marriage, and friendship. Each takes a lot of work and effort. And although I'd love to pump out a novel every three months (or less), I'd also love to be successful in the other areas of my life as well.
THANK YOU for this post. You've given me a lot to think about.

Debra St. John said...

It takes me about a year to write a full-length novel, and that seems like a nice pace for me. I don't feel rushed, but I don't feel it's necessarily prolonged, either. (I probably could get one done faster if a didn't have a full-time job for most of the year, but that's another matter entirely.)

This past winter I wrote a shorter novella in about six weeks (to meet a deadline). I was proud of myself for meeting a deadline and cranking out this project, but I did feel a little rushed and at times wondered if I was doing my best work. (It all turned out great in the end...the novella (in its final, polished form) will be out this November.)

CA Verstraete said...

I'm the opposite, I am so sloooow. Keep adding, and at some point, it's time to quit. Thank you Emily. :>)
Sounds good, Debra; be interesting to see it. The opposite is sometimes we need to push ourselves, just a little. Procrastinator talking here. :>)

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm a slow writer and a slow reader. I like it all to sink in.

Morgan Mandel

Enid Wilson said...

I think write fast and edit slowly is a good combination.

Chemical Fusion

Deb Larson said...

I do a combo depending on how hectic my life is at the time. I love writing fast and editing slower. It doesn't always happen!
DL Larson

SBJones said...

I prefer fast writing over slow writing. I finished my rough draft in five weeks for 74,500 words and four weeks of editing before it was done. To me this was slow and knowing what I do now, it should have taken seven weeks or less.

Is this fast? Most I think will say yes. But when I look back, I put in around 300 hours in those nine weeks. Unlike most writers, I do not have a full time job on the side to pay bills. I don't have a wife or children either to schedule writing time around. So in the end for my first novel, I spent a paltry six hours a day working on it. That's not even a full time 40h a week.

So if you only have an hour a night to write, and it takes almost a year to get your book finished, then I am not writing any faster than you. Its the people on year five or ten that I have a hard time understanding.

Unknown said...

I have done both. I recently tried the fast route. My last book took me a year to write, but I wasn't really writing much at all. I made a 1,000 word a day goal, but as June ended - I still didn't make it, but I'm happy to see how much you can write when you set your mind to it. In my experience taking a year or more to write a book is fine if that's not your focus. I have a night shift job and I lost sleep to get those 1,000 words in, but it is doable. Just my opinion.

Ellen Dean said...

I set a goal to have my second novel out a year ago. It was coming along very well, and then I decided to change the story. Now, I'm glad to say I'm up to speed again. I'm writing fast because the story wants to come out. The first edit will be when I upload to computer. I'm now aiming for January 2012.