Some writers are able to knock out a novel in a month or two. Some take many months or years to write one of equal length.
Some word-nerds can work on multiple projects, deftly transitioning from a short story to a poem to a novel in the span of a few hours. Others may feel overwhelmed if they attempt more than one work simultaneously.
Some writers spend a couple of weeks editing entire novels and send them off polished and spiffy. Others spend months or years editing (and editing and editing…) and turn them in half-polished and soaked in the tears of a wordsmith.
Which methods are best? Do fast multi-tasking writers outsell the slowpokes? Does a slower, meticulous writing style and singular focus guarantee better results? Which combination produces the best grammar and punctuation, story, character, and all those other high-brow literary terms?
I’ll spare you from having to read this entire blog post. The answer: Yesnobothwhatevs.
When it comes to writing, I’m slower than most.
My first book—from conception to submitted manuscript—took me eight years to complete. If I pump out about 400 to 500 words a day, I’m content. Anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000, I’m ecstatic. And anything over that, someone probably slipped some coke into my Cherry Fun Dip.
Some might believe I write slowly and work on only one project at a time because I’ve tapped into a secret formula, or because I think I’m better than someone who can edit an entire novel in just a few weeks, or I’m a perfectionist.
I write slowly because that’s just how I write. Ideas don’t come to me easily. I’m unable to turn off my inner editor no matter how hard I try. Bogging myself down with more than one project sends me on a downward spiral into self-doubt and beer-swilling. And I’ll make ten full passes through a manuscript when editing, after having edited every single line ten times as it was crafted.
Does that mean the quality of my work is better or worse than faster writers?
And so long as I keep writing, does it even matter?
Through mostly social networks, I’ve met quite a few writers who can churn out short stories and chapters and articles all in one day. Many are able to complete novels in less than two or three months.
Many are also able to bind and gag their inner editor, beat it with a metal baseball bat, and keep it buried in the recesses of their minds throughout the duration of their writing.
Some might believe fast writers take on endless deadlines and projects because they’ve tapped into a secret formula, or because they have ADHD, or they’re sloppy.
They write quickly because that’s just how they write. Ideas swim through their mind twenty-four hours a day. They’re able to bitch-slap their inner editor without needing baby powder. They tackle multiple projects simultaneously because it’s simple to them, and they may even enjoy some alcohol with it. And they’ll make one or two full passes through a manuscript when editing, and that’s about it.
Does that mean the quality of their work is better or worse than a slower writer?
Does it even matter, so long as the person keeps writing?
So, which method is better?
Neither. Or either.
Fast and slow writers alike turn out phrases and paragraphs like veteran pimps. During prolonged jaunts of vigorous writing every day or short one-week bursts of semi-vigorous writing once every four months, both compose secondary plots and tension like pros.
But they also lose track of the plot. They ramble. They overlook important plot points and leave gaping holes in the storyline.
And grammatical errors still slip on by.
Excluding those perfect authors who can churn out multiple pieces of quality work virtually error-free quicker than you can say, “This fucking blog post sucks,” neither method will produce better or worse quality than the other. And yet either method could produce better or worse quality than the other.
Yeah. Total mind-fuck.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Writing faster gives publishers and fans what they crave, and we all know how short attention spans are these days.
In addition to that, you either need to write a literary masterpiece, have far-reaching connections, or pump more pieces onto the market if you want to make enough money to survive off writing alone.
Thus, more content means more fans and more money-making opportunities, right?
One would think slower writers concoct sentences wrought by perfection and wisdom and godliness, but that isn’t always true, either.
There are prolific writers who pump out tome after tome, blog after blog, article after article. Other equally prolific writers pump out one novel every two or three years, with little—if anything—in between.
Some writers knock out multiple projects day after day and never taste success. Some scrawl at a pace so slow their handful of fans forget about them before their next work hits the market.
Some fast writers can speed through a short story without having to edit, while others need to edit gratuitously. Some slow writers slog through a short story while editing excessively, and others move along in slow motion while crafting perfect sentences every time.
You have to figure out what works for you. You have to be honest with yourself and determine which speed, editing techniques, and marketing options fit your writing dreams and abilities. You have to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, then tailor the methods to your own personal experience in order to figure out the advantages and disadvantages as they apply to you.
And, most importantly, you need to keep writing.
As It Applies to Me
I spent almost 13 months working on my second novel, and that left time for absolutely nothing else. No poetry, no short stories, no blog posts, not even my infamous annual Halloween Spooktacular event. Though I’m stoked to have written one book in almost a year, I assume to know the state of writing today:
If you’re not Anne Rice, Stephen King, or some other bestselling author, you can’t really get away with writing one novel a year and nothing else.
I’m slow. I need to sit my ass down and write without seeking better ways to construct one measly little sentence. I need to dig through all the advice and methods out there and figure out a more conducive technique for me to keep my fan(s) satiated while enticing new folk to read my shitty shit.
Most importantly, I need to keep writing.
In conclusion, whether you’re fast writer or a slowpoke like me, only one thing really matters: Writers write.
So stop reading this shitty blog post.
Go write something. Right now. (Or you can take your time. No biggie.)
Stay tuned. There’s more randomosity coming soon.